Black River Wild Forest
Portions of South Shore Road, the second half of Mill Creek Road and Herkimer Landing Road are not passable to passenger vehicles. Four wheel drive trucks are recommended and even with these vehicles, access to some areas may not be possible.
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Herkimer Office: 315-866-6330; email@example.com
- Backcountry Emergencies: 518-891-0235 or 911 (24/7)
- Enforcement Matters: 1-877-457-5680 (24/7)
- Location: Towns of Ohio, Webb and Russia, Herkimer County; Towns of Forestport and Remsen, Oneida County. Small portions of this unit are within Lewis County (Town of Lyonsdale) and Hamilton County (Town of Morehouse)
- Wildlife Management Unit: 5H and 6J
- Map: Black River Wild Forest Unit Map - PDF (1.6 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The 127,135-acre Black River Wild Forest is located within the southwestern foothills of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and offers a broad spectrum of recreational opportunities, from snowmobiling near the adjacent communities of Old Forge and Otter Lake to hiking on foot trails in remote areas. Elevations within the unit range from 1,350 feet to 2,600 feet, with the highest relief found between Nicks Lake and Woodhull Lake and around North and South Lakes. Most of this area is characterized by a series of gently rolling hills interspersed with lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands.
State-owned forest preserve roads within the unit provide motor vehicle access (ATVs are prohibited) to numerous recreational destinations within the unit. Wolf Lake Landing Road, Mill Creek Road, South Shore Road, and Haskell Road/West Creek Road are the most popular roads in the Black River Wild Forest. Please be aware of other users (bikers, horseback riders and hikers) when traveling on them. Many of these roads become part of the snowmobile trail network during winter and are also closed to vehicular traffic during the spring "mud season". Additionally, some roads on the unit lead to private inholdings. Please respect private property and stay on state land. Conditions on all roads can change rapidly due to weather conditions. A scenic view of the southern end of the unit as well as the adjacent Ferris Lake Wild Forest is available from the end of the Ledge Mountain Overlook Trail (AKA Keegan's Trail).
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The area has over 90 miles of marked foot trails.
- Nicks Lake Trail - (Yellow and Blue Markers) 3.8 miles in total, from the Nicks Lake Campground parking lot or the Bisby Road parking area to the Nelson Lake and Nicks Lake Outlet trails. Legs of this trail also tie in with the Shoreline Trail (AKA Nicks Circuit Trail, 4.7 miles in total, originating in Nicks Lake Campground), Nicks Lake Road Trail and the Lock and Dam Trail.
- Nicks Lake Road - (Yellow Markers) 0.75 miles, from the Iron Bridge parking area to the junction with the Lock and Dam and Nicks Lake Trails.
- Lock and Dam Trail - (Red Markers) 0.2 miles, from the end of Nicks Lake Road to the Middle Branch of the Moose River.
- Nelson Lake Trail - (Blue Markers) 8.8 miles, from the intersection of the Nicks Lake and Nicks Lake Outlet Trails to the far end of the Nicks Lake Outlet trail. This trail splits into two legs, one that parallels the Moose River and the other a more interior portion. These two eventually link up with each other and can be hiked as a loop.
- Nicks Lake Outlet Trail - (Blue Markers) 10.4 miles, from the southern end of the Nelson Lake Trail to the Remsen Falls Lean-to and back to Nicks Lake Trail in the vicinity of Nicks Lake.
- Bear Lake Trail - (Blue and Yellow Markers) 5.1 miles in total, from Wolf Lake Landing Road to the Big Woodhull-Sand Lake Falls Trail (Blue Markers, 3.2 miles) and from Bear Lake to Bloodsucker Pond and Big Woodhull Lake (Yellow Markers, 1.9 miles).
- South Branch Trail - (Red Markers) 7.2 miles, from the McKeever Parking Area along the South Branch Administrative Road, past the road to Remsen Falls on to the Woodhull Mountain Fire Tower.
