7,141 acre Bear Spring Mountain Wildlife Management Area is located in the transition zone between dairy country and the western Catskill Mountains. The landscape shares features of both the Catskill High Peaks and the surrounding Northern Allegheny Plateau. The area is dominated by two ridges which delineate narrow V-shaped valleys. To the east is Trout Brook Mountain (2,470 ft.), to the west is Fork Mountain Ridge (2,481 ft.).
The area is almost entirely forested by a second growth mixed hardwood forest consisting mainly of red oak, red and sugar maple, beech, birch, ash and black cherry. Scattered stands of pine and spruce add evergreen contrast to the brilliant maple reds in the fall. The terrain, characterized by rugged mountains, rolling hills, glacial till and exposed rock outcrops provide a challenging mountain biking experience.
East Trout Brook and West Trout Brook cut through the area. East Brook flows from the north into Launt Pond and travels past the Spruce Brook camping area before meeting up with West Trout Brook to the south. There are 26 ponds scattered throughout the area. The three largest are Russ Gray, Bear Cub and the beautiful 11 acre Launt Pond area is a popular outdoor recreation destination.
In 2010, 100 apple trees were planted in small orchards throughout Bear Spring Mountain WMA to promote a more diverse wildlife habitat. Apple trees also have historical significance for the area. Bring along your binoculars for birdwatching and your camera to capture wildlife in their natural habitat.
Picnic area with tables, grills, volleyball and pavilion rental; boat launch; sand beach; water spigots; firewood sales; ampitheater.
A paved administrative loop road provides access for persons with disabilities to the accessible fishing pier, day-use area and campsite.
There are two campgrounds areas:Two campsites are universally accessible. Launt Pond Area and Spruce Grove Area. Together they contain a total of 41 tent and trailer sites. Both lie in the bottom of a valley. These are the only public campground surrounded by a Wildlife Management Area.
Spruce Grove is the only campground in New York designed specifically for horses and horse trailers. It features Horse Tie Stalls, Accessible Horse Ramps and other amenities for camping with horses. East Trout Brook runs along the east side of the campground.
The Launt Pond is the focal point of the Launt Pond Camping area and features a swimming beach, bath house with restrooms and hot showers.
Launt Pond Area:, Canoe, kayak, rowboat and paddleboat rentals.
Bear Spring Mountain WMA Mountain Bike Trails
About 26 miles of well-marked multi-use trails travel adjacent to the wildlife management area along the two ridges. Over 17 miles of marked snowmobile trails provide a challenging mountain biking experience. You will encounter everything from rolling terrain with gradual hill climbs and steep rocky steep sections to more level wide grassy doubletrack lanes. During the summer, these grassy sections can get overgrown.
Maps are posted at the trailheads and indicate the rating of each trail. However, the maps do not list trail distances and signs indicating mileage are few and far between.
In a clearing along the Middle Pond Shortcut, notice the ruins of an old farm. The "Box of Rocks" Trail is extremely rocky as it's name suggests. The Fork Mountain trail during autumn offers beautiful views westward after the leaves blanket the ground.
McMoy Hill Spur Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Red Blaze: 0.7 miles
McCoy Hill Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Blue Blaze: 11.7 miles
Launt Pond Spur Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Red Blaze: 1.25 miles
Middle Pond Shortcut Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Yellow Blaze: 1.1 miles
Spruce Grove Spur Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Blue Blaze: 4 miles
"Box of Rocks" Endure Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Blue Blaze: 4.5 miles
Switchback Spur Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Blue Blaze: 2 miles
Fork Mountain Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Blue Blaze: 4.7 miles
The Fork Mountain Spur Trail is not shown on maps.
State Mill Trail w/ Spruce Grove Spur Trail and John Whalen Trail
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Blue Blaze: 13.85 miles
Bear Spring Mountain WMA Trail Connections
Finger Lakes Trail (FLT)
In the Catskill Park, the FLT (hiking only for the most part) connects at its eastern terminus with the Long Path, which runs from the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey to the Albany area. A section of the FLT travels through Downsville and bisects the Bear Spring Mountain WMA North / South.
Within the Bear Spring WMA, the FLT utlizes sections of the Bear Spring multi-use trail system.
Trail Highlights & Nearby Points Of Interest
Wildlife Watch & Photography
If you are into birdwatching and wildlife photography, you'll find that the Bear Spring Mountain WMA provides excellent opportunities for both. Several species of waterfowl and marshbirds can be observed in the spring and fall. Songbirds are numerous especially during migration periods
Wild turkey, ruffled grouse and woodcock are commonly seen. Their favorite habitat is among the apple orchards and fields.
Other Bear Spring WMA denizens include white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, red and gray fox, coyote, raccoon, skunk, mink and beaver.
Bikes & Waterfalls
Cooks Falls was an imortartant natural feature on the Beaverkill that enabled thousands of feet of timber to be rafted to the lower Delaware River markets.
