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Sandy Creek State Forest

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Sandy Creek State Forest locator map

Recreational Activities

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

Background Information

Sandy Creek State Forest encompasses 538 acres and is located in the town of Sandy Creek in northern Oswego County. 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 of New York State. Sandy Creek is a forest without designated recreation trails.

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


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.

Field Notes

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

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.

***Stay Safe- Bring A Friend When Out In The Forest***


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.

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