Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Thursday, May 18, 2023

DEC Encourages Equestrians to Ride Only on Designated Otter Creek Horse Trails

Riders Can Help Minimize Impacts to Forest by Following DEC Trail Markers

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today advised equestrians to stay on the designated Otter Creek Horse Trails to help prevent damage to State lands. The Otter Creek Horse Trails, located in both the Independence River Wild Forest Unit of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and on the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forest on the western border of the Adirondack Park in Lewis County, include nearly 65-miles of interlocking trails for equestrian use.

As the trails begin to open, riders are asked to stay on designated trails marked with DEC trail marker discs. The Otter Creek Trails pass through several ecologically sensitive areas and designated trails are designed to minimize impacts to the environment. Horses travelling off-trail may cause erosion, trample vegetation, fragment habitat, and/or introduce invasive species. After just a few passes, user-created trails become visible, increasing the likelihood of other users riding off-trail. Undesignated trails are often called "informal" or "social" trails.

In addition, it is illegal to clear trails on State land that are not designated by DEC. This includes cutting trees and vegetation. The process DEC follows when designating a trail includes proposal in a management plan, review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and a public comment period. The clearing or maintaining of informal trails for convenient access from adjacent private property, or based upon one person's desire to have a trail in a given location, circumvents this process and the environmental protections it provides.

The Otter Creek Trails provide extensive riding opportunities in a wild forest setting and DEC continues to work to improve the designated trail system. With riders' cooperation, these trails will provide enjoyment for generations of riders to come.

For questions regarding the Otter Creek Horse Trails, please contact the DEC office in Lowville at (315) 376-3521.

New Yorkers are encouraged to Love Our New York Lands all year by practicing Leave No TraceTM principles and by recreating safely, sustainably, and hiking in suitable conditions based on weather and experience level.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Nance Arquiett
    317 Washington Street
    Watertown, NY 13601
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to Region 6