Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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New York Woods & Waters – Batten Kill and Goose Egg state forests, Washington County

Doubling up on turkeys, trout in scenic valley


By Dan Ladd



The Batten Kill River in southern Washington County remains one of New York’s prime trout waters. The picturesque valley lies just west of the Vermont border and is known for its covered bridges as well as its trout.


But there’s also plenty of public land nearby that is available to spring turkey hunters as well as deer, bear, and small game hunting during the fall hunting seasons.


For those who plan to hunt first and fish second, the 535-acre Batten Kill State Forest and 436-acre Goose Egg State Forest offer nearly 1,000 acres of woodlands. And just a few miles to the west lies the Eldridge Swamp State Forest, which adds another 515 acres of huntable woodlands to the mix on both sides of Route 313. 


The spring turkey hunter will have their work cut out for them in the Batten Kill and Goose Egg tracts. Both feature fairly steep terrain. The popular Folded Rock hiking trail, which is the main artery into the Batten Kill tract, leads 2.5 miles to an overlook at Peaked Rock. The trail not only divides the tract, but gives the turkey hunter access to a vast woodland that when combined with the nearby agricultural lands offers a variety of habitat options for turkeys.


But you can’t talk about the Batten Kill region without getting on the subject of fishing. Particularly trout fishing, for both brown and brook trout. 


Like so many waters this year, the Batten Kill also has been affected by the discovery of zebra mussels at the Rome Fish Hatchery. While liberal stocking of browns is taking place, the main fallout from the hatchery debacle is that 2-year-old browns will not be stocked in the no-kill section of the river, which is that which lies east of the Eagleville covered bridge all the way to the Vermont state line. 


Brook trout anglers are seeing improvements on the river, including in this section. 


“They do well in the small tributaries of the Batten Kill,” said DEC Fisheries Biologist Jim Pinheiro of brook trout. “And they do very well in the upper portions of the river in Vermont. So, it’s kind of a secondary fishery in our portion of the Batten Kill, but there are some anglers who target them and they do well.” 


“We’ve had some habitat improvement projects that have supplied solid habitat for the brook trout,” said Pinheiro. “DEC has partnered with Trout Unlimited and the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance. Those projects are really making a difference in the quality of that upper section. Things are only going to improve.” 


Miles of Public Fishing Rights follow the shores of the Batten Kill from the Vermont line to East Greenwhich. But the Batten Kill State Forest wraps around the iconic Eagleville covered bridge, which divides two distinctive sections of the river. 


The no-kill section features year-round catch-and-release fishing, and only artificial lures are allowed. West of the bridge lies about a four-mile stretch that features both wild and stocked trout. 


The Batten Kill is a very popular float-water among anglers and non-anglers alike. Warm summer and also spring days will find kayakers and even tubers floating the river, sometimes irking anglers.


But a canoe, kayak, or even a float-boat, can be the angler’s friend, providing easy access and the opportunity to stop and fish wherever one desires. 


Boat or not, anglers regularly use access points, of which there are a handful from the state line west along the river, including at the Eagleville bridge.


One note to boaters: be careful near what is known as the oxbow, a sharp bend where the river abruptly turns north. 


“That oxbow had erosion occur last year and that big oxbow got cut off and it caused a really large strainer there,” said Pinheiro. “The river has changed course dramatically. Now it’s a 90-degree turn. I’d say experienced paddlers can navigate it under low flows, but under high flows it will be challenging for anybody.” 


DEC intends to stock over 19,000 brown trout this spring in the Batten Kill. Most are between 8 and 9 inches but nearly 2,500 2-year-olds ranging between 12 and 15 inches will be stocked at two different locations, excluding the no-kill section. 

Trout fishing regulations

Batten Kill River: Trout – open April 1-Oct. 15, any size, daily limit five per person with no more than two longer than 12 inches.


Also, note that the section from the Vermont state line to the covered bridge at Eagleville is open year-round for catch-and-release fishing. Only artificial lures can be used here.

Getting there

The Batten Kill and Goose Egg state forests are located in southern Washington County, northeast of the village of Cambridge and west of the Vermont state line. 

Fishing access points and the Folded Rock trailhead in the Batten Kill State Forest are accessed from Route 313. Access to the Goose Egg State Forest is off Bates Road, also outside of Cambridge.

Batten Kill River

Nearest towns: Jackson and White Creek

Fish species present: Brown trout, brook trout

For information:

NYS DEC Region 5 Office,
232 Golf Course Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885


Batten Kill Watershed Alliance
PO Box 734
Arlington, VT 05250

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