- Big Woodhull Trail - (Red Markers) 3.6 miles, from the end of Wolf Lake Landing Road to the end of Mill Creek Road and the beginning of the Sand Lake Falls Trail.
- Sand Lake Falls Trail - (Red Markers) 7.7 miles, from the end of Mill Creek Road to the Sand Lake Falls Lean-to and on to North Lake (Loop Road).
- Brewer Lake Trail - 2.1 miles, from Benchmark Road to Brewer Lake.
- Otter Lake Connector Trail - 1.1 miles, from Overlook Road (Dump Road) to Cohen Road.
- Brandy Lake Trail - 0.5 miles, from the Brandy Lake Trailhead Parking Area on Route 28 to the Otter Lake-Brandy Lake Trail.
- Otter Lake Outlet Trail - 1.1 miles, from the Brandy Lake Trail to the vicinity of Otter Lake (end of Lake View Road).
- Otter Lake-Brandy Lake Trail - 3.9 miles, from the intersection of Brandy Lake and Round Pond Trails southwest past Brandy Lake to Round Lake Road.
- Round Pond Trail - 2.0 miles, from the end of the Otter Lake-Brandy Lake Trail to the Moose River Road.
- Brandy Lake Foot Trail - (Yellow Markers) 1.0 miles, from the Otter Lake-Brandy Lake Trail south past the eastern end of Brandy Lake to Little Long Lake.
- Gull Lake Connector Trail - (Red Markers) 1.8 miles, from the western end of Mill Creek Road to the eastern end near the Gull Lake Road.
- Gull Lake Trail - (Yellow Markers) 2.0 miles, from the Chub Pond Trail to the Gull Lake Road and Gull Lake Lean-to Trail (adjacent to Gull Lake).
- Gull Lake Lean-to Trail - (Yellow Markers) 0.7 miles, from the end of the Gull Lake Road to the Lean-to.
- Chub Pond Trail - (Blue Markers) 5.3 miles, from Mill Creek Road to Chub Pond; the trail splits and both ends lead to lean-tos on opposite sides of the lake.
- Little Woodhull Trail - 4.5 miles, from the trailhead on North Lake Road past Little Woodhull Lake to the Sand Lake Falls Trail.
- Stone Dam Trail - (Yellow Markers) 5.6 Miles, from the trailhead on North Lake Road to the Chub Pond Trail.
- Twin Lakes Trail - 2.8 miles, from the trailhead on Farr Road to the Twin Lakes Outlet.
- Mad Tom Lake Trail - 5.2 miles, from Remonda Road to Black Creek Lake Road
- Mad Tom Lake Spur Trail - 0.1 miles, from Mad Tom Lake Trail to Mad Tom Lake.
- Mill Creek-Black Creek Lake Trail - 2.5 miles, from Haskell Road to Black Creek Lake Road.
- Round Top Trail - 1.8 miles, from the end of Black Creek Lake Road through a private inholding (stay on the trail) to Herkimer Landing Road.
General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Gull Lake Lean-to
There are numerous designated campsites throughout the unit with the most popular being located at North Lake.
- North Lake - 30 sites, 9 of this total are "paddle-to" sites on the eastern shore of the lake on the North Lake Conservation Easement Lands with the remainder being along Loop Road.
- Along Wolf Lake Landing Road - 9 sites. A camping permit from the local forest ranger is needed to use these sites - call 518-897-1300 for assistance.
- South Lake - 3 sites.
- Reeds Pond, along North Lake Road - 3 sites
- Along Haskell/West Creek Road - 4 sites.
- Along Mill Creek Road - 3 sites.
- An accessible camping site is located on Little Long Lake. This site is a "paddle-to" campsite which can be accessed through the car-top boat launch along Long Lake Road
There are Lean-tos at the following locations: Nelson Lake, Remsen Falls (North Side of the South Branch of the Moose River), Bear Lake, Woodhull Lake, Gull Lake, Sand Lake Falls, Chub Pond (there are two here, on the northern end of the pond and one on the southeastern corner) and North Lake. Camping elsewhere on the Black River Wild Forest is allowed as long as the chosen site is more than 150 feet from a road, trail or any water body. Several state-run campgrounds, including Nicks Lake Campground, are also located nearby.
