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Mongaup Valley WMA


Lake at Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management AreaThe Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area consists of 11,855 acres of land; 6,313 acres of land owned by the State of New York and 5,542 acres of land on which the State owns conservation easements. The Area and the surrounding landscape consist of forested rolling hills which are deeply dissected by streams and rivers. Soils are thin and rocky, particularly along the steeper slopes bordering the Mongaup River and its associated reservoirs. Human population is sparse and development is mostly residential.

The Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in southwestern New York approximately 75 miles northwest of New York City in the Towns of Bethel, Lumberland, Forestburgh, and Highland in Sullivan County and the Town of Deer Park in Orange County. The Area is bordered by the Delaware River at its southernmost point and encompassed by State Routes 42 to the east, 17B to the north, and to the west by State Route 55 and Sullivan County Routes 32 and 31.

View or download a map of Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area (PDF) (582 kB).

Habitat / Ecological Communities

Upland Communities

The majority of the Area is upland and the majority of the upland is forested. However, these are not virgin forests because most of the area was logged and/or cleared at some point. There are four major upland forest communities on the Area: pine-northern hardwood forest(occupies largest acreage on the Area), pitch pine-oak forest, Appalachian oak-hickory forest, and hemlock-northern hardwood forest. In some places these communities are intermixed and can be difficult to differentiate.

Old fields and shrubland are rare on the Area and usually occur where a dwelling once stood.


There are seven different types of wetland communities on the Area. These wetland communities are nontidal freshwater systems on either open or forested mineral soils or open peatlands. Open mineral soil wetlands occur on the Area as three distinct communities: shallow emergent marsh, deep emergent marsh, and shrub swamp. Forested mineral soil wetlands occur as two distinct communities on the Area: floodplain forest and hemlock-hardwood swamp (most abundant wetland community on the WMA). Open peatland communities occur on the Area as sedge meadow and perched bog.


A variety of wildlife can be found on the WMA. The most notable habitants of the Area are bald eagles. Also, white-tailed deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, coyote, fox, porcupine, black bear, waterfowl, and other bird and mammal species abound on the area.

The reservoirs and various other bodies of water on the Area contain as many as forty-two different species of fish which include: small mouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie, pan fish and stocked and wild trout.

A wide variety of reptile and amphibian species may also be found on the Area. These species includes the timber rattlesnake, the Eastern Hognose snake, wood turtles, Eastern box turtles, and the marbled and Jefferson salamanders.

Recreational Opportunities

Viewing Area at Mongaup Valley WMAHunting, trapping (with a special permit), wildlife observation and wildlife photography on the Area are encouraged.

The fisheries resources on the WMA provide for a myriad of varied fishing experiences for the angler. Boat launches are available on Swinging Bridge, Mongaup Falls and Rio Reservoirs. The Mongaup River between and below the reservoirs is an excellent wild trout fishery. Canoes and rafts can be launched on the Delaware River from an access site on Route 97 just west of the intersection with County Route 31. There are special regulations for the use of Cliff Lake, where fishing is allowed from a boat, but you must carry your boat approximately one mile to the launch point. Special fishing regulations may apply, so check your fishing guide.

There are also numerous trails available on the WMA for hiking, biking (where appropriate), snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Please be aware that the area is rocky and rugged and there are few amenities along the trails, but many of the views are spectacular and are well worth the effort.

Public access is not allowed on the conservation easement lands.

Accessible Eagle Viewing Blinds

Eagle viewing blinds, located on County Route 43 and Plank Road at Rio Reservoir, are provided to assist visitors in watching the eagles without disturbing them. Please stay in the blind or in your vehicle as you watch the birds. Visit the Bald Eagle Viewing page for more helpful tips.

Accessibility logo

There is accessible parking at both viewing blind locations and a wooded access path to the Plank Road blind.

For a full listing of DEC's accessible recreation destinations, visit our Accessible Recreation Destinations page.

Directions to the eagle viewing blinds

Take State Highway 42 from Monticello or Port Jervis. In the Town of Forestburgh, turn to the west on Forestburgh Rd. (County Rte. 43). Proceed 0.75 mile to Plank Rd. Turn left onto Plank Road and proceed 2.5 miles to the parking area on the right. To visit the second viewing blind, return north to County Rte. 43, turn left and proceed 1.5 miles to the bridge at the head of the reservoir.


The WMA is managed for the protection and conservation of bald eagles and their habitats. Access to many parts of the property is restricted from December 1 through March 31 each year to minimize disturbances to wintering bald eagles. Please be aware of the bright yellow or pink restricted area signs around the reservoirs and water courses and abide by them.

This WMA also contains the Mongaup Valley Bird Conservation Area.

The public access and wildlife management programs are designed to protect and enhance this unique resource for future generations. Your compliance with the area's regulations is an important step toward this goal.

Rules and Regulations

The following acts are prohibited:

  • Parking of motor vehicles in other than designated parking areas or beyond the quotas of the parking areas.
  • Operating a motor vehicle on the area except on designated access roads. Off road vehicles are prohibited on the area.
  • Except on Swinging Bridge Reservoir, use of gasoline powered motors on boats, canoes and other watercraft. Electric motors are permitted. There are no restrictions on motors on Swinging Bridge Reservoir.
  • Launching of vessels at other than from designated launches.
  • Overnight mooring or storage of boats.
  • Discharging of firearms except at wildlife which may be legally hunted.
  • Cutting, damaging or removal of any living vegetation or standing dead vegetation.
  • Swimming or bathing.
  • Setting or maintaining a fire.
  • Littering.
  • Camping.
  • Entering within 200 feet of any dam.
  • Entering onto the surface of the water or ice on the Mongaup River, or Swinging Bridge, Mongaup Falls, or Rio Reservoirs or entering the upland surrounding those waters as designated by posted signs from December 1st through March 31st.

All persons must comply with all regulatory signs posted by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Public Use of Cliff Lake:

  • Pedestrian access to Cliff Lake is permitted from May 1 through November 30 for fishing only.
  • Vessels may be launched and retrieved only from the designated boat access site.
  • Shoreline fishing is allowed only from the designated boat access site.
  • Access to and use of Cliff Lake is prohibited from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.

Cliff Lake and the surrounding uplands do not belong to the State of New York but are private property. Please follow the regulations for its use.