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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Rome Sand Plains/Rome Fish Hatchery
Description: Rome Sand Plains is one of only a handful of inland pine barrens in the nation. Encompassing thousands of acres on five properties around the City of Rome, this natural treasure consists of high sand dunes, low peat bogs, pine barrens, hardwood forests, meadows, wetlands and one of the largest beaver ponds in the state. The unique bird life, butterflies and plants of the sand plain make it a popular destination for students, birdwatchers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

About 4 miles north of the City of Rome, you can visit the Rome Fish Hatchery, which produces nearly 160,000 pounds of brook and brown trout annually.

Wildlife to Watch: If you visit in May, look for blue lupine. This beautiful wildflower is essential to the survival of the threatened frosted elfin butterfly.

Walking through tall pine, hemlock and oak forests in spring, listen for the songs of woodland warblers and the territorial drumming of ruffed grouse. Steep slopes of ancient sand dunes drop to the shrubby flood plain of Wood Creek. At the site of a former sand-mining pit, you’ll see what a sand dune looks like in cross section, with a gently sloping windward side and steeply sloping leeward side. The back side of the dune drops off sharply into forested wetland favored by Beavers.

The nearby hatchery has a visitors center with interpretive panels. Fish tanks provide opportunities to see the various life stages of the species raised there. Windows into the working area enable visitors to watch as staff carry out essential fish-rearing tasks.

Special Tips: An extensive 6-mile trail system takes you through the sand plains for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. Kiosks provide information about the area’s ecology and history.

Rome Sand Plains: 315-866-6330, www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/66122.html

Other Activities: Rome Sand Plains is owned by five different entities. Some areas allow biking, cross-country skiing, hunting and trapping. Contact DEC for more information. There are no restroom facilities at this site. Rome Fish Hatchery is open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Ownership: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, The Nature Izaak Walton League, City of Rome and Oneida 
Size: 4,000 acres 
Closest Town: Rome

RestroomsParkingCross Country SkiingHikingHuntingDrinking WaterBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Monarch Butterfly - Photo by Gerry Lemmo
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
Rome Sand Plains: Take the NYS Thwy./I-90 to exit 31 toward I-790 west/NY-8/NY-12. Turn right onto N. Genesee St. Take the first right onto Auert Ave. Bear right to merge onto NY-49 west. After 14.6 miles, merge onto NY-49 west/NY-46 west/NY-69 west/Erie Blvd. toward downtown Rome. Bear left when Rtes. 46 and 49 split from Rte. 69. Travel west for 3 miles, and turn right on Oswego Rd. In less than 1 mile, turn left on Hogsback Rd. The parking area for the Sand Dune Trail is on the right at 1.5 miles; at 2 miles on the left is the parking area for the Wood Creek Trail.

Rome Fish Hatchery: Located off Rte. 46, 2 miles north of Rome. Follow the above directions from the Thwy./I-90 to NY-49 west/NY-46 west/NY 69 west. Turn right onto NY-26 north/NY-46 north. Follow NY-46 north 4 miles and turn left onto Fish Hatchery Rd.

Map Link

Rome Sand Plains/Rome Fish Hatchery : Wildlife Viewing Area