In 1999 the State of New York purchased 29,000 acres in fee and an additional 110,000 acres of conservation easements from Champion International Corporation. This acquisition consists of three noncontiguous blocks, known as the Santa Clara Tract, Tooley Pond Tract and Croghan Tract, covering portions of ten towns in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Lewis Counties. The fee lands were purchased for their outstanding natural resource values, significant stretches of high quality recreational water, and other recreational opportunities. The acquisition of a conservation easement on the remaining lands will keep those lands as working forests while providing public recreation opportunities. Following their acquisition, fee lands were added to existing Forest Preserve units and are managed as part of those units. This web page deals exclusively with the conservation easement lands located in Lewis County, covering 13,054 acres and known as the Croghan Tract.
Location and Access
The Croghan Tract is located in Lewis County in the Towns of Croghan and Watson. The majority of the area is located north of the Beaver River, between the Fish Creek Road and the Prentice Road. A lesser acreage is located south of the Beaver River.
To reach the Croghan Tract - From the north, take NYS Route 812 to the Old State Road, about 3 miles north of Croghan. Turn left onto Old State Road (by the DEC sign on standard). At Belfort, continue straight on the Long Pond Road. There is a kiosk and map at the Fish Creek Road intersection (approximately. 2 miles east of Belfort) that shows the location of all State and Easement lands in the area - including the Croghan Tract easement lands.
Area Maps and Trip Planning
These conservation easement lands can be located on the Stillwater 7.5"x15" USGS topographic map. Maps are available in many book and outdoor stores or directly from USGS.
- Tips for Using State Lands. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, State Office Building, Watertown, NY 13601 (315) 785-2263.
- Adirondack Waterways. Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, P.O. Box 51, West Chazy, 12992 (518) 846-8016.
- Adirondack Great Walks and Day Hikes. Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, P.O. Box 51, West Chazy, 12992 (518) 846-8016.
- Adirondack Canoe Waters North Flow. Paul Jamieson and Donald Morris. 1998. The Adirondack Mountain Club. 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845 (518) 668-4447.
- Northern Region Guidebook. Peter V. O'Shea. 1995. The Adirondack Mountain Club, 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845 (518) 668-4447.
- Discover the Northern Adirondacks. Barbara McMartin. 1994. North Country Books, 311 Turner St., Utica, NY 13501 (315) 735-4877.
The Croghan Tract is one of the more remote areas of the Adirondacks. Since European settlement of the region, in the 1870's, the area has been owned by a series of large and small timber companies and utilized primarily for timber production. The limited road network through the property stems primarily from these activities. The area has a long tradition of use for hunting, fishing and trapping.
Land and Waters
The Croghan Tract is located in a transitional area between the Tug Hill Plateau and the more rugged area of the Adirondack Mountains. The terrain is generally rolling, with hardwood forests covering much of the area. Several major streams are located on the Croghan tract including, Fish Creek and Roaring Brook.
Fish and Wildlife
The streams, river, ponds and lake on or adjacent to these lands contain a variety of fish. Brook trout are found in Mud Pond, both French Ponds, Sand Pond, as well as Fish Creek and Roaring Brook. Bullheads are found in Mud Pond, Sand Pond and both French Ponds. Mud and Sand Ponds also have pumpkinseed.
Wildlife is plentiful throughout the Croghan Tract. Visitors may see or hear white-tailed deer, black bear, raven and gray jay, coyote, red fox, fisher, red squirrel, chipmunk, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse and wild turkey. Along the shorelines, bald eagle, muskrat, mink, otter, beaver and raccoon may be observed. Various songbirds typical of deep woods and disturbed areas are present throughout the area.
The Soft Maple Reservoir Waterway Access Site provides access to a great opportunity for smallmouth bass fishing. The site provides parking and a short accessible path designed for use with mobility devices and is suitable for launching a canoe or small cartop boat onto the reservoir. This access came about through an agreement with the power company which owns the shoreline of Soft Maple Reservoir and access roads cross Croghan Tract of the Champion Conservation Easement lands. These facilities are in the Town of Watson.
Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.
From the West: Take Rt 812 south about 17 to 18 miles from Harrisville or Rt 812 north 12 to 13 miles north from Lowville to the intersection with Old State Road. Go east on Old State Road to Belfort. In Belfort take Long Pond Road east. At mile 2 miles, Long Pond Road makes a sharp left at Fish Creek Road, proceed another 2 to 2½ miles to the Prentice Road. The preferred route is to continue on the Fish Creek road, but currently the bridge over Fish Creek is out. The alternate route is to turn right onto Prentice Rd. Follow the Prentice Rd and make a quick right near mile 7. Proceed south past the accessible trail at Sand Pond, cross Roaring Brook and continue on the Main Haul Road about 5 miles and the access site is on the left, before the bridge out on Fish Creek.
Special Public Use Restriction and Rules And Regulations
The following apply to the Croghan Tract Easement:
- Public motor vehicle access to these lands is restricted to designated primary access roads or public highways. Snowmobile use is permitted on designated roads or trails.
- No public hunting is permitted on the property from September 1 to January 1 of each year.
- During the northern zone regular big game deer hunting season, which is from the second to last Saturday in October through the first Sunday in December, public use of the property is restricted to designated Rifle Season Access Corridors. These designated routes may be used only to access adjacent State lands.
- Public hunting, fishing and trapping are permitted except for the period(s) described above.
- Please do not to trespass on adjacent private lands. The perimeter of Easement lands are generally marked with yellow paint blazes and signed with either Forest Preserve or Easement signage.
