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Black Rock Forest

The Black Rock Forest is a 3750 acre preserve dedicated to scientific research, education, and conservation of the natural ecosystem that once covered this entire region. Located in the Hudson Highlands on the west bank of the Hudson River, 50 miles north of NYC, the area is home to numerous ponds, wetlands, and great biological diversity.

Despite the area's rich cultural history, the land remains relatively pristine due to the foresight of Dr. Ernest Stillman, who established it as a research and demonstration forest early in the 20th century. The Black Rock Forest was acquired by the not-for-profit Black Rock Forest Preserve in 1989, which set the region aside as a natural area for perpetuity.

The forest is administered and used as a field station by the Black Rock Forest Consortium, comprised of private and public educational and research institutions. The Consortium provides a center for research and teaching at all levels and an information network linking students, researchers, teachers, administrators, and institutions.

The forest is cross by many well maintained trails and old roads ideal for day hiking and is generally open to the public for their enjoyment. However, please remember that this is privately owned and conserved lands and obey all of the rules that are posted. Some of the most spectacular views can be had from atop the peaks in the forest, so enjoy your day and observe the rules.

The forest is closed to hikers during deer season, from mid-November to mid-December as it is open for hunting to members of a local hunt club. Considering ignoring this period when the forest is closed is extremely dangerous!

Most of the access points into the forest are located on Route 9W as it hugs the eastern edge of the forest. However, on Route 32 north of Woodbury there is a single access point, relatively well marked, where you can park and take to the trails.

The landscape around the forest is comprised of a mosaic of Mixed Northeastern Deciduous Forest, as well as human dominated areas such as current and fomer farm lands. There is a diffuse network of backcountry single lane dirt roads running through the forest as well as many suburban two lane paved roads. These offer excellent routes and views for hikes, runs, and mountain bike riding. There are seven lakes and reservoirs within the forest surrounded by many beautiful mountains and hills with great views. Each of these lakes eventually feeds into streams that merge into the majestic Hudson River.

The Black Rock Forest Usage Policies

The forest is open to the public year-round, daylight hours only, for recreational pursuits such as hiking. However, it may be closed during periods of fire danger, deer hunting, and other times as posted. The following usage policies are enforced at all times.

  1. No motor vehicles of any kind (including motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATV's) are allowed in the forest without a permit. The Forest director and Forest Manager are the only persons authorized to grant permission to drive on the roads.
  2. Bike riding in the Black Rock Forest is limited to members of the Black Rock Mountain Bike Club, and is allowed only on forest roads. For information call 845-534-2966.
  3. All ponds and connecting streams (with the exception of Sutherland Pond and Mineral Spring Brook) are part of the water supply for Cornwall and Highland Falls. State and local laws prohibit public use of these waters in any form, i.e. swimming, bathing, boating, fishing, etc.
  4. No open fires are allowed at any time.
  5. Camping and overnight stays by the public are not permitted.
  6. Hunting and fishing privileges are restricted to members of the Black Rock Forest Fish and Game Club. Hunting is further limited to State of New York deer season in compliance with New York State DEC rules and regulations. Any carrying or usage of firearms by permit only.
  7. All forest contents are (e.g. wild plant and animal materials, rock, soils, etc.) are the property of the preserve and may not be collected without prior written permission of the Forest Director or Forest Manager.
  8. Dogs are permitted in the forest only if kept on a leash and under control at all times.
  9. Please stay on forest trails at all times to minimize impact.
  10. Do not disturb scientific and educational equipment and materials in the forest; violators will be prosecuted.
  11. Scientific and educational use of the forest is limited to members of the Black Rock Forest Consortium; if interested please contact the Forest Director.
  12. All organized groups (hiking, birding groups, etc.) must register with the forest office prior to visiting.


A variety of natural hazards are indigenous to the forest. Travel trails at your own risk as the management does not claim that these are free from potential hazards. Be especially aware of loose rocks and steep slopes. Snakes and other forest animals can be dangerous and/or act violently if approached. Some wildlife, such as ticks and raccoons, may carry diseases such as lyme disease or rabies. Use Caution. Some plants, such as poison ivy, may be harmful if contacted. Do not consume surface or spring water or any plant or animal materials as they may be harmful to your health. Be particularly alert for vehicles,bikes, etc., when traveling in the forest. Bad weather can occur unexpectedly; be advised no shelter is available in the forest.


Forest visitors are not charged for access, but the consortium is dependent on voluntary contributions to cover a portion of the cost of maintaining the forest. Suggested donations are $2 for adult and $1 per child, per visit. Be more generous if you can. Suggested map donation is $1 to help defer some of the accrued printing cost. Please consider supporting our efforts to keep Black Rock clean and beautiful and provide broad educational benefits by contributing to our friends of Black Rock campaign. Details about Friends of Black Rock Forest are available at the Center for Science and Education and on the Information Board near the forest entrance.

Other Notes

During visits you may encounter members of the Black Rock Forest Patrol. These are volunteers from the local community here to watch for any problems in the forest. Please contact them if you need assistance and treat them courteously. We thank the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference for maintaining the following trails: Scenic, Stillman, Sackett, Duggan, Chatfield, Secor, Ledge, Ryerson, Stropel, Split Rock and the two short side trails to Spy Rock and Eagle Cliff.

Specifics on visiting the Black Rock Forest were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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