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Chateaugay State Forest

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Chateaugay State Forest locator map

Recreational Activities

  • Primitive Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking, Wildlife Management Unit 6K
  • Hunting
  • Nature Photography/Observation
  • Snowmobiling
  • Trapping

Background Information

Chateaugay State Forest covers an area of 3, 465 acres in the town of Orwell in northern Oswego County on the edge of the Tug Hill Plateau. Activities such as hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hunting and trapping are popular activities within the forest. Orwell and Peking Brooks provide excellent fishing opportunities and are a picturesque place for a picnic. Primitive camping is available at Chateaugay; there are several spots that are suitable for an overnight stay.

The abundance of many game animals makes this a favorite spot for both hunting and trapping, with white-tailed deer, wild turkey, as well as ruffed grouse found throughout the property. In addition to hunting, the high hardwood canopy mixed with low ground cover make an excellent place to view many species of song birds. The nature enthusiast and avid birder are likely to see or hear birds such as the Red-eyed Vireo, Veery, Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue Jay, and a host of other song birds. Raptors such as the Red-tailed hawk also have nests that can be seen throughout the forest.


Currently, there are eight miles of marked trails within Chateaugay State Forest that offer opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

  • Trail 1 - 1.3 miles long, runs along Orwell Brook. This trail is ranked easy with low changes in incline.
  • Trail 2 - .8 miles. Accessed from New Scriba Drive parking area. Trail head is fairly wide and the trail ranges from 0% to 3% grade with a small 8% grade hill.
  • Trail 3 - .4 miles. One of the most demanding trails, trail 3 has many small hills that can be 10% to 15% grade and can be narrow in parts.
  • Trail 4 - .1 miles. Fairly easy connecting trail with no grade exceeding 3%.
  • Trail 5 - .6 miles. Also ranked easy; this trail has very small elevation changes with no hills more then 3% grade.
  • Trail 6 - .4 miles. This trail runs by nearby Orwell Brook. This trail has many rolling hills at about 5% grade.
  • Trail 7 - . 2 miles. The most difficult trail. Several inclines exist ranging from 5% to 15%.
  • Elf trail - 1 mile. This trail twists through beautiful pines with most of the terrain flat but some small inclines up to 4% exist.

Trail Etiquette

  • Pass only in flat areas. The faster trail user should verbally indicate a desire to pass. Slower users should yield by moving to the right where possible.
  • Users going down hill have the right of way because they are typically moving faster and may have less control.
  • Do not descend a hill until the trail is clear.
  • After a fall, move off the trail as quickly as possible to minimize the risk of collisions.
  • When skiing, fill in the sitzmarks before proceeding after a fall.
  • Do not hike or bike in the ski tracks.
  • The DEC requests that Horse Back riders and Mountain Bikers not ride during wet conditions


The land that is now a part of Chateaugay State Forest was last molded twelve thousand years ago by the residing Wisconsin Glacier blanketed the ground. The rocks left behind (shale and sandstone) after the glaciers melted underlie the area and are defining characteristics of the Tug Hill Plateau region.

According to the New York State Tug Hill Commission, Tug Hill's elevation and position in respect to Lake Ontario results in lake effect snowfall exceeding 200 inches annually, making the area well known for its winter activities.

Originally utilized by early settlers for timber and farm land, Chateaugay State Forest's many rock walls can still be easily seen throughout the woods. In fact, it is believed that many of the stone walls that remain in this forest were built by Vic and George Waggoner of Orwell, who were known for their walls and stone bridges in the surrounding area. Many of the older walls were built in the early-to-mid 1800's and are still in great condition today. As you walk or ski the trails of Chateaugay Forest, you may notice the incredible stonework scattered throughout the forest.

Field Notes

With its vast natural attributes, Chateaugay State Forest is a diverse area that provides many benefits to people and wildlife.

Small flowers at Chateaugay State Forest

The responsibility of managing State Forests to enhance and maintain a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem for both society and wildlife falls to DEC Foresters. They strategically employ forest management to develop a balanced mix of young, middle-aged, and old (late successional) forest types that will continue to benefit New Yorkers for many generations to come.

Chateaugay State Forest is part of the Eastern Lake Ontario Unit Management Plan. The plan is currently being written by DEC staff. 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.


From 81 South. Take exit 36, the Pulaski exit. Turn left onto County Route 2 East. Go 10 miles, the parking area is on corner of Beecherville Road and County Route 2.

From 81 North. Take exit 36 Pulaski exit. Make a left onto State Route 13 West (Rome Rd.). Go 1.1 miles and make a right onto State Route 11 North (Salina Street). Go .4 miles and make right onto County Route 2 (Maple Ave). Go 10 miles parking area is on right on the corner of Beecherville Road and County Route 2.

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): 315-298-7467
Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 315-625-7261
DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850
Emergencies: 911