Water Travel and Safety
Canoes, kayaks and car top boats may be used on water bodies within the Croghan Tract. All water bodies are flat water. An accessible water access site is located on the property on Soft Maple Reservoir. Two additional water access sites are located on adjoin Forest Preserve lands at Sand Pond and Mud Pond. Both of these sites are accessible. All persons need to have an approved, wearable, personal flotation device. Operators of motorboats are required to conform to NYS Parks and Recreation Law.
Important Guidelines for Outdoor Recreationists
The Adirondack Forest Preserve's forests, mountains, lakes and rivers offer numerous opportunities for recreational pleasure, nature appreciation and an escape from the urban world. To help maintain the natural character of the Forest Preserve for your enjoyment and those that follow, please observe these simple guidelines:
- Plan Ahead - Plan your trip according to routes and time available, carrying the latest guidebooks and maps. Check weather forecasts before you depart. Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Park in designated areas only. Sign all trail registers.
- Prepare for Emergencies - Even for day trips, each party should carry a waterproof bag or pack with minimum emergency essentials: a basic first aid kit, pocketknife, space blanket, waterproof matches, rain gear, extra protective clothing, high energy food snacks, a whistle for signaling, a flashlight with extra batteries, a water rescue throw-bag, and at least 30 feet of rope. Bring sun screen and insect repellent. Dress for the weather. An approved, wearable, personal flotation device is required for anyone aboard a boat, kayak or canoe.
- Keep Parties Small - This reduces your impact on river environments and on the experiences of others. You will also increase your chances of seeing wildlife in and adjacent to the rivers and wetlands.
- Camping - Camping is permitted at designated sites only. Respect other campers by keeping noise to a minimum and keeping your site clean. Carry a tent in case interior lean-tos are full. A DEC camping permit is required if there are 10 or more persons in your group. Regardless of group size, all persons camping at one location more than three consecutive nights must possess a camping permit. These are issued by area Forest Rangers free of charge on a first-come first-served basis.
- Trails and Carries - River corridors are narrow strips of land bordering each river, and there is little room to disperse human impacts. Stay on designated carries (portages) and avoid making new trails. Designated carries provide safe routes around rapids, waterfalls, and other river hazards.
- Fires - No fires are permitted, except for cooking, warmth or smudge. Choose bare level ground, clear away leaves and twigs for three feet and lay stones in a fire ring. Use only dead and down wood. Be sure fires are extinguished, DEAD OUT, before you leave. Better yet, carry a portable stove. Stoves heat more quickly, are easier to clean and do not leave blackened rocks and partially burned firewood. They come in handy during wet rainy weather. Be careful with cigarettes and matches. Don't leave garbage in the fire pit. Report unattended fires to the local Forest Ranger.
- Water Supply - Wash dishes and yourself away from and below sources of water. Dispose of waste water away from streams and springs. Do not drink untreated water. Boil, filter, or chemically treat all water from natural sources to avoid microbiological contamination.
- Pack It In, Pack It Out - Leave the woods cleaner than you found them. Bring a garbage bag to carry out trash. Burying refuse is prohibited.
- Properly Dispose of Human Waste - Use a pit privy if one is provided. If not, bury all human waste under four inches of soil Stay 150 feet away from (and below) any water source.
- Take Nothing But Pictures - Enjoy but do not remove or deface plants, animals, fossils, minerals or other materials. Do not drive nails into trees, or peel birch bark.
- Firearms - Do not discharge a firearm in a parking or camping area or across a road open for traffic.
- Accidents or Emergencies - In case of an accident, at least one person should remain with the injured. Others should carefully note the location and contact the local Forest Ranger to report a lost or injured companion.
- If you get lost - If lost, keep calm, stay where you are and keep warm. If you think you can find your way out, following streams downhill will nearly always lead you to habitation. A large smoky fire is the best means to signal your position.
- Pets - As trail use increases, owners with dogs should consider fellow hikers so that restrictive measures will not be necessary to control pets. When others approach, leash your dog and keep him quiet. Keep him out of sources of potable water. Remove droppings from the trail and campsite area.
- Be Considerate of Others - Practice good river etiquette. Slower parties should keep to the right, if possible, and allow faster groups to pass. Groups from the same party should avoid spreading across the entire width of the river and maintain a tight group when encountering others. All river users should respect anglers on the river and not cross over fish lines or disrupt their fishing holes.
- Storage of Boats and Canoes - Boats and canoes may not be left stored on State land for more than 24 hours. All watercraft must be removed from State lands at the completion of each trip.
In Case of Emergency
Forest Fire, Search and Rescue: (518) 891-0235 (24 hours a day)
Ray Brook Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1326 or dial 911
Comments and Suggestions
These are public lands and waters owned by all of us and are a significant natural heritage for future generations. The Department of Environmental Conservation would like your suggestions on how to improve the management of this area. Please send your comments to:
DEC Lowville Office
7327 State Route 812
Lowville, New York 13367
For General Information:
If you require more information on the Croghan Tract, permits, or on any other lands administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation, or for Forest Fire, Search or Rescue during office hours, consult the office listed in the right sidebar. Normal office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 4:45 pm.
For camping permits, contact Forest Ranger John Scanlon at (315) 376-3225. If no answer, call (315) 376-3521 during office hours. Please plan ahead and try to get your camping permits arranged for two weeks or more in advance.
If you require additional information regarding the fishing and hunting regulations and licenses and other DEC programs, consult the office listed below. Normal office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30 am to 4:45 pm.
DEC Region 6 Headquarters,
State Office Building, Watertown, NY 13601 (315) 785-2263