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Hiking in Madison County
Charles E. Baker State Forest

Auto Tour


Although this is not technically a hike or hiking trail, we felt the Brookfield Auto Tour is worth exploring and created a page for it on this website.  You could tie in some hikes along the way as you do the auto tour.  This twelve mile tour takes you along a series of truck trails through different sections of this huge state forest.

Tour Guide booklets are available at the Moscow Road assembly area, the state forest main entrance on Shawler Brook Road at Truck Trail #1 near stop #8 of the tour.  The tour begins at the Moscow Road assembly area.  There are rest rooms available at the assembly area.  While driving on this tour, be alert for horseback riders, mountain bikers, hikers, logging trucks and wildlife.

Start at the Moscow Road Assembly Area.

STOP #1 - Moscow Hill Camping and Assembly Area

The surrounding area is the main staging area for horse and snowmobile riders who use the 130 mile Brookfield Trail System.  The Assembly Area was established in the late 1970's to accommodate day as well as overnight use for both riders and horses.  Currently there are 46 sheltered tie stalls, two sheltered stallion pens, a mounting platform for those with disabilities, restrooms, a pavilion, a hand pump and camping sites designed for larger vehicles and trailers.

Directly east of the Assembly Area is the Moscow Hill Camping Area, which is located on the original grounds of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-131 established in 1935.  The CCC was instrumental in the development of public lands all across the United States including this state forest.  The CCC was partly responsible for creating the truck trails and digging the water holes, while also planting trees in the state forest.

Today, this area offers 21 sites designed for horse camping in a more private setting than in the campsites at the Assembly Area.  Access to both camping areas are available year round, however they are used most from May 1 to October 31.

Directions to Stop #2:  From the Assembly Area, turn to the right and go 0.3 miles to Quaker Hill Road.  Turn right and go one mile to the intersection with Truck Trail #12.  Bear right and look for Stop #2 near the Charles Baker State Forest DEC sign.

STOP #2 - Quaker Hill Cemetery

This area of Brookfield was settled by Quaker families in the early 1800's.  The area was originally named Moscow and later Delancy after some of the original settlers.  The cemetery, which is located on private land, is the resting place for some of those early settlers. 

Directions to Stop #3:  Bear right from the cemetery on Truck Trail #12 for a few hundred feet.  Turn right onto Truck Trail #13 and go 0.7 mile until you reach Stop #3.


STOP #3 - Brookfield Trail System

On each side of the road you'll notice a designated horse/snowmobile trail.  The trail on the north side (right) is a secondary trail connecting to the Carriage Trail, the main trail leading out of the Assembly Area.  The trail on the south side (left) leads to the heart of the Brookfield Trail System.

The Brookfield Trail System was designed in 1966 with construction beginning in 1967.  The original plan was for 99 miles of both on-road and off-road trails.  Today the system includes 130 miles of trails throughout the five state forests, of which 59 miles are off-road trails.

Take a short hike at this stop, by following Trail #2 just past the junction of Trail #46 to a small stream and back.  This short hike is just under one mile. Park your car on the side of the road.

Directions to STOP #4 - Continue on Truck Trail #13 for two miles and loop for Stop #4.  We did not see a sign.  There is an opening along the road with stands of Red Pines, which is Stop #4.

STOP #4 - Red Pine Plantations

On each side of the road there is a red pine plantation.  Both stands were planted in 1934 on old pasture lands.  These trees grew undisturbed until the 1960's, at which time it was determined they were overcrowded and needed to be thinned out.

The trees were harvested in the late 1970's and then commercially thinned a second time in 1997.  There was more thinning again in 1999. 

Directions to STOP #5 - Continue on Truck Trail #13 to Brown Road.  Turn left on Brown Road and then turn right on Truck Trail #6 (picture below).  At the first bend in the road is Stop #5.

STOP #5 - Early Forest Succession

The area directly behind the sign for STOP #5 is a young forest.  In 1977, all mature red pines were harvested, leaving behind some large hardwoods trees and a multitude of small seedlings.

Directions to STOP #6 - Continue on Truck Trail #6 for 0.7 miles and turn right on Truck Trail #4.  After 0.2 miles, turn left on Truck Trail #2.  Stop #6 is at the first stream crossing.


Truck Trail #2 in Charles Baker State Forest along the Brookfield Auto Tour.


STOP #6 - Water Hole

This is a stone water hole developed by the CCC during the 1930's as a storage for easily accessible water in the event of a forest fire.  These water holes were dug throughout the state's forests and maintained for fire readiness.  To the right of the water hole is a small stream that eventually flows into the Chenango River, several miles from this spot.

Directions to STOP #7:  Continue on Truck Trail #2, past Truck Trail #5.  Stop #7 is at the bottom of the hill.

OPTIONAL STOP:  Just prior to Truck Trail #5 on your right is Trail #11 and the Ledges Trail.  Take a short hike along the Ledges Trail.  How long or far you explore along this trail is up to you.  The trail heads about one mile to Furman Mill Road.

STOP #7 - Aspen Regeneration

The two acre open area behind the sign for Stop #7 is one of several aspen regeneration cuts done in 1993.  

Directions to STOP #8:  Continue on Truck Trail #2 and turn left on Truck Trail #1 and drive 0.3 miles to Stop #8 on your left.

 STOP #8 - Lost Pond

A historical landmark associated with this area is Lost Pond.  This wetland is a floating mat of vegetation made of moss and acid loving plants and shrubs, including blueberry.  There is a picnic table and a day use area that can be reached by driving 0.1 miles, then turn left on Truck Trail #5 for 0.3 miles.  There will be a driveway on your left that leads to the day use area.

Directions to STOP #9:  Continue on Truck Trail #1 for 0.6 mile and then turn right onto Truck Trail #14.  Truck Trail #14 is a short cul-de-sac with Stop #9 about 0.3 miles in.


STOP #9 - Old Fire Tower Site

Behind the sign for Stop #9 is the site of the old Brookfield Fire Tower, which stood here from 1948 until 1983.  The fire tower became a popular tourist destination, complete with picnic tables, grills, restrooms and a drilled well.  At the peak of its popularity, the fire tower received more than 4000 visitors annually. 

Due to liability concerns about public use of the fire tower, it was dismantled and auctioned off.  There is a picnic table and some fire pits available for visitors to use.

Directions to STOP #10:  Return to Truck Trail #1 and turn right.  At Brown Road, turn right and then turn left on Truck Trail #12.  Travel 0.4 miles to reach the last stop of the Auto Tour.

STOP 10 - Northern Hardwoods

Directly behind the sign for Stop #10 is a 17 acre stand of northern hardwoods typical of central New York State.  This stand was thinned for firewood in 1982 and again in 2004.

This was the last stop of the "official" stop of the Brookfield Auto Tour.  We suggest one more stop just a bit further along Truck Trail #12 to where Trail #28 & Trail #29 crosses the road.  Park along the side of the road and take a hike to "Elmer's Place".  You can follow Trail #29 all the way back to Trail #2 and stop #3 if you wanted to.


Take a hike along Trail #29 to "Elmer's Place" in Charles Baker State Forest.

Truck Trail #12 in Charles Baker State Forest.

To return to the Assembly Area, continue on Truck Trail #12.  Turn left on Quaker Hill Road and then left onto Moscow Road.  The Assembly Area is 0.3 miles on your left.  There is a map below of the auto tour.

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