General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
The Black River Wild Forest provides numerous opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. Accessible hand-carry (or car-top) boat launches are located at Little Long Lake and Woodhull Lake. Another boat launch site is located at South Lake. North Lake, a popular destination for paddling enthusiasts, and the other waters on the unit can be accessed informally. If paddling sections of the nearby Middle and South Branches of the Moose River, be sure to scout these waters before entering them since navigation can be very difficult, if not dangerous, due to shallow water, rocks and/or rapids.
General information on mountain biking includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations
Mountain biking is allowed on the following trails only: South Branch Trail (AKA South Branch Administrative Road), Big Woodhull-Sand Lake Falls Trail, North Lake-Sand Lake-Mill Creek Trail, Little Woodhull Trail, Gull Lake Trail, Chub Pond Trail, Twin Lakes Trail, Otter Lake-Brandy Lake Snowmobile Trail, Round Pond Trail and Nicks Lake Trail. If mountain biking, please be careful of, and yield to, other users of the trail.
Numerous roads within the Black River Wild Forest, specifically Mill Creek, Wolf Lake Landing, Loop, South Shore, Black Creek Lake and Haskell/West Creek Roads also offer a quality biking experience. Please be careful of motor vehicle traffic if biking on one of these roads.
General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations
North Central NY Fishing provides information on fishing in the Adirondacks and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.
Help Protect Native Adirondack Fish populations of brook trout, round whitefish and other native Adirondack fish species have severely declined due to introduced fish.
Numerous angling opportunities can be found on the Black River Wild Forest. Woodhull Lake is noted for its lake trout fishing. The former state record brook trout was caught at South Lake. Beaverdam Pond on the Honnedaga Brook Trail off Haskell Road contains brook trout. Nicks Lake provides fishing for a variety of species.
Stream fishing for trout and other species can be found on the Middle and Southern Branches of the Moose River and the Black River. Woodhull Creek, Bear Creek, Mill Brook, Black Creek and West Canada Creek all offer brook trout fishing.
Hunting & Trapping
The area is open for hunting and trapping though not notable for any particular species. Most commonly pursued species are deer and bear.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Note: DEC is currently amending the Unit Management Plan to classify all snowmobile trails to conform to the 2006 Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondacks. Some trails that are currently open to snowmobiling will be closed and not listed here. There will be a few new trails constructed which will be added here once they exist on the ground.
The following trails, totaling approximately 53.9 miles, are open to snowmobiling: Mad Tom Lake Trail, Mad Tom Lake Trail Spur, Bullpen Trail, Round Top Trail, Twin Lakes Trail, Little Woodhull Lake Trail, North Lake-Sand Lake-Mill Creek Trail, Chub Pond Trail, Gull Lake Trail, Big Woodhull Trail, Otter Lake Connector Trail, Brandy Lake Trail, Otter Lake-Brandy Lake Trail, Round Pond Trail, Otter Lake Outlet Trail and portions of the Nick's Lake Trail.
Note that many roads on the Black River Wild Forest, including Wolf Lake Landing Road, Mill Creek Road, Cohen Road, South Shore Road, Herkimer Landing Road, Black Creek Lake Road and Haskell/West Creek Road are open to snowmobiling during the winter as well.
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available on all trails throughout the Black River Wild Forest.
General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers
There is a fire tower at the end of the South Branch Trail on the summit of Woodhull Mountain. The top of the tower is not open to the public.
