Visitor Activities

  • Hunting


    Visitors can participate in hunting big and small game, waterfowl and other migratory birds. Both state and federal regulations apply and not all areas of the refuge are open to hunting. The refuge provides accessible hunting stands for both our waterfowl hunts and deer hunting.

    The refuge offers two youth only hunt programs - the Young Waterfowlers Program and the Youth Turkey Hunt. Both programs are open to junior hunters (12-15 years of age) in the State of New York.

    The refuge is currently reviewing our hunt program and some information on this site is subject to change. Please check back periodically to make sure you are in compliance with the most recent rules and regulations.

    The refuge specific hunt permit requirements for deer and upland small game/other migratory bird hunting have been suspended. Although possession of a refuge permit is not required, hunters are still required to know and follow all refuge specific regulations, which can be found in the appropriate hunt fact sheet, available on this site.

    - Waterfowl Hunting 
    - Deer Hunting
    - Turkey Hunting
    - Upland Small Game & Other Migratory Birds
    - Trapping

  • Fishing


    The refuge is open to fishing year round in Ringneck Marsh and Oak Orchard Creek, all state regulations apply. Ice fishing is allowed (conditions permitting) December 1st through the end of February on Ringneck Marsh. Anglers predominantely hook northern pike, bass, bullhead, yellow perch and crappie. Canoes are allowed on Oak Orchard Creek only from Knowlesville Road to Highway 63.

    A Youth Fishing Derby is held the first Saturday in June for children 17 years old and under. The derby includes fishing, education programs, activities and prizes.

    Download the sport fishing factsheet (pdf)

  • Wildlife Observation

    Wildlife Viewing

    The refuge maintains four overlooks and five trails for opportunities to observe wildlife. They include: Cayuga Marsh Overlook, Ringneck Marsh Overlook, Mallard Overlook, Schoolhouse Marsh Overlook, Kanyoo Nature Trail, Onondaga Nature Trail, Swallow Hollow Nature Trail, Feeder Road and Mohawk Ski Trail.

    On the trails, you will discover the diversity of wildlife and the habitats they depend on through the different landscapes including vernal pools, emergent marshes, shrublands, upland forests, forested wetlands and grasslands.

    Refuge staff, volunteers and partners provide viewing opportunities through bird walks, owl prowls, canoe tours, and woodcock walks.

    Download the Wildlife Observation Fact Sheet (pdf)


  • Photography


    The refuge has two photo blinds that are available under a reservation system. One is located on Mohawk Pool and the other one is at Ringneck Marsh. Contact refuge staff to reserve the photo blinds.

    Summer months on the refuge are often quieter than spring and fall, although several waterbirds do stay and breed on the refuge, including rails, moorhens and coots. Red-tailed hawks, American tree sparrows, and American goldfinches are some of the most common winter birds. Bald eagles begin working on their nests in January or February and typically lay their eggs in late February. Eggs hatch in April, and the young will often leave the nest in June or July, but will remain in the area until the fall. Also during this time of year, great egrets use the marshes around the refuge as a staging area.

  • Canoeing


    Explore the primitive beauty of Oak Orchard Creek. Canoes, kayaks or fishing boats without motors may access Oak Orchard Creek between Knowlesville Road and Route 63 (approximatley 5.5 miles). Watch for obstructions including beaver dams.

  • Cross-Country Skiing

    The Mohawk Ski Trail begins and ends at the Visitor Contact Station on Casey Road. This ungroomed and mostly flat 7.5 mile loop goes though woods, fields and around marshes affording skiers the opportunity to enjoy a variety of habitats characteristic of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. The trail merges with a section of the Kanyoo Nature Trail and the Feeder Road as it circles Mohawk Pool. Mohawk Ski Trail opens when conditions permit and closes March 1, when nesting season begins, to provide undisturbed nesting and resting areas for wildlife. 


  • Interpretation


    The refuge staff, volunteers and partners conduct interpretation programs and activities to inform and remind our visitors about issues and opportunities including bird migration, seasonal habitat changes, invasive species, management activities and special events.

    The refuge partners with several organizations to be able to provide opportunities like these:

    Spring Into Nature: Our annual celebration to welcome spring back to the swamps. Generally held the last Saturday in April, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.

    Youth Fishing Derby: Held the first Saturday in June. Open to children age 17 and under. No pre-registration required.

    Iroquois Observations: Year round free nature programs including: bald eagle watch, guided nature walks, guest speakers, and more. 

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    Environmental education is conducted to assist youths and adults with becoming more environmentally aware. Environmental education is provided primarily to elementary and middle school students to augment classroom studies. The refuge can provide educational material as well as an outdoor laboratory to augment the teachers existing curriculum and tie into New York State learning standards.

    Refuge staff and volunteers can be scheduled to provide guided programs for youth or school groups. Or youth can participate in the Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation Program. This program includes a guided walk to explore Swallow Hollow Nature Trail which will include field-based exercises followed by conservation games.

    Learn more about field trip opportunities on the refuge.