NY Directory
NY Map
Delaware Forest
Forest Data
41 55 50 N
73 58 38 W
115 to 300 feet
Kingston East
Total Acres
107 acres +
Old Growth
Forest Type
secondary old growth
White Pine

Endangered Forest
Delaware Forest
Delaware Avenue
Kingston, New York

Surveys: June 17, 2002; July 13, 2002; Sept. 10, 2002

Delaware Forest is over 200 acres of remnant secondary old growth woodlands east of Kingston on a limestone ridge overlooking the Hudson River, just north of the mouth of the Rondout River. Delaware Avenue crosses the ridge west-to-east on the south edge of the forest, separating it from Hasbrouck Park. Delaware Avenue descends over 200 feet to the little settlement of Ponck Hockie, which is tucked on a terrace below this ridge above the Roundout River, cutoff from Kingston by this hard limestone ledge. This woodland is the largest last contiguous forest left in the City of Kingston.

The thin soils on this limestone ledge are sweetened by this calcium-rich, alkaline bedrock, able to support strong natural communities. Such sweet sites often shelter special, rare and threatened plants and creatures. They also sustain several second growth communities of rather ancient, large trees. And around the planet, most sacred sites are built on limestone, and many holy places are built from limestone.
Aerial Photo
Delaware Forest
Kingston, New York
click to enlarge

PHOTO www.nysgis.state.ny.us

This remarkable sylvan sanctuary of biodiversity has suffered three centuries of settlement and development, and survived with many elements intact. For at least the last century, the forest was Owned by Tilcon, a limestone mining corporation, the forest has remained undisturbed, a nearly forgotten corner of the city. Today, it contains a thriving diversity of plant, bird and animal communities in various stages of disturbance and regeneration.

  • Red, White and Black Oaks on southwest slopes and hollows up to 13 feet around amid a rich diversity of other trees and understory species. The canopy reaches—sometimes exceeds—100 feet.
  • White Pine soaring to 100 feet on a northwest ridge, and up to 110 inch girth, with hawks nesting in their huge soft crowns.
  • Vernal Pools ringed by shadbushes in shaded hollows on the north, soil still moist after two years of hot, dry weather.
  • Big Red Oaks and dying giant Hemlocks on a northeast ridge around an immense, 60-foot deep sinkhole.
  • Spectacular Views from the east edge of this ridge allow glimpses of the Hudson riverscape and two old quarries.
  • Bloodroot and Ginger standing thick and tall under birch and cherry above a long sinkhole where the first factory rolled out on to ridge.
  • Bats under the southeast corner roost in five acres of old mines that once grew mushrooms for a farming family.
  • Tree of Heaven sprouting vigorously in a recent clear cut—undesireable alien invader from China, whose dark side earned it the nickname "Ghetto Tree."
  • Slabs of Limestone,stood on end and edge on the crown of the ridge hint at even older megalithic mysteries hidden under the limbs of this ancient remnant forest.
Delaware Avenue Forest
Kingston, New York
click to enlarge
from the NYS Thruway (I-87)
  • take Exit 19
  • exit traffic circle on I-587 (NY 28) into Kingston
  • follow signs to Broadway (NY 28)
  • go past East Chester Street (1.7 miles)
  • turn left onto Delaware Avenue east
  • continue east past US 9W interchange
    skip to US 9W below
    from east side of the Hudson River
  • take Rte. 199 west across the Hudson
  • exit onto NY 32 south
  • continue south 2.5 miles to US 9W
  • turn on US 9W south
  • exit onto Delