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Crystal Lake Wild Forest

hikingprimitive campingboatingpaddlingfishinghuntingtrappingskiingsnowshoeingparkinghand launchicon key

Crystal Lake Wild Forest locator map
  • Open for recreation: Year-round
  • Fee: Free
  • Contact Information:
    • DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM): (845) 256-3000; email: R3admin@ny.gov
    • Law Enforcement, Emergency & Rangers: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
  • Location: Town of Fremont, Sullivan County
  • Wildlife Management Unit: 4W
  • Map: The map of Crystal Lake Wild Forest is not available at this time || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper

The 497-acre Crystal Lake Wild Forest includes a 32-acre man-made lake, seeps and streams, wetlands and an old beaver pond. The lake shore and surrounding moist woodland provide habitats for trilliums, wild leeks, Jack-in-the-pulpits and Dutchmens britches. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills (highest elevation 1,980 feet), quite steep along its eastern shore.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking
view of Crystal Lake including boat launch on right

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

A 1.3 mile yellow-marked foot trail circles the lake.

Camping

primitive camping

General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Camping is allowed at three locations within 150 feet of the lakeshore. No permits for groups of 10 or more will be issued for designated lake shore campsites. No temporary camping permits will be issued to individual under 18 years of age. There are also seven other campsites available away from the water.

At-large backcountry 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.

Paddling

paddling
view of Crystal Lake from the boat launch
view of Crystal Lake from the boat launch

General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Crystal Lake features a hand boat launch open to paddling and boating.

Boating

boating

General information on boating includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations and lists of DEC boat launches by county

Crystal Lake features a hand boat launch open to paddling and non-gasoline motored boating.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations

Crystal Lake has a brook trout population that is supported by natural reproduction. The use of baitfish is prohibited to help protect the brook trout fishery.

In 1987, a partial dewatering of the impoundment provided an opportunity to remove smallmouth bass from the lake and attempt to establish a brown trout population. Currently, there is a 10 inch size limit and three fish daily bag limit for trout. Brown bullhead and golden shiner are also in the lake. Anglers should check the current fresh water fishing regulations for and know the statewide regulation and the regulations pertaining to specific waters.

Southeastern NY Fishing provides information on fishing in the Catskills and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-county skiing
snowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

There are no groomed or maintained trails, however cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations

The Catskills are home to an abundance of wildlife. With both larger mammals (including deer, bear, and bobcat) as well as smaller mammals (including porcupine and fisher) the Catskills have several unique habitats. In addition to the many mammals found in the Catskills, hundreds of species of birds can also be found in the Catskills.

Wildlife

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

The Catskills are home to an abundance of wildlife. With both larger mammals (including deer, bear, and bobcat) as well as smaller mammals (including porcupine and fisher) the Catskills have several unique habitats. In addition to the many mammals found in the Catskills, hundreds of species of birds can also be found in the Catskills.

Directions

view of the Crystal Lake dam
view of the Crystal Lake dam

There is 1 parking area and a hand boat launch that can be used to access the Crystal Lake Wild Forest. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Crystal Lake Parking Lot: From Route 17, take County Road 92 to County Road 96 (Tennanah Lake Road) to Crystal Lake Road, the entrance to the property, lake and parking area. (41.869924°N, 75.019553°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Crystal Lake Boat Launch is located off of Crystal Lake Road, 0.2 miles west of the Crystal Lake Parking Area. (41.869944°N, 75.023413°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Catskills to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other backcountry users.

All users of Crystal Lake Wild 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.

Specific Rules

  • To protect back country resources, state law requires all campsites to be at least 150 feet from any road, trail or water source, except at sites designated by DEC. A designated site is either a lean-to or a campsite marked with a yellow "camp here" disc.
  • Camping permits are required when camping 4 or more nights or with a group of 10 or more. Contact the Forest Ranger for a permit at 845-240-6792.
  • Campfires are permitted below 3,500 feet in elevation, but only dead and down wood may be used. In a designated campsite, use the existing fire ring and burn wood no larger than that which can be snapped in your hands-it's sure to be dead, dry and will burn down to ash. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure your fire is cold before breaking camp.
  • Bear Precautions - Using nylon cord, hang all food, garbage and toilet articles a minimum of 15 feet above the ground and an additional 10 feet from any adjacent tree trunks or overhead limbs and a distance of 150 feet from camp.
  • Keep a clean camp. Wastewater should be taken a minimum of 150 feet from any water source and gently sprayed into the underbrush as against pouring it into a sump hole. Cooking water should be strained of any food particles and treated in a similar fashion. This distributes rather than concentrates the dirty water, dispersing both the impact and related odors that attract wildlife. All food waste should be packed out.
  • Human Waste - If available, use the privy. If not, dig a "cat-hole" 6-8 inches deep, a minimum of 150 feet from any water source. Cover waste with soil and leaf litter. Minimize the use of toilet paper and burn or pack it out. When appropriate, use leaves instead. Treat feminine products as you would all other garbage and pack out as well.
  • Drinking Water - The department cannot ensure the purity of any water source. Giardia lamblia is a water borne parasite which can cause severe and prolonged intestinal disorder and has infected the water supply as a result of poor human sanitation habits. Boil all water for 2 minutes, filter or treat chemically.
  • If you Bring Your Pet - Your pet must be under your control at all times. When others approach, particularly small children and other animals, leash your dog. Keep your pet quiet. Remove droppings from the trail and camping areas.

How We Manage Crystal Lake Wild Forest

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Crystal Lake Unit Management Plan (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 would like to obtain a copy of the UMP, please contact us at r3.ump@dec.ny.gov.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

DEC Lands and Facilities

Gas may be found in the nearby communities of Callicoon, Hankins, North Branch and Roscoe.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Callicoon, North Branch and Roscoe.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Callicoon, Long Eddy, North Branch and Roscoe.
Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Callicoon Center, Long Eddy and Roscoe.

Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) and Sullivan 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.