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Yellow Barn State Forest

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Yellow Barn State Forest

Yellow Barn State Forest covers 1,289 acres of land. The forest is primitive in nature and passive recreational activities such as hunting, trapping, and snowmobiling can be enjoyed.

Lady Slipper at Yellow Barn State Forest

Featured Activities


primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

At-large primitive camping is allowed. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.



General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations.

Fishing Access information is available.

Fishing Easement information is available.

Hunting & Trapping


General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.



General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

Yellow Barn State Forest 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.

Yellow Barn State Forest


General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

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.


Yellow Barn State Forest may be accessed by taking NY RT 13 west of Dryden, then turning onto Yellow Barn Road which runs north to south along the western portion of the forest. There is also access by taking Irish Settlement Road off of NY RT 13, which crosses thru the eastern portion of the forest.

Irish Settlement Road crosses through the Yellow Barn State Forest at geographic coordinates (42.46551°N, 76.31872°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

The snowmobile trailhead on Tehan Road (which runs off of Irish Settlement Road) is at geographic coordinates (42.46984°N, 76.33338°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Yellow Barn State Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage Yellow Barn State Forest

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.

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.


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.

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.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us info.r7@dec.ny.gov

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

Tompkins County Tourism Office (Leaves DEC website)

Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby community of Ithaca.

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.