General information on horseback riding includes safety tips and rules & regulations
A 6-mile designated horse route from the McKeever Parking Area (on Wolf Lake Landing Road) heads east along the South Branch Trail to the Remsen Falls Trail, then along the Remsen Falls Trail to Wolf Lake Landing Road, then back south along the road back to the parking area.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
The Adirondacks contain large tracts of wildlife habitat with some boreal, bog, alpine and other unique habitats. Many birds (Common Loon, Peregrine Falcon) and mammals (Moose, Black Bear) are unique to the Adirondacks or are mainly found here. Over 50 species of mammals and hundreds of species of birds inhabit or pass through the Adirondacks at one time of the year or another.
Throughout this unit, and the Adirondacks as a whole, you are likely to encounter wildlife. Please be respectful of wildlife and do not feed them, especially bears. "If you care
The adjacent Nicks Lake Campground is a Watchable Wildlife site.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
Little Long Lake Primitive Campsite
Featured at this location is an accessible pull-off for unloading a canoe or car-top boat, an access route to the water suitable for use with mobility devices, and reserved parking. From the launch site a short paddle across the lake brings you to a primitive campsite. There are two tent pads with fire rings and an accessible privy located here. The facilities are connected by a short accessible trail and are located in a wooded setting adjacent to the lake.
Accessible trail to campsite
Take state Route 28 north from Alder Creek. Proceed north to intersection with county Route 63 (Round Lake Road) just one-third mile north of the Adirondack Park Line. Take county Route 63 one-half mile to the intersection with Long Lake road. Take a right on the Little Long Lake Road and proceed for approximately 1.1 miles, where you will see a small boulder-lined parking lot on the right (next to a road intersection). This is the access site.
- Little Long Lake Campsite: (43.555748°N, 75.157464°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Little Long Lake Boat Launch: (43.552627°N, 75.154298°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Woodhull Lake Accessible Hand-carry Boat Launch
With a MAPPWD permit, persons with disabilities can drive to an accessible hand-carry boat launch on Woodhull Lake or it may be accessed on foot by others.
State Route 28 in Herkimer County. Turn east off route 28 into the hamlet of McKeever. Look for the small sign "access to state land" and the dirt lane (cross the railroad tracks) to the trail head. Be sure to sign in at the register. Take the Wolf Lake Landing Road for almost 6 miles to the locked gate. MAPPWD permit holders can call the Herkimer DEC office (315-866-6330) and get the lock combination. Call ahead to confirm the combination before each planned trip, as it changes. After passing through the gate it is a short drive down to the water and the boat launch. (43.601482°N, 75.020045°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Remsen Falls Picnic Site
A view of Remsen Falls on the
Moose River from the picnic site
With a MAPPWD permit, persons with disabilities can drive to the Remsen Falls picnic site or it may be accessed on foot by others. An accessible parking space and privy are located here, connected by a trail suitable for use with mobility devices, to an accessible picnic table located in a very wild setting on the shore of the Moose River, a short distance from the falls, in Black River Wild Forest.
Remsen Falls picnic site
State Route 28 in Herkimer County. Turn east off route 28 into the hamlet of McKeever. Look for the small sign "access to state land" and the dirt lane (cross the railroad tracks) to the trail head. Be sure to sign in at the register. Take the Wolf Lake Landing Road for 3 miles to the sign pointing left to Remsen Falls. This is a MAPPWD road (motor vehicle access by permit only) with a locked gated. Permit holders can call the Herkimer DEC office (315-866-6330) and get the lock combination. Call ahead to confirm the combination before each planned trip, as it changes. The road from Wolf Lake Landing Road to the Remsen Falls parking is best suited to truck and SUV travel. It is narrow and also rough in a few spots. The road is about one-half mile long to an accessible parking area. (43.625500°N, 75.035796°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
See a full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.
Trailhead Parking Areas are located throughout the unit.
- Iron Bridge Parking Area: Between the hamlets of Old Forge and Thendara on Green Bridge Road (on the south bank of the Middle Branch of the Moose River), there is parking available for 2-3 vehicles (43.694409°N, 74.998501°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website. Hold down the "Shift" key when clicking the link to open it in a new window.)
- Bisby Road Trailhead Parking Area: South of the hamlet of Old Forge on Bisby Road (Nicks Lake Trailhead). There is parking available for 2-3 vehicles (43.693191°N, 74.977980°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Nelson Lake Trailhead Parking Area: South of the hamlet of Thendara on State Route 28 (43.646939°N, 75.078587°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- McKeever Parking Area: Adjacent to the hamlet of McKeever, take McKeever Road (east) off of State Route 28 into McKeever. Look for the small sign "access to state land" and the dirt lane (cross the railroad tracks) to the parking area (43.612519°N, 75.090496°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Wolf Lake Landing Road Parking Spaces: At the end of Wolf Lake Landing Road, there is room for 2-3 cars to park off of the side of the road. Please note that this parking area is not open during the winter time or the spring "mud season" (43.601981°N, 75.021386°W). Google Maps(Leaves DEC website)
- Brandy Lake Trailhead Parking Area: South of the hamlet of Otter Lake on the west side of State Route 28 (43.571998°N, 75.129183°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Little Long Lake Parking Area and hand carry Boat Launch Site: South of the hamlet of White Lake, Take Round Lake Road off of State Route 28 then turn right (north) on to Long Lake Road. The parking area is just before the intersection of Capron Road. The lake and the accessible hand carry boat launch are on the opposite side (west) of the road (43.552378°N, 75.154118°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Bear Creek Parking Area: East of the hamlet of Woodgate. At Woodgate Four Corners (on State Route 28) turn on to Bear Creek Road and
follow it approximately 3.1 miles to the parking area (43.541348°N, 75.101290°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Gull Lake Road Parking Area: At the Bear Creek Parking Area, the Bear Creek Road (a town road) becomes Mill Creek Road (a Forest Preserve Road). Follow this road (to the east) approximately 2 miles just past the Gull Lake Road to the parking area. Please note that this parking lot is not open during the winter time or the spring "mud season" (43.559648°N, 75.073365°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Stone Dam Trailhead Parking Area: Along North Lake Road just east of the Herkimer County Line. Please note that there is limited parking available here and this parking area is not plowed during the winter (43.456726°N, 75.066113°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Little Woodhull Lake Trailhead Parking Area: Along North Lake Road, south of the hamlet of Atwell. Please note that there is limited parking available here and this parking area is not plowed during the winter (43.507115°N, 74.967086°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Twin Lakes Trailhead Parking Area: On Farr Road, south of its intersection with North Lake Road, limited parking available (43.472184°N, 75.008716°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- South Lake Parking Area and hand carry Boat Launch Site: Along South Lake Road on the north end of South Lake (43.518289°N, 74.907917°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Ledge Mountain Overlook Trailhead Parking Area: Along State Route 8, west of the hamlet of Wilmurt. Please note that the access road to this parking area and the trail cross private land - stay on the road. Limited parking is available and this parking area is not plowed during the winter (43.381510°N, 74.918520°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
- Haskell Road Parking Area: Turn north on to Haskell Road from State Route 8 in Nobleboro and follow approximately 3 miles to the parking area (43.423025°N, 74.835863°W). Google Maps (Leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace principles (Leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts other backcountry users.
How We Manage Black River Wild Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Black River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan. 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.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
- Moose River Plains Wild Forest
- Fulton Chain Wild Forest
- Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness
- Nicks Lake Campground
- Ferris Lake Wild Forest
- West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area
- Hinckley Day Use Area
- John Brown Tract Conservation Easement
- North Lake Conservation Easement
- Flatrock Mountain Conservation Easement
- Popple Pond State Forest
Gas, dining opportunities, lodging, food and other supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Old Forge, Otter Lake, Forestport, Boonville or Remsen.
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce (leaves DEC website), Oneida County Tourism (leaves DEC website) and the Old Forge Visitors Center (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.