Stewart State Forest
The 6700-acres of Stewart State Forest are unique in the northeast and increasingly rare in the Hudson Valley. A mix of wetlands, fields and woods, the site includes 18 miles of gravel roads and over 22 miles of major trails which provide unparalleled recreation - hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting, dog training and trials, skiing, snowmobiling, bird watching and fishing. Old farm fields take you to an earlier gentler time in our nation's history.
Stewart State Forest is in northeast Orange County west of Newburgh and Stewart International Airport. Take New York State Thruway Exit 17 or the Thruway exit from I-84. Follow signs to the Airport and continue west on Routes 207/208 to access the southern border of the property. To access from the north, take Route 17K to Ridge or Barron Roads. Parking for cars and horse trailers is available at the north end of Ridge Road and at Weed Road. Parking is also available along the shoulder of South and North Barron Roads outside the gates, and east of Drury Lane (Rt. 747) along Route 207 (See Map). You can also access Rt. 747 from Exit 5A on I-84.
The Stewart Bufferlands and the Supersonic Airport
In 1971, today's Stewart State Forest was first set aside as the "Stewart Bufferlands," when the State condemned 8,076 acres to the west of then Stewart Air Force Base. The land was to become the east coast's premier Super Sonic Transport (SST) airport, and the large buffer was needed for expansion and noise abatement. The State bought 802 parcels of land, removing 337 farms and houses, and almost 1,200 people.
The airport expansion and SST plans were abandoned by 1982 and commercial flights began at Stewart in 1990. The airport's long runway remains one of several emergency landing sites for the Space Shuttle. Between 1974 and 1999, the DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife managed Stewart as a Cooperative Hunting Area. The "Stewart Bufferlands" were turned over to the DEC in 1999 and 2006, after decisions were made concerning several development proposals for parts of the property.
More than 400 acres of land is still being
farmed at Stewart State Forest
The mix of uplands, working and abandoned farm fields, meadows and wetlands create a unique landscape in an area where most parks and protected lands are forests or mountains. The Wildlife Conservation Society immediately saw Stewart as a one-of-a-kind place for animals needing transitional habitats - birds and butterflies that love grasslands and bushes, turtles and snakes that love open sandy fields, and salamanders that love small wetlands surrounded by woods and fields. In short, a place for animals facing a housing shortage.
Between 250 and 900 acres are mowed at least once every six years to maintain grasslands. Trees are being removed in some locations to maintain shrublands or remove hedgerows. Additional work by Central Hudson Gas and Electric helps by encouraging shrubs under its power lines. Attempts are underway to remove or control invasive plants. Managing native trees and fields helps wildlife, such as turkeys and bats, and rare plants. Harvesting of some forest trees helps others grow, creating a rich, healthy and beautiful forest for the future. Stewart State Forest is required to provide sites for re-creating wetlands destroyed or damaged by construction at Stewart International Airport. Our goal is to get wetlands which best protect nature and recover quickly.
Ticks: Ticks are common at Stewart State Forest. Ticks are active year round whenever temperatures are above freezing. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme and several other diseases. Wear light colored clothing to find ticks easily. Please check yourself when leaving so you don't spread them. For more information, contact the Health Department at www.health.ny.gov.
Invasive species: Stewart State Forest was intensely farmed for many years and contains many non-native plants. Please check your clothes and shoes to make sure that you are not carrying seeds to new locations.
Permits are required for organized events, motor vehicle access, and group camping and fires (limited to designated areas). Permits are available for mobility impaired users. Some trails on the property may be closed. Others are being improved to avoid overuse and erosion.
Hiking: Hiking is allowed on the property. Please see the attached map for trail locations. Please note that unless specifically posted as foot trails, all trails on the property are multiple use trails. Roadways on Stewart State Forest are accessible by car for people with disabilities, but a permit must first be obtained from DEC. Special arrangements must be made to obtain combinations for entry at selected gates.
Camping: Camping is only allowed by permit in specially designated group camping areas and must be greater than 150 feet from any trail, road or water body.
Snowmobiling: Allowed on designated trails.
Mountain biking: Allowed on designated trails or multiple use trails.
Horseback Riding: Allowed on all multiple use trails and roads.
|Trail Name||Description||Trail Length (miles)|
|A. Maple Avenue to Weed Road||meadows, old farm woodlands and fields||1.3|
|B. New Road to Barron Road South||farm fields, woods, 2 ponds||2.9|
|C. New Road to Barron Road North||dry woods, cedars, pines, power lines||1.3|
|D. Orlando to Barron Road||wetlands, moist woods, power line||1.3|
|E. Pittman-Robertson Pond Road||one lane farm road, fields, pond, woods||1.0|
|F. Windsor Woods to Ridge Road||old road, woods, seasonal flooding||1.2|
|G. Windsor Woods to New Road||deep woods, hemlocks||2.0|
|H. Scofield Lane Trail||old road to trail, disturbed woods on ridge near swamp||2.0|
|I. Raincoat Factory/Lindsay Road Loop||disturbed lands, woods, fields, ponds||1.4|
|J. Restoration Pond and Beaver Pond Farm Lane||vehicles by permit||0.8|
|K. Buchanan Hill Trail||highest point at 658 feet, fields, forest, views, pond||1.8|
|L. Armstrong Lane wetland and farm trail||wetland, former farms, woods||0.5|
Hunting and Trapping
Hunting is a traditional use on state forest land. Stewart State Forest supports good populations of a number of big-game, small-game, and furbearing species including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, eastern cottontail, gray squirrel, woodcock, and waterfowl species. Furthermore, several gamebird species have traditionally been stocked by the state or local sportsmen's groups at Stewart. Hunting at Stewart State Forest is guided by statewide laws and regulations and special, Stewart State Forest-specific regulations (please see Special Regulations for Stewart State Forest lower on this page). Beginning October 1 and continuing through December 31 or the date when road conditions become unsafe for use, the gate at Weed Road is opened to allow hunters with a valid hunting license to access the property's interior road network with a motor vehicle for the purpose of hunting. Vehicular access is limited to the hours of one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset.
