115 Old Forge Rd.
Tuxedo, New York 10987
Phone: (845) 351-5907
Fax: (845) 351-5920
Sterling Forest® State Park was acquired in 1998 to provide clear drinking water by preserving valuable watershed lands. The 17,988 acre park is part of the Hudson Highlands and contains over 50 ecological communities with an abundant variety of plants and animals. There are over 80 species of butterflies in the park. It is a stop in the Atlantic flyway for migratory birds and is a critical ecological link in the greenbelt extending from the Housatanic River in Connecticut through the Hudson and New Jersey Highlands to the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The park includes a historic iron furnace that played a part in the Revolutionary War and is traversed by the Appalachian Trail.
Walks and talks led by park educators and rangers are available for the general public. Educational programs for school groups and other organizations can be arranged by appointment.
Sterling Forest® State Park is open daily from dawn to dusk. The Information Center operates seven days a week, from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. For more information, call (845) 351-5907.
Sterling Forest® State Park has a rich cultural history. Before the European colonists arrived in the late 1700s, the land was inhabited by various Native American tribes including the Lenni Lenapes, the Munsees, the Iroquois, and the Ramapos. The name Sterling comes from the Fifth Earl of Stirling, a Scottish lord whose family purchased the land from the Iroquois in 1702.
In the early 1700s, outcroppings of iron were found in the Hudson Highlands. These discoveries sparked a mining industry that would span more than 175 years. In the latter half of the 1800s, the Sterling Mountain Railway was built to carry ore and passengers along eight miles of winding mountain track between Sterling Lake and Sterlington, a town just south of present day Sloatsburg. In the 1920s, iron mining stopped in the region which also brought an end to the Sterling Mountain Railway.
Just 35 miles northwest of New York City, the park is one of the largest unfragmented forests in the region and is an important watershed for both New York and New Jersey. In New York's newest state park there are several different habitats including hardwood forests and wetlands. The goal of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission is to preserve these natural resources while at the same time providing appropriate public recreation.
There are approximately 810 species of trees, shrubs, and herbs in the park.
Of these, 40 species had not been previously found in Palisades Interstate
Park Commission parks and 20 species are currently listed as endangered or
threatened by the New York Natural Heritage Program. Approximately 125 species
of birds have been sighted within the park's boundaries. Waterfowl, raptors,
and songbirds stopover during migration and many use the area as their wintering
and breeding grounds. The Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, and Eastern Bluebird have been listed by New York State as endangered,
threatened, or of special concern. Other species of note are Golden-winged
Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, and Scarlet Tanagers.
There are 30 DEC-listed wetlands all of which play an important role in the ecological community and are essential to the resident flora and fauna. Four major wetland complexes that provide resources for wildlife are: Spruce Swamp/McKeags Meadow, Pine Meadow, Little Cedar Pond, and Little Dam Lake. Within these wetlands live beavers, otters, muskrats, turtles, snakes, amphibians, and waterfowl.
Sterling Forest® State Park has a variety of hiking opportunities, most offering scenic vistas of forested hills and valleys. Pristine lakes dot the landscape and reward the viewer with many chances to see wildlife. In addition, the observant hiker will see old foundations and rock walls, evidence of days gone by. Trail ratings range from easy to somewhat difficult. Hiking is only allowed on marked trails; bushwhacking is prohibited. Always let someone know your planned route and time of return.
There are no potable water sources on the trails so hikers are advised to bring their own water. Suggested items to include in day packs in addition to water are a compass, trail map, rain gear, extra shirt and socks, food/snacks; flashlight, matches, pocketknife, insect repellent, and first aid kit. Clothing should be appropriate for the weather.
During the hunting seasons (October through February and again in May) hikers and hunters should wear bright-colored clothing such as blaze orange. Snakes, bees, insects, ticks, and poison ivy are common. Take appropriate measures to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Old iron mines and caves are visible from the trails. All are dangerous and closed to the public.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on designated trails, Sterling Forest® State Park is a "Carry In - Carry Out State Park." Whatever is carried in must be carried out - not buried or burned. Fires are prohibited. Remember leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures.
Sterling Forest® is a registered trademark of Sterling Forest L.L.C.
Hunting has traditionally been allowed on Sterling Forest® lands. Ample numbers of deer, beat, turkey, squirrel, and other small game inhabit the park. Hunters please be aware that the park is used for a variety of recreational activities and that private residences and property border the park.
Those wishing to hunt in the park will need valid NY hunting licenses and permits as well as a hunting permit issued by the park. Call the park for details.
Hunting is not permitted in the 1,400-acre Doris Duke Wildlife Sanctuary located in the northern end of the park or within the boundaries of the Appalachian Trail Corridor.
With many freshwater, lakes and streams, the park offers a variety of recreational activities. All lakes within the park have been dammed, resulting in a greater depth and a larger surface area which can support a variety of fish populations (except Cedar Pond which is a natural kettlehole). There are seven lakes within park boundaries: Sterling Lake, Blue Lake, Little Sterling Lake, Little Dam Lake, Cedar Pond, Eagle Lake, and Laurel Meadow Ponds. All park rules and regulations apply to these lakes.
Boating is allowed on the interior park lakes by permit only. Permits can be purchased at our Information Center or at the Park Office at Lake Tiorati in Harriman State Park. Blue Lake has the only boat launch in the park. Boating is not permitted on Little Sterling Lake, Cedar Pond or Sterling Lake because there is no public access. The remaining lakes are portage, meaning boats must be carried in and carried out. No gas motors or gas tanks are allowed on boats (whether in use or not).
Anglers may use park waters during daylight hours only? All NY DEC laws apply. Ice fishing (hand augers only) is allowed when conditions permit. Species common to all of the lakes are pickerel, perch, sunfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass. Trout can be caught in Blue Lake and from the shore in Sterling Lake and Little Sterling Lake. Blue Lake also sports bullheads and walleye. Eagle Lake has crappies and Greenwood Lake has muskellunge and walleye. In past years, lakes have been stocked and plans are to continue this practice.
Greenwood Lake borders park land. All park rules and regulations apply when fishing from the park's shoreline. Gas motors are allowed on Greenwood Lake and park boating permits are not required. Private boat launch facilities are available.
Copperheads and timber rattlesnakes are found in the park and are venomous. If a snake is encountered, leave it alone. Timber rattlesnakes are a threatened species in New York State and it is illegal to kill, harm, harass, or collect them. The bite of a rattlesnake can be serious but is rarely fatal. If bitten by a snake, contact the park police and seek medical attention immediately.
Black bears inhabit the park. If you encounter a bear, please remember, they are wild animals. Never approach, feed, or harass a black bear.
Deer ticks carry Lyme Disease. One should take the following precautions: wear light colored clothing, tuck shirt into pants and pants into socks. Be sure to check for ticks at the end of a hike.
Rabies may be carried by animals. Do not feed, attract, touch or harass wildlife. If you encounter a sick, injured, or strangely acting animal, stay away from it. Report any contact with, or sighting of, a potentially rabid animal to a park employee as soon as possible.
PARTIAL LIST OF REGULATIONS
ALCOHOL, drugs, traps, snares, fireworks, and explosives are prohibited. Bows, arrows, and firearms may be used for hunting by permit. Axes, chain saws, and other cutting tools may be used for wood gathering by permit.
REMOVING, damaging, or destroying any artifacts, trees (except with a wood permit), shrubs, flowers, and wildlife (except while hunting) is prohibited Visitors should not feed or touch any wildlife and follow recommended procedures for avoiding poison ivy, ticks, snakes, and bears.
DEFACING, destroying, or otherwise altering Park property is prohibited. Littering is Prohibited. No permanent markings may be made to any tree, rock, trail, road, or structure.
PETS, properly leashed at all times, may be taken on the trails.
PERMITS must be obtained in advance from the Information Center for boating, hunting, buses, outings involving 25 or more people; commercial photography or filming, wood gathering, and educational research. If in doubt about an activity, please call.
PARKING is allowed in designated areas. Any gates, wood roads, fire
lanes, etc. must remain clear of vehicles.
SWIMMING is only allowed at the beach on Greenwood Lake. It is open to the public during the summer months and is managed by the Town of Warwick. Swimming fees are collected. Otherwise, no swimming is allowed in the park.
CAMPING, MOUNTAIN BIKING, HORSEBACK RIDING, ROCK CLIMBING, ICE SKATING,
SNOWMOBILING, METAL DETECTING, FIRES, and ATVs are not permitted
at this time.