Stewart State Forest
- Open for recreation: Year round, except closed to non-hunters during regular big game hunting season. Portable toilets available from April into the Fall.
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office: (845) 256-3000 M-F (8:30am - 4:45pm), e-mail: email@example.com
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: (518) 408-5850 or 911
- Location: New Windsor, Montgomery and Newburgh, Orange County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 3M
The 6,700-acres of Stewart State Forest are unique in the northeast and increasingly rare in the Hudson Valley. A mix of wetlands, fields and forest, the site includes 18 miles of gravel roads and more than 22 miles of major trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting, dog training and trials, skiing, snowmobiling, bird watching and fishing.
The new boardwalk across the Great Swamp makes several
new hiking or biking loops possible.
Be sure to visit the new Great Swamp boardwalk and trail on the island. The new boardwalk connects the east and west sides of the Great Swamp and makes some nice hiking loops possible.
Directions to the new boardwalk: From Ridge Road parking lot: Head south on Maple Ave., after about 1.4 miles, there will be a sign on the right for the Great Swamp walkway. Turn right and continue a half mile to the boardwalk. Horseback riders will find a place to tie up their horses before the entrance to the boardwalk.
You can also reach the west side of the boardwalk via the Schofield Lane Trail, head south on the trail, there will be a spur trail heading off to the left. Total distance is less than three miles. There is a hitching post on the west side of the boardwalk as well.
Note: Those who need to drive to the parking lot at the east end of the boardwalk will need a permit that allows access for people with disabilities. (MAPPWD permit). The permit is free. When your permit application is approved, you will receive the combination to the locked gate on Maple Rd.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Unless specifically posted as foot trails, all trails on the property are multiple use trails.
Purchase a Trail Supporter Patch to provide funding for maintenance of trails and related facilities.
The trails on the map are identified by letter.
- Maple Avenue to Weed Road travels through meadows, old farm woodlands and fields. 1.3 miles.
- New Road to Barron Road South travels through farm fields, woods and 2 ponds. 2.9 miles.
- New Road to Barron Road North travels through dry woods, cedars, pines and under power lines. 1.3 miles.
- Orlando to Barron Road travels through wetlands, moist woods and under power lines. 1.3 miles.
- Pittman-Robertson Pond Road travels along a one-lane farm road, fields, a pond and through woods. 1.0 miles.
- Windsor Woods to Ridge Road travels along an old road through woods. Seasonal flooding. 1.2 miles.
- Windsor Woods to New Road travels through deep woods and hemlocks. 2.0 miles.
- Scofield Lane Trail travels through disturbed woods and on a ridge above a swamp. 2.0 miles.
- Raincoat Factory/Lindsay Road Loop travels through woods, fields and near 2 ponds. 1.4 miles.
- Restoration Pond and Beaver Pond Farm Lane is for vehicles by permit. 0.8 miles.
- Buchanan Hill Trail includes the highest point in this forest at 658 feet and travels through fields and forest with views and a pond. 1.8 miles.
- Armstrong Lane wetland and farm trail travels through a wetland and former farm woods. 0.5 mile.
General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations
Stewart State Forest features seven larger ponds and many smaller ones for fishing. The deepest are 6-acre Whalenburgh Pond, 3-acre Wilkens Pond, and 2-acre Rowes 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.
Hunting & Trapping
Stewart State Forest is one of the most popular hunting destinations in the state. Each year, thousands of sportsmen and women flock to Stewart to take advantage of its diverse habitats and abundant game populations. White-tailed deer and ringnecked pheasants are the most commonly pursued game species at Stewart. However, the area also provides high-quality turkey, waterfowl, rabbit, squirrel, and furbearer hunting.
Trapping is allowed in season. Trappers may access the area by motor vehicle from October 1 to December 31 between one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset. Trappers must not park in designated hunter parking areas.
All hunters and trappers must comply with all applicable State regulations and those specific to Stewart State Forest.
Access to Stewart State Forest for the Fall Hunting Seasons
Stewart State Forest is open to the public during the small game and special big game (archery and muzzleloader) hunting seasons. However, access during the Regular Big Game Season is restricted to licensed hunters and trappers for the purpose of hunting and trapping. Licensed hunters and trappers can gain vehicular access to the interior road network and internal parking areas through the Weed Road gate from October 1 through December 31 between one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset (road and weather conditions permitting). Vehicle access to the interior of the area is also permitted for participants in the statewide youth pheasant hunting weekend (the weekend immediately preceding October 1). All other users are prohibited from accessing the property by motor vehicle unless permitted by the Department and must park in an exterior parking area.
