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Sandy Creek State Forest

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Sandy Creek State Forest locator map

Sandy Creek State Forest encompasses 538 acres. Activities such as, hunting, trapping and nature observation are all popular at this State Forest, which sits on the edge of the Tug Hill Plateau. Sandy Creek has no designated recreation trails.

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.

A photo of the forest and a creek in Sandy Creek State Forest

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

Given the remote setting of this property, there are many opportunities for visitors to view a wide variety of wildlife. Turkey and ruffed grouse, as well as a wide variety of song birds and raptors, are quite common within the forest. Deer, weasel, fox, coyote, muskrat and squirrels frequent the forest; thus, hunting and trapping are popular activities. Many different amphibians and reptiles flourish in this area, including the marbled salamander, red-spotted newt, eastern painted turtle, common snapping turtle, rat snake and five-lined skink.


Sandy Creek State Forest may be accessed by taking NY I-81 to exit 36. Follow NY Route 11 North until Canning Factory Road and turn right. Follow Canning Factory until Orton Road and turn left. There is parking on the side of Orton Road. There is also parking access by taking Orton Road to Cummings Road.

(43.603033°N, 76.0801727°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 Sandy Creek 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 Sandy Creek State Forest

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

Sandy Creek State Forest consists of a mix of mature natural hardwood, and northern hardwood-hemlock cover types. Species such as red maple, black cherry, white ash, sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, red oak and hemlock decorate the woods with their foliage. Conifer plantations planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s and Department planting through the 1950s can also be found throughout the property, consisting of mainly white pine, red pine, and spruce.

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 principles 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.


The land that encompasses Sandy Creek State Forest was last molded twelve thousand of years ago with the receding of the last massive glacier that covered the ground. The rocks that were left behind, shale and sandstone, underlie the area and help define the region. High levels of precipitation from snow melt and rain supply an abundance of wetlands, streams and rivers, all noted for their pristine character.

The Roosevelt Administration developed the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 in order to authorize the Conservation Department to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These State Forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land, were to be "forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes" (Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, Environmental Conservation Law).
The majority of the land that now makes up Sandy Creek State Forest was originally purchased by New York State during the 1930s for reforestation purposes. Prior to this point, the landscape had been comprised of a matrix of crop lands, open fields, forest, meadows and homesteads. Unfortunately for many farmers, the upland soils that are commonly found in this area are thin, highly acidic, and predominately rocky and course. When taken together with the long, harsh winters which typically ravage the area, it is easy to understand why many of the early farms were unsuccessful.

Since the area was purchased by the state Sandy Creek Forest has been managed to promote forest health, timber production, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. Today, the forest provides diverse economic, ecological and recreational services to the people of New York State.

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

Oswego County Tourism Office (Leaves DEC website)

Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Pulaski.

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.