During this period (Oct. 1 to Dec. 31), hunters:
- must park in a designated parking area,
- must hunt on the same side as they are parked,
- may not cross roads while hunting, and
- may not enter areas posted as restricted.
During the period when vehicle access is prohibited (January 1 to September 30 and nighttime hours from October 1 to December 31), the area is also open for hunting in season; however, hunters must park in exterior parking lots and access the area on foot or bicycle during those times.
The use of rifles, except .22 caliber rimfire handguns, is prohibited at Stewart State Forest. Stewart is closed to non-hunters during the Regular Big Game Hunting Season (approximately mid-November to the second week of December). Reservations are required to hunt the first two days (Saturday and Sunday) of the Regular Big Game Hunting Season. To make a reservation for these days, hunters must call 845-256-3095, on Tuesday, 11 days before the opening day, beginning at 8:30 AM. Only one reservation per call will be accepted. Hunters are required to claim their reservation at the Stewart State Forest check station by 7:00 AM on the day of the reservation. Unclaimed reservations may be reassigned and vacating a parking area after 8 AM will result in forfeiture of the party's reservation for the remainder of the day. For more information, contact the Bureau of Wildlife or see DEC's trapping and hunting guides for more information, including season dates.
Stewart State Forest, like all State Forests, is open to trapping for various furbearers in season. From October 1 to December 31 (or when unsafe conditions force the closure of the roads), the Weed Road gate is open to allow vehicular access for trappers with a valid trapping license. Trappers are asked to not park in the designated parking spots as these spaces are used by hunters. During the remainder of the trapping seasons (after December 31), trappers must walk in or use a snowmobile. Trappers may use a .22 caliber rimfire handgun to dispatch trapped animals. More information about trapping regulations, including season dates, can obtained by contacting the Bureau of Wildlife or consulting DEC's hunting and trapping guide.
Ponds and Fishing
Almost half of the land in Stewart is wetland - swamp, marsh, wet meadow or woods. There are seven larger ponds and many smaller ones. The deepest are 6-acre Whalenburgh Pond, 3-acre Wilkens Pond, 2-acre Rowes Pond, and nearby 12-acre Tenny's Pond. The smaller ponds offer warm water fishing for bass, sunfish, shiner, bullhead and perch, with a larger selection at Tenny's, including eel, carp, crappie and pickerel. New York State fishing regulations apply. Electric or non-motorized vessels only.
In addition to the above Tips, certain regulations pertain specifically to Stewart State Forest
§190.34 Stewart State Forest
In addition to other applicable general provisions of Part 190, Use of State lands, the following requirements apply to Stewart State Forest. In the event of a conflict, these specific requirements will control.
- Description. For the purposes of this section, Stewart State Forest means all those state lands lying and situated in the Towns of New Windsor, Montgomery, Hamptonburgh and the Village of Maybrook in Orange County and consisting of the State-owned lands designated by the department as State Reforestation Area Orange #4, Stewart State Forest.
- No person shall operate or possess a mechanically propelled vessel other than an electric powered vessel on any water body on the property.
- No person shall possess or discharge a rifle or handgun on the property, with the exception of .22 caliber rimfire handguns.
- Camping is by permit only and limited to designated sites. The permit must be obtained prior to set-up. Camping is prohibited from the first day of the early bowhunting season in the Southern Zone to the last day of the late muzzleloading and bowhunting season in the Southern Zone.
- No person shall operate or possess a snowmobile except:
- on trails designated and marked by the department as a "Snowmobile Trail" and only when the trail is completely covered with snow and/or ice; and
- on frozen lakes and ponds when access to same may be gained by public highways lawfully designated for snowmobile use, or by trails designated and marked by the department as a "Snowmobile Trail".
- No person shall kindle, build, maintain or use a fire except by permit from the Department.
- No person shall operate a motor vehicle on the property, except:
- persons possessing a permit for such use from the Department; or
- licensed hunters and trappers entering the area between one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset for the purpose of hunting or trapping from October 1 to December 31, except when unsafe conditions prohibit such access; or
- adults accompanying youth pheasant hunters participating in the statewide youth pheasant hunt;
- From October 1 to December 31:
- Any person hunting must park their motor vehicle in a designated parking area and only then if the parking quota for that parking area is not filled.
- Hunters shall hunt only on the same side of the road as their vehicles are parked.
- Crossing of roads while hunting is prohibited.
- No person shall hunt or trespass in areas posted as restricted areas, except as permitted by the Department.
- No person shall enter Stewart State Forest during the Regular Hunting Season for deer as provided by Environmental Conservation Law section 11-0907, except for licensed hunters and trappers for the purpose of hunting or trapping or by permit from the Department.
- No person shall enter Stewart State Forest during the first two days of the Regular Hunting Season for deer without obtaining a reservation from the Department prior to entrance.
Stewart State Forest Hunter Parking Space Map (See the map link at the top of this page)
In addition, vehicular speed limit on DEC roads is 25 mph.
DEC encourages volunteers who wish to give back to the land with trail maintenance, interpretive materials, invasive plant removal, garbage removal and wildlife habitat improvement. Please contact DEC for details at 256-3076.
Important Phone Numbers
NYS DEC Region 3, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561-1620
State Forest Management (845) 256-3076
Forest Rangers (845) 256-3026
Hunting (Wildlife)(845) 256-3098
Fishing (845) 256-3161
Law Enforcement (845) 256-3013