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Yellow Lake State Forest

Yellow Lake State Forest locator map

hikingPrimitive CampingHuntingTrappingFishingpaddlingHand Launch siteaccessibleparkingicon key

The 751-acre Yellow Lake State Forest is sandwiched between Yellow Lake and the Oswegatchie River. Steep cliffs on the southeast shore of Yellow Lake offer scenic views, but prevent fishing and boating access. You can fish the Oswegatchie River from shore or hand-launch a small boat at the Wegatchie Fishing Access Site.

The topography is very hilly with thin soils and rocky exposed ridge tops. There are few tree plantations on this property. Lower quality sites are dominated by red oak, eastern hophornbeam, hickories, and other species adapted to dry and nutrient-poor soils.

Featured Activities



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

The Yellow Lake Overlook Trail (red markers) begins at the bridge on Chisholm Road and leads northward 1.4 miles through a mixed forest of northern hardwoods and red oak. This hiking trail ends at two scenic overlooks bordering Yellow Lake. The property also provides large undeveloped areas well suited for hunting, hiking and nature viewing.


primitive camping
Overlook of Yellow Lake
Overlook of Yellow Lake

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

Primitive camping is allowed. Campsites must be at least 150 feet from the nearest road, trail or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of 10 or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 6A

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

Hunting and trapping are allowed during appropriate seasons.



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

Yellow Lake State Forest provides access to the Oswegatchie River.

Nearby, there is also an access site for Yellow Lake. The hand boat launch off of Hall Road provides access to the lake for fishing by boat only. The launch is not suitable for shoreline fishing. The lake is shallow and weedy throughout with abundant panfish and warm water predators. Largemouth bass and northern pike, while not generally trophy class, can be found in good numbers. Panfish are abundant with some bluegills up to 10 inches.



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

Yellow Lake State Forest features an accessible hand launch on the Oswegatchie River. The lake itself can be accessed by a hand boat launch located nearby off of Hall Road, on the northwestern side of the lake.


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

Some of the former agricultural lands comprising this state forest have become overgrown fields and shrublands which provide habitat for the Golden-winged warbler, which is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in New York State.

Accessible Features


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

The parking lot, path to the water, and hand launch on the Oswegatchie River are accessible to people of varying abilities. Please be advised that the river level fluctuates, affecting accessibility at the water's edge. At the nearby Yellow Lake hand launch off of Hall Road, there is an accessible parking space but the launch itself is not accessible.


This forest can be accessed from Chisholm and Campbell Roads in the town of Rossie.

  • Chisholm Road Parking Area (44.307097°N, 75.594697°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Yellow Lake hand launch off of Hall Road (44.346710°N, 75.593743°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 Yellow Lake 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.

Planning and Management

DEC developed the draft St. Lawrence Rock Ridge Unit Management Plan that describes proposed management activities for this and several other state forests in the area. DEC accepted public comments on the draft until April 30, 2022. Questions about this draft UMP may be sent to

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Lodging and dining opportunities as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby community of Gouverneur.

St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce (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.

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