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Bonaparte's Cave State Forest

hikingprimitive campingfishingAccessible fishing pierhuntingtrappingMotorized Access Program for People with Disabilitiesparkingicon key

Bonaparte's Cave State Forest locator map

As it's name would indicate, this 1,435-acre state forest and the surrounding countryside have historical roots tied to Napoleon Bonaparte. Local legend, along with some historical fact, has it that Napoleon Bonaparte's brother and his family escaped from Europe to this area after his famous brother was arrested. It is said that they eluded hired assassins by hiding out in the rocky ledges and small caves on the northwest edge of what is today known as Green Pond. Most of this forest is natural hard maple, red maple, hemlock, basswood and a small but unique component of black ash. Black ash is harvested locally and is used by artisans in the making of baskets.

Featured Activities



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

North Mud Pond Trail (0.66 mile) and Mud Pond Ext. Trail (.011 mile) are hiking only trails that offer views of Mud Pond. There are an additional 2.15 miles of unpaved roads that offer multi-use opportunities. The 0.8-mile Corbine Forest Access Road is an extension of the Corbine town road and provides vehicular access to this forest westerly from the Hands Flats Road.


primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

The camping opportunities at Bonaparte's Cave State Forest include four primitive campsites and two accessible primative campsites located on Mud Pond and Waugh PFA Roads. Campsites are delineated and include tables, fire rings and privies. There is no potable water source. No trash pickup is provided. This is a carry in-carry out facility.

At-large primitive 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.


a view of Green Pond
Green Pond Accessible Fishing Pier

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

This forest includes three ponds: Green, Mud, and Duck. The latter two are both quite shallow, with few fish, but the deep waters of Green Pond provide excellent early season trout fishing. In the 1990's, a state record brook trout was caught here. There is also an accessible fishing pier on Green Pond, which can be accessed from Green Pond Trail.

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

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 6C

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


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

Accessible Features

Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

The 0.45-mile Green Pond Trail located in the southwestern portion of the forest, allows motorized access for people with mobility impairments. A permit is required through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities.

There are two ADA accessible primitive campsites. One is located on Mud Pond and one is on Waugh Public Forest Access Road (PFAR).

There is an accessible fishing pier located on the shoreline of Green Pond which features excellent fishing opportunities for brook trout.

Note: The road to Green Pond Accessible Fishing Pier is locked by a gate as it is open only to ATV's with MAPPWD permits. Permit holders can call the Lowville DEC office (315-376-3521) and get the lock combination. Call ahead to confirm the combination before each planned trip, as it changes.


Map of Bonapartes Cave State Forest

From Harrisville, take NY State Route 3 south for 0.6 mile to North Bonaparte Road. Turn right and proceed 2 miles.

  • Green Pond Trail parking area (44.15287033°N, 75.36279948°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Bonaparte's Cave State 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

Mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are allowed on the property; however, there are no trails on this property currently maintained for these activities.

Planning and Management

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Westward Waters Unit Management Plan. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas may be found in the nearby communities of Natural Bridge and Harrisville.
  • Lodging, dining opportunities, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby community of Harrisville.

Lewis County Chamber of Commerce (leaves DEC website) and Adirondacks Tug Hill (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guidebooks 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.