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Yellow Barn State Forest

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Yellow Barn State Forest

Recreational Activities

  • Primitive Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hunting, Wildlife Management Unit 7R
  • Nature Photography/Observation
  • Snowmobiling
  • Trapping

Background Information

Yellow Barn State Forest covers 1,289 acres of land in the east-central Tompkins County town of Dryden. The forest is primitive in nature and passive recreational activities such as hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, hiking, biking and horseback riding can be enjoyed. There is only one formal hiking trail on the forest. Yellow Barn State Forest also has one snowmobile trail about three miles in length. The snowmobile trail is maintained by the Dryden-Caroline Drifters Snowmobile Club, a DEC Adopt-A- Natural Resource partner. In addition, there are many paths, former town roads and logging trails to explore.

A wide collection of plants and animals can be discovered within this managed forest including various game species such as the white tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, squirrels, rabbits, woodcock and grouse. In addition, over 20 species of reptiles and amphibians and nearly 120 species of birds call the forest home.


The majority of the lands that cover Yellow Barn State Forest were once used for farming and pasture. However, the land could not support intensive agriculture. Farming came to an end during the Great Depression when many of Upstate New York's hilltop farms became economically unproductive.

Originally part of township number 23 of the military tract, the Yellow Barn State Forest lands were added to the State Forest System from 1956 to 2002. The most significant acquisition took place in January of 1956 when about 1,242 acres of federal lands were added to the State Forest. Chiefly former farms, the federal lands were acquired as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal under what was then called the federal sub marginal land purchase program. In total, 12 farms were acquired under the sub marginal land purchase program, with an average farm size of about 104 acres. The lands that comprise the Yellow Barn State Forest were once part of a rural farming community. In addition to the village of Dryden, a hamlet called California was settled at the intersection of Yellow Barn and Midline roads. The hamlet appears on a 1860 map. It was supposed to have received this name, commented Iva Cornelius Van Pelt (1904-2001) "from a group of pioneers whose original goal had been that far-western state (the 1849 California Gold Rush) but who so liked the hollow that they decided to remain here instead" (Gutchess, n.d.). The 1866 Atlas of Tompkins County indicates that A. Hard, J.W.D., W. Carpenter, J. Hammond, A.D. Card, D.B. Card, D.A. Chatfield, T. Robinson, O. Smith, A. Simon Est., J.H.N., B. Simons, P.M. Overbaugh, L. Griffin, T. Johnson and J. Vanorder owned land within the Yellow Barn State Forest.

Lady Slipper at Yellow Barn State Forest

During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt pushed forth his "New Deal" legislation in an effort to combat the rising unemployment epidemic caused by the Depression. This legislation offered many opportunities to Americans throughout the country, and it help start the process of reforestation in New York State. At the state level, the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 were enacted. These laws were created to help stabilize the school tax base and authorized the then New York State Conservation Department to establish State Forests by gift or purchase. State Reforestation Areas, consisting of areas no less than 500 acres of contiguous land, were to be forever devoted to "reforestation and the establishment and maintenance of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, and for recreation and other kindred purposes" (Article 9, Title 5 and 7, Environmental Conservation Law).

The New Deal, State Reforestation Law and Hewitt Amendment paved the way for the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933. The CCC enabled young men to be employed in various road building and forestry programs. Camp S-125 planted between 400,000 and 600,000 Scotch pine, European larch, Norway spruce, red pine, white pine, jack pine, red oak and Austrian pine seedlings in Yellow Barn State Forest.

Management Notes

The forest is sustainably managed for diverse wildlife habitat and for soil and water conservation. As a managed working forest, Yellow Barn produces forest products such as firewood, paper pulp and sawtimber, while storing large amounts of carbon. Today, strong towering pines, spruce and northern hardwoods cover the landscape.

Yellow Barn State Forest is part of the Twin Sheds Unit Management Plan. A Unit Management Plan (UMP) guides the DEC's land management activities on several geographically related forests for a ten-year period, although a number of goals and objectives in the plan focus on a much longer time period. Each UMP addresses specific objectives and actions for public use and forest management.

Yellow Barn State Forest


Yellow Barn State Forest may be accessed by taking NY RT 13 west of Dryden, then turning onto Yellow Barn Rd. which runs north to south along the western portion of the forest. There is also access by taking Irish Settlement Rd. off of NY RT 13, which crosses thru the eastern portion of the forest. Irish Settlement Rd. crosses through the Yellow Barn State Forest at geographic coordinates and 42.46551 N and -76.31872 W. The snowmobile trailhead on Tehan Rd. (which runs off of Irish Settlement Rd.) is at geographic coordinates 42.46984 N and -76.33338 W.

State Forest Regulations

Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:

  1. Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
  2. If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended. Three foot radius must be cleared around fire.
  3. All motorized vehicles are restricted to access roads posted as motor vehicle trails. Off road use of motorized vehicles, such as, trail bikes and four-wheel drives is not allowed, except where specifically permitted by signs, posted notice or by DEC Permit.
  4. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trail.
  5. Permanent structures, including tree stands or blinds, are not allowed.

Important Numbers

State Forest Office (M-F 8 am-4 pm): 607-753-3095 ext. 217

Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 607-798-1797

DEC State Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850

Emergencies: 911