The Department and Orange County Federation of Sportsmen host an annual Youth Hunting Day on the 4th (fourth) Saturday in October. We ask hunters to be accompanied by a junior hunter (ages 12-15) when hunting the property during this weekend.
Reservations for the Regular Big Game Hunting Season
Reservations are required for the first two days (Saturday and Sunday) of the Regular Big Game season. To make a reservation, call Tuesday, 11 days before opening day, beginning at 8:30 AM. Only one reservation will be accepted per phone call. The telephone number to make a reservation is 845-256-3095.
DEC staff will be at the hunter check station on Weed Road one hour before sunrise to check in hunters on mornings when reservations are required. Hunters must claim their reservations by 7:00 AM. Unclaimed reservations may be reassigned after that time. Vacating a parking area after 8:00 AM will result in forfeiture of a party's reservation for the remainder of the day.
Nighttime Furbearer Hunting
Nighttime furbearer hunting is allowed in season. Night hunters, however, are prohibited from accessing the interior of the area by motor vehicle and must park in one of the peripheral parking areas.
Hunting Opportunities from January 1 to September 30
Hunting for all species is allowed in season; however, vehicle access to the interior area is prohibited. Hunters and trappers must park in one of the peripheral parking areas and access the area on foot, bicycle, horse or snowmobile. Special permits are available for people with disabilities to access the area with a motor vehicle. See Rules and Regulations section for more information.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Camping is only allowed by permit in specially designated group camping areas. Required camping permits are issued by Forest Rangers (845) 256-3026. 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.
General information on horseback riding includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Horses are allowed on all public roads and trails except the Orchard Trail, Beaver Pond Trail, Rock Wall Trail and the boardwalk over Great Swamp. Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses and out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Snowmobiles are only permitted 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".
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Mountain biking is allowed on designated trails and multiple use trails.
General information on watchable wildlife includes tips for viewing wildlife and links to other watchable wildlife locations
Stewart State Forest is a New York State Watchable Wildlife site and is 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 frogs and salamanders that love small wetlands surrounded by woods and fields.
Wildlife to Watch
- Wild turkeys
- White-tailed deer
- Great blue herons
- Pied-billed grebes
- Blue-winged warblers
- American woodcock
- Jefferson, blue-spotted and marbled salamanders
Where to Watch
- 18 miles of trails and gravel roads
- Fields and meadows attract many songbirds
- Seven larger ponds and many smaller ones, including the 6-acre Whalenburgh Pond, 3-acre Wilkens Pond, and 2-acre Rowes Pond
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
The boardwalk over Great Swamp and the parking lot closest to it on Great Swamp Road are both accessible. In addition, designated roadways on Stewart State Forest are accessible by car for people with disabilities through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD). A permit must first be obtained from DEC. Special arrangements must be made to obtain combinations for entry at selected gates.
Stewart State Forest is in northeast Orange County west of Newburgh and Stewart International Airport. There are numerous parking areas located throughout the state forest - see map for locations. The general coordinates for the state forest are N41.490578, W74.16358 (Google Map - leaves DEC website).
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 (41.470282°N, 74.164528°W). Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Parking is available along the shoulder of South and North Barron Roads outside the gates (41.517093°N, 74.18189°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Parking is available east of Drury Lane (Rt. 747) along Route 207 (41.480865°N, 74.117509°W). Google Map (leaves DEC website). You can also access Rt. 747 from Exit 5A on I-84.
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.
Site-Specific Rules for Stewart State Forest
In addition to the above rules, certain regulations pertain specifically to Stewart State Forest (§190.34 Stewart State Forest) (link leaves DEC website.)
- 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: (1) 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 (2) 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: (1) persons possessing a permit for such use from the Department; or (2) 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 (3) 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.
- The vehicular speed limit on DEC roads is 25 mph.
Don't Move Firewood. The insects it carries could kill the forests you love.
How We Manage Stewart State Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Stewart State Forest Unit Management Plan (PDF, 5 MB) (UMP) In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 (845) 256-3076.
Stewards of Stewart friends group website (leaves DEC website)
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
- Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest
- Roosa Gap State Forest
- Shawangunk Ridge State Forest
- Kowawese Unique Area
- Baxtertown Woods Wildlife Management Area
- Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center
Lodging and dining opportunities as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Montgomery, Newburgh and New Windsor.
Orange County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
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.