Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, which protects 597 acres in Ulster County, NY, was established in July 1999 to support grassland-dependent migratory birds and wintering raptors. With views of the majestic Shawangunk Ridge, the refuge is among a dwindling number of sites in New York State (one of only two sites in the Hudson Valley) large enough to support the entire assemblage of northeastern grassland birds. The refuge has been identified as a Biodiversity Focus Area and an Important Bird Area (Audubon New York), a designation given only to places that support significant abundance and diversity of birds. Many of the birds found on the refuge are included on lists of endangered, threatened, special concern or priority species, including the Short-eared Owl, Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Henslow’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Horned Lark, and Bobolink.
Shawangunk Grasslands Trail Map 1DecThru31March 2023
Shawangunk Grasslands NWR Trail Map December 1st, 2023 - March 31st, 2024

The Shawangunk Grasslands NWR trail system is modified from the time period of December 1st, 2023 through March 31st, 2024 to allow visitors to view wildlife while protecting the grassland habitat and minimizing disturbances to short-eared owls and other wildlife. Visitors are asked to please respect the trail closures as marked on this map. 

Visit Us

At Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, a total of 3.6 miles of trails are available and open to visitors. Two interconnected loop trails wind through the refuge’s open grasslands with impressive views of the Shawangunk Ridge. Two kiosks at the main entrance provide general information and orientation. Five wildlife observation / photography blinds are located along the trails.

  • The refuge and its trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset.
  • The public restroom is open but there are no potable water sources. Please plan accordingly.
  • This is a natural area. Pets are not allowed, but service dogs are welcome.
  • Beware of poison ivy, ticks, and other biting insects.
  • The trails are unimproved and of minimal difficulty, though they may be seasonally wet. Please stay on maintained trails.
  • All plants and animals, parts thereof, and other objects of nature are protected from disturbance. Collection is prohibited.
  • Observe wildlife from a safe and respectful distance. Binoculars and spotting scopes allow you to view wildlife closely without disturbing them. 
  • Please do not feed wildlife; it may make them unnaturally dependent on humans and more susceptible to disease.

Directions

From Interstate 84 (New York State), take exit #5. Take State Rt. 208 North until you enter Village of Walden. At the stop light, turn right, continuing north on State Rt. 208 to the Hamlet of Wallkill in Ulster County. At the stop sign, turn left on Wallkill Avenue. Travel for 0.2 mile and turn left on Bruyn Turnpike / County Rt. 18 (Post Office on corner). At the stop sign, continue straight on Bruyn Turnpike. Travel for 1.4 miles and turn right on Hoagerburgh Road. Travel for 1.5 miles, passing Blue Chip Farm, and turn right into Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge.

Staff are located at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Sussex, NJ and may be reached by phone from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 973-702-7266. General e-mail inquiries may be directed to jared_green@fws.gov

Location and Contact Information

      wildland-firefighter-oversees-the-prescribed-fire-at-wallkill-river-nwr-7april2021_credit-scott-lenhart-usfws
      Prescribed Fire Notification for Shawangunk Grasslands NWR

      The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service wishes to inform the surrounding communities that we will be conducting a controlled burn on warm season grasslands at Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge in Ulster County, NY. The proposed burn units at Shawangunk Grasslands NWR total around 200 acres.  Grasses will regenerate quickly following the prescribed burn prescribed burn
      A prescribed burn is the controlled use of fire to restore wildlife habitat, reduce wildfire risk, or achieve other habitat management goals. We have been using prescribed burn techniques to improve species habitat since the 1930s.

      Learn more about prescribed burn
      , ensuring that this area continues to provide valuable foraging and nesting habitat for State-listed grassland birds, foraging raptors, song birds and other grassland birds.

      The actual dates for the prescribed burns will depend on favorable weather conditions, including relative humidity, fuel moisture, and wind speed and direction to achieve the desired objectives and for the smoke to rise and disperse as well as the availability of firefighters. Each prescribed burn is expected to be completed within one day with active burning over several hours. Smoke may be visible from a distance and trails may be temporarily closed while burning is underway.

      About Us

      Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, which protects 597 acres in Ulster County, NY, was established in July 1999 to support grassland-dependent migratory birds and wintering raptors. With views of the majestic Shawangunk Ridge, the refuge is among a dwindling number of sites in New York State (one of only two sites in the Hudson Valley) large enough to support the entire assemblage of northeastern grassland birds. The refuge has been identified as a Biodiversity Focus Area and an Important Bird Area (Audubon New York), a designation given only to places that support significant abundance and diversity of birds. Many of the birds found on the refuge are included on lists of endangered, threatened, special concern or priority species, including the Short-eared Owl, Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Henslow’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Horned Lark, and Bobolink. 

      What We Do

      Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which 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
      is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.   

      Our Organization

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. We are the only agency in the federal government whose primary responsibility is the conservation and management of these important natural resources for the American public.

      A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.

      Our Species

      Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge was established to support grassland-dependent migratory birds and wintering raptors. The refuge has been identified as a Biodiversity Focus Area and an Important Bird Area (Audubon New York), a designation given only to places that support significant abundance and diversity of birds. Many of the birds found on the refuge are included on lists of endangered, threatened, special concern or priority species, including the Short-eared Owl, Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Henslow’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink.

      Short-eared Owl. Asio flammeus

      The short-eared owl is an owl of about 0.7 to 0.8 lbs with females slightly larger in size than males. Plumage is brown, buff, white and rust colors. Patches of brown and buff occur mostly on the back side, while the underside is colored more lightly, being mostly white. Females and males have...

      FWS Focus
      The Upland Sandpiper is a medium-sized shorebird of about 28-32 cm in length. Some distinguishing features of the Upland Sandpiper include its dove-like head, thin neck, long thin legs, camouflage olive-brown coloring, and yellow bill with a black tip. The under parts of the Upland Sandpiper are...
      FWS Focus

      Get Involved

      Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community and fish and wildlife by doing what you love. 
       
      National wildlife refuges partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents of urban and coastal communities to make a lasting difference. 
       
      Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying. 
       
      Volunteers: Gain new experiences and meet new people while helping to advance wildlife conservation. 
       
      Friends: Join neighbors in helping refuges restore habitat and expand access to green space. 
      Landowners: Learn how you can partner with the Fish and Wildlife Service to voluntarily restore land. 

      Local Groups: 
      Find out how communities can work with refuges better for wildlife and people.  
       
      Youth: Explore paid and unpaid opportunities to learn and develop leadership skills.

      Projects and Research

      Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge was established to support grassland-dependent migratory birds and wintering raptors. The refuge has been identified as a Biodiversity Focus Area and an Important Bird Area (Audubon New York), a designation given only to places that support significant abundance and diversity of birds. The grassland ecosystem that supports grassland-dependent migratory birds and wintering raptors is maintained through a variety of means, including the use of prescribed fire, mowing, and invasive flora removal.