Charles Baker State Forest
Charles Baker State Forest is named after the first District Forester who administered it. This property totals over 9,400 acres in southeast Madison County and makes up the core area for the Brookfield Trail System. This highly acclaimed horse and snowmobile trail system has over 130 miles of trails set throughout three state forests (Charles Baker State Forest, Brookfield Railroad State Forest, and Beaver Creek State Forest) that make up the Brookfield unit management area. These three forests collectively provide 13,750 acres of public reforestation lands for multiple recreation purposes. For those who prefer to drive through the forest, the Brookfield Auto Tour Guide (PDF) (1.9Mb) provides highlights of the state forest.
The assembly area on Moscow road is the beginning of the trail system. The assembly and camping area can accommodate campers and approximately 150 horses with covered tie stalls, stallion box stalls, a pavilion and picnicking and camping facilities. Drinking water, accessible toilets and a mounting platform for people with disabilities is also provided. Googling 1700 Moscow Road, Brookfield, NY will bring up an aerial map of the assembly and camping area.
The recreational trails are open for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and mountain biking use. Equestrian riding has a season set from May 1st through October 31st each year. Several trails are open for ATV use by permit only for people with disabilities (PDF) (446 Kb). Organized trail rides or events need a temporary revocable permit (TRP) which can be obtained through the local Lands and Forests office in Sherburne. Plan on two to three weeks for processing prior to the event. An application fee is also required for the TRP. Further information on these permits can be obtained through any NYS DEC office throughout the state.
A fire tower once rose above the forest. During fire season, an observer lived in a cabin at the base of the tower. Today, the tower is gone, but the 500 acres surrounding the old tower is being managed for a natural area, where eventually no timber harvesting will be done.
The State Forest is a blend of red, white and Scotch pine and Norway spruce plantations with natural hardwoods consisting of American beech, sugar maple, red maple, black cherry, white ash, basswood and eastern hemlock. A myriad of habitats can be found on the forest, supporting populations of deer, turkey, ruffed grouse and migratory songbirds. Various forest products have been removed over the years, supplying market demand for paper products, construction lumber, cabin logs and fine furniture.
Charles Baker State Forest is part of the Brookfield Unit Management Plan. 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. Lands and Forests staff are working on the draft Brookfield UMP; it will be available to the public when it is completed.
Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:
- Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
- If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended.
- All motorized vehicles are restricted to access roads posted as motor vehicle trails. Off road use of motorized vehicles, such as ATVs, trail bikes and four-wheel drives is not allowed, except where specifically permitted by signs, posted notice or by DEC permit.
- 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.
- No permanent structures should be established, including tree stands or blinds.
Anyone enjoying the forest must follow the rules and laws which protect both people and the forest environment.
Special Regulations for Charles E. Baker State Forest
- No camping in the State Forest until May 1st.
- Off road trails are closed to horse and mountain bike travel from October 31 to May 1
- Horse owners must have a current negative Coggins certificate in accordance with Agriculture and Markets Rules and Regulations, Part 64 and carry such with them.
- Out-of-state horse owners may be required to produce a 30 day health certificate.
- Horses may not be run, galloped or cantered in the assembly area.
To access the forest, take State Highway 12 to Madison County Route 74 (Larkin Road) heading East. This will bring you to Moscow road. Turn right and proceed south approximately 1/4 mile. The camping and assembly areas will be on your left. A parking area in the assembly area will offer space for large rigs and day use parking. For camping permits, contact the State Forest Ranger at 315-886-1669.
State Forest Office (M-F 8 am-4 pm): 607-674-4017
Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 315-886-1669
DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850