Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Hours of Operation
Visitor Center: Mon - Fri: 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Trails, overlooks, and fishing areas are open from sunrise to sunset year-round. Note, during winter months trails are not cleared of snow.
New York State's largest wildlife refuge! Filled with well-maintained trails and offering a large number of classes, the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge is a haven for animals. It sits in the migratory path of many birds, such as swans and geese. Open all year for a variety of activities including hunting, fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Visit their website for more information on programs and special events.
Four Seasons of Fun
Described as “one of the best kept secrets in Western New York”, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge has a state-of-the-art visitor center and over 10,000 acres to explore. Crisscrossed by public trails, it provides easy access to viewing areas and scenic stops. It is one of over 540 National Wildlife Refuges in the United States managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge system is the only network of federal lands dedicated specifically to wildlife conservation.
The Visitor Center
When you visit the Center you’ll get a quick snapshot of what the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Refuge is all about and all there is to see and do. Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by a flock of birds in flight and below by footsteps, both animal and man. Each exhibit represents part of the Refuge: upland forest, forested wetlands and emergent marshes. Other displays include interactive stations where visitors can control a camera aimed at a habitat on the refuge, scanning marsh to find wildlife and more. Don’t forget to browse the gift shop area before you leave!
Swallow Hollow Nature Trail
The Swallow Hollow Nature Trail, located on Knowlesville Road inside Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is a fun, little adventure for nature lovers. The 1.3 mile trail is a virtual biology field trip offering an incredible variety of wildlife and natural environments. This is not only an enjoyable trail for some exercise, but has many opportunities to learn about animals and trees that inhabit the refuge. The trails education mission recently took another step with the addition of an Audio Tour which enhances the visitor's experience. There are several audio tour signs along the way that help you get facts or answers about certain aspects of the trail. Each audio session is about minute-long and provides interesting information about where you are standing. A combination of the audio and visual is a strong learning tool. On a recent visit, this blogger learned that you walk through three different habitats along the trail: forested wetlands, upland hardwood forest and the emerging marsh. In addition to the audio tour, the trail features many educational signs that shed insight on the nature that surrounds you.
Another great bonus is that the Swallow Hollow Nature Trail is wheelchair accessible, with one half of the trail located on a boardwalk, and another half of the trail smooth cinder walkway. If you still have a thirst for knowledge after your nature walk, go over to the nearby Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge Interpretative Center for some fun learning opportunities.
WHAT TO DO
Birdwatchers can find their favorite species using the Bird Trail Tracker to find what birds have been sighted on the Refuge in the last 30 days, and where the best places to see them are. The Refuge is part of the Atlantic Flyway and its 10,828 acres are habitat for at least 266 bird species, including Bald Eagles! In the spring, one of the most impressive sights is the migration of tens of thousands of geese.
Over the years, bald eagles have established nest sites on the refuge. Eagles start nesting behavior in January and continue until eaglets fledge in July. Eagles stay on or near the refuge for most of the year, leaving only to find open water in winter or in times of drought. Eagles are likely to be observed flying above the refuge, especially from Cayuga and Ringneck Marsh Overlooks. Don't forget about our Eagle Watch each spring!
Hunting, Fishing, and More!
Enjoy the outdoors year-round with activities like hunting, fishing and canoeing. There are also educational activities like owl prowls, bird walks, fishing derbies, stargazing and more. The Refuge is home to over 42 species of mammals, plus reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects—so you’re sure to experience nature during your visit! In the winter months, grab some friends and cross country ski or snowshoe the trails—perfect for enthusiasts and beginners alike!
• Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing on Mohawk Ski Trail — open to sunrise to sunset.
• Trail is a self-guided 7.5 mile loop of Mohawk Pool.
• Free, bring your own snowshoes and skis
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