Laws and Regulations

Open Hours

The refuge is open from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Wildlife Drive and Walking Trails

The Wildlife Drive is open from April 1 (weather-permitting) through November.  Walking on the Wildlife Drive is limited to May 25 through August 15 (pedestrian use/skiing/snow shoeing are not permitted when the Drive is closed).  Otherwise, you must remain in your vehicle until you reach designated viewing spots (marked with binocular sign). You must stay on the road/trail; do not walk on dikes, in the water, etc. Parking/leaving a parked vehicle along the Wildlife Drive is prohibited.  Parking is available at the refuge headquarters/visitor center area.

Outdoor facilities (trails, observation areas) –open ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset; Esker Brook and South Spring Pool trails are closed annually November 1 – January 1; Seneca Trail is closed mid-December through January 1.


Dog-walking is allowed around the refuge headquarters and visitor center areas, as well as on the Seneca Trail. Dog-walking is prohibited along the Esker Brook and South Spring Pool Trails. Pets must be kept on the leash and under their owner’s control at all times. If you have dog in your vehicle while you are on the Wildlife Drive, your dog must remain in the vehicle.

Bicycling and Other Modes of Transportation/Recreation

Bicycles are only permitted on the Wildlife Drive from May 25 - August 15 and are not permitted on the hiking trails.

Jogging/Running is not permitted anywhere on the refuge.

Horseback riding is not permitted.

No off-road vehicles (ATV’s, dirt bikes, etc.) are allowed on refuge property.


Fishing is allowed from the fishing access area only. Fishing is not permitted in the refuge pools.


Boating in the refuge pools is not permitted. Boating is limited to surrounding public waterways, including but not limited to the Cayuga-Seneca Barge Canal, the Seneca River, and Cayuga Lake.


Hunting regulations are very specific for the refuge. Please visit our Visit Us/Activities/Hunting page and New York Department of Environmental Conservation websites or call for information. It is the hunter’s responsibility to be legally permitted on refuge areas open to hunting.

Drone use on national wildlife refuges is prohibited according to our Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50:

§ 27.34 Aircraft.

The unauthorized operation of aircraft, including sail planes, and hang gliders, at altitudes resulting in harassment of wildlife, or the unauthorized landing or take-off on a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
, except in an emergency, is prohibited. National wildlife refuge boundaries are designated on update FAA aeronautical charts.