GPS Coordinates: 41.9463889 -74.97972222222222 | 41°56'47", 74°58'47"
On left bank 125 ft downstream from bridge on Cooks Brook Road in Cooks Falls, and 5.5 mi downstream from Willowemoc Creek.
Bikes & Covered Bridges
Downsville Covered Bridge
Listed on the National Historic Register in 1999. The bridge was built in 1854. It is a single span, timber and plan framed bridge. At 174 feet (53 m), it is currently the longest historic covered bridge in the state. The Covered Bridge is open to only passenger cars and foot traffic and .... walk-a-bikers
GPS Coordinates: 42.0761111 | -74.9932998
East Branch of the Delaware River in the hamlet of Downsville, just south of the Pepacton Reservoir
Things To Do
County Fairs & Festivals
Delaware County Fair
The Delaware County Fair in Walton, NY is the largest agricultural fair in the region with an annual attendance of over 80,000 visitors. It lasts for 6 fun-packed days. The fair is usually held in August.
Website: Delaware County Fair
Bikes, Barges & Trains Excursions
The Delaware and Ulster Railroad excursion train combines rail ride nostalgia with scenic rides through New York's legendary Catskill Mountains.
See the Catskill Rail Trail for more information.
Historic Districts & Architecture Walking Tours
Gardiner Place Historic District
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district, located in Walton Village, NY on the east branch of the Delaware River contains three contributing buildings. They are the Village Hall, Ogden Free Library, and the separately listed U.S. Post Office.
The oldest of the three buildings is the circa 1896 William B. Ogden Free Library. The library is constructed of locally quarried bluestone.
Whitewater Recreation & Scenic Water Trails
Delaware River East Branch & Beaverkill
The East Branch of the Delaware River and it's tributary the Beaverkill are located just a few miles from the Bear Spring WMA. Both Rivers offer excellent whitewater recreation experiences.
Fishing Hot Spots
The nearby Beaverkill is a tributary of the East Branch of the Delaware River. The Beaverkill has long been celebrated as one of the most famous trout streams in the United States.
The two streams within the Bear Spring WMA contain brook and brown trout.
The Delaware River and Beaverkill River played an important part in the history, settlement and development of the area beginning with the Lenni-Lenape Indians and later, the hamlets of Walton, Colchester and Hancock in New York State.
Lenni-Lenape ("The (Original) People.")
The Lenni-Lenape (Delaware Indians) were a group of Algonquin-speaking Native Americans. Their territory historically covered a large area. They were not migratory and occupied their homeland for hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived. They lived in numerous small towns in what is now Eastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River Watershed, across the lower Hudson Valley and the lower Catskills. They used dugout canoes for transportation.They hunted, fished and were very successful at farming. They cultivated beans, squash, corn, sweet potatoes and tobacco.
They were among the first Native Americans to come in contact with the Dutch, English and Swedish settlers. By the 17th century, the Lenni-Lenape population had been greatly reduced by intertribal wars and epidemics. Pressure from Dutch land grant settlers and the expansion of the nascent American nation forced the tribal peoples westward.
Walton, Colchester and Hancock, New York
These small hamlets in New York were formed and / or incorporated towards the end of the 17th century and early 1800's. The towns are situated on mountainous upland, broken up by numerous narrow stream valleys. The East Branch of the Delaware River and the Beaverkill run through all of these towns, making them important transportation hub links. Lumber, bluestone, rafting, tanning, agriculture and milling; and later, tourism became major commercial enterprises along the rivers.
Early settlers also found the area good pasturage. A thriving dairy industry developed after the Civil War. The area is dotted with Swedish, Dutch and English barns. While the original wood barns have become exceedingly rare, the style has changed and Dairy Barns or basement barns are common throughout the area.
In the early days, the only transportation mode in both directions were stage coaches which carried mail and passengers between villages. The dawn of the Catskill Tourism Industry within the first decade of the 1900's, sparked the development of railroad lines. On November 17, 1906 the first railroad (later called the Delaware and Northern), pulled into the Downville, NY train depot. It created a link between the Ontario and Western Railroad at East Branch and the Western and Delaware at Arkville, NY. The railroads also drove the expansion of the dairy and bluestone industries and opened the area up socially which led to the development of new schools and opera houses.
Bear Spring Mountain is located in the western Catskills, 5 miles south of Walton, NY. From the south take Route 17 west to exit 90 (East Branch), take Route 30 north to Shinhopple, turn left on East Trout Brook road, 4-5 miles to Launt Pond Day Use Area and campground. From the north take Interstate 88 west to exit 20. Take Route 10 south to Walton. At Walton, take Route 206 east for 5.2 miles to East Trout Road. Turn right and travel about 1 mile to Launt Pond.
NY STATE DEC REGION 4
Website: Bear Spring WMA