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Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area

Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area locator map

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View of wetlands and open water
Wetlands and open water at Wilson Hill WMA.

The primary purposes of Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA is an open water wetland adjacent to the St. Lawrence River. Wilson Hill WMA is a 4,000-acre area that consists of several large open water pools of approximately 1,800 acres bordered by cattail, shrub swamp, forest, and meadows.

Being in close proximity to the St. Lawrence River, the area is ideal for nesting and migrating waterfowl. It is not uncommon to find 15 to 20 different species of waterfowl on the area during the spring and fall migrations. The shallow impoundments of the area provide habitat for dabbling ducks, diving ducks, and geese. In addition to waterfowl, there are raptors and the emergent marsh supports an abundance of wetland furbearers.

Featured Activities



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

Please stay on the designated trails to protect the diversity and richness of the plant communities found within this area.

Hunting and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 6A

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

Special entry and permit restrictions are in place at this WMA to protect key habitats and provide high-quality hunting opportunities. Wilson Hill WMA Wetlands Regulations lists permitted hunting opportunities and describes access restrictions.

This WMA is renowned for its excellent waterfowl hunting. Deer and small game hunting is available. Big game hunting in the restricted area is limited to archery only (see Wilson Hill WMA map). Big game hunting with firearms is allowed on the public hunting areas. Woodcock and grouse, along with the pheasants that are stocked during the fall, provide upland bird hunting. Controlled hunting and trapping are allowed during the fall and winter. Hunters must register to enter the area on those days the area is open. Trapping is by seasonal permit. The public use zones are open all year. Please be sure to abide by all game laws (view hunting seasons and trapping seasons).


Picture of canoeing during the goose drive

General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and 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.

Wilson Hill WMA is divided into three zones: refuge, restricted use, and public use. There is no public access allowed in the refuge area, however there are two observation towers that are open year-round to provide wildlife observation opportunities. The observation tower along Route 131 provides a good overlook for birdwatchers. In the restricted use zone, there is no public access during most of the spring and summer. Use the Wildlife Management Area Vertebrate Checklist (PDF) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) as wildlife viewing guides.

Accessible Features

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

Accessible platform
Accessible viewing platform at
Wilson Hill WMA.

The Nichols Trail at Wilson Hill WMA features 1.5 miles of accessible trail that roughly follows the southern shore of the Nichols Pool Habitat Improvement Project. There are three accessible spur trails off the main trail that lead to viewing locations along the shoreline, including an accessible observation blind that is also available as an accessible waterfowl hunting blind during the duck hunting season. The trail is constructed of compacted crushed stone dust, with nine boardwalk sections ranging from 22 to 250 feet in length.

There is one designated parking spot at the trailhead parking area. The trail provides access for hunting big game, small game, and waterfowl during the appropriate seasons. Wildlife that can be observed from the trail include terns, loons, ducks, geese, frogs, grouse, otters, and turtles.


Wilson Hill WMA is located in St. Lawrence County, approximately 6 miles west of the village of Massena along state highway Routes 37 and 131.

All Google links leave DEC website.

Wilson Hill Brown Sign

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 Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area must follow all Wildlife Management Area Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Activity Rules & Regulations

Prohibited activities at Wilson Hill WMA include​:

  • hunting after sunset
  • fishing within the WMA wetlands (except during the Wetlands Open House from 16 to 31 August)
  • trespassing within the Wetlands Restricted Area without a permit or within the Wildlife Refuge (except during the Wetlands Open House from 16 to 31 August)

For a complete list of all WMA rules and regulations please see Wildlife Management Area Regulations (PDF) and Public Use Regulations for Wilson Hill WMA (leaves DEC website).

Outdoor Safety Tips

NOTE: Ticks are active whenever temperatures are above freezing, but especially so in the late spring and early fall. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme and several other diseases. More information on deer ticks and Lyme disease can be obtained from the NYS Department of Health (leaves DEC website).

How We Manage Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area

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Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Wilson Hill WMA is managed by DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife for wildlife conservation and wildlife-associated recreation (hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, and photography). Funding to maintain and manage this site is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration or "Pittman-Robertson" Act, which is acquired through excise taxes on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment.

Extensive work is being done on the dyke system and water regulation systems on the area by the New York Power Authority and will vastly improve DEC's ability to manage water levels in the future for the benefit of the wetland habitats.

View the Habitat Management Plan for Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area (PDF), approved in April 2017, which identifies the WMA-specific target species and habitat goals for the WMA.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

Web links below can provide information about other recreation, attractions, and amenities in this area.

State Lands and Facilities

Numerous guide books 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.

Wilson Hill WMA Wetlands Regulations

Public Use of Wetlands Restricted Area

The following special regulations apply to users of the areas posted as WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA. Users of the area posted as PUBLIC HUNTING AND FISHING should follow the appropriate WMU 6A and general Wildlife Management Area regulations.

Specific Hunting Regulations

Hunter access to the WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA is by permit (registration) only. If the permit station is closed, hunters must sign in at the registration kiosks located outside of the permit station or at the Nichols Trail parking area. Hunters must provide ALL requested information on registration form and must submit game for examination before leaving the Wetlands Restricted Area when the permit station is open OR sign out and report their take, if the station is closed.

The WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA is CLOSED to all hunting from 1 APRIL until 31 AUGUST.


Pre-season scouting is NOT allowed in the WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA, except for during the summer Open House from 16 August to 31 August.

Small Game and Furbearer Hunting

The WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA is open for the following types of game hunting during the appropriate fall and winter seasons on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays only.

September Goose Season: Hunting is permitted from one-half hour before sunrise until 12:00 noon. Hunters must leave the area by 2:00 PM. ZONE A will be CLOSED during this season.

Northeastern Zone Waterfowl Hunting Season: Hunting is permitted from one-half hour before sunrise until 12:00 noon. Hunters must leave the area by 2:00 PM.
On opening weekend only - hunters may begin entering the area no earlier than one (1) hour before legal hunting hours.

An Accessible Waterfowl Hunting Blind is available for the youth and regular waterfowl hunting seasons. Call the Project office for more information.

Junior and Military Active Duty and Veterans are allowed to hunt pheasants and migratory game birds during the scheduled special seasons.

All other Hunting: Hours are from sunrise to sunset on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays only, from 1 October until 31 March. Hunters must report harvest and leave the area by one (1) hour after sunset.

Deer Hunting

The WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA is open for archery-only hunting by permit each day of any Northern Zone bow, muzzleloader, or regular deer season. Archers must leave the area by one (1) hour after sunset.

Rifle and muzzleloader hunting are NOT permitted in the WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA. Crossbows MAY be used during the appropriate Northern Zone deer hunting seasons.


Permits area available for both the spring and fall seasons by contacting the Bureau of Wildlife at the Watertown office at (315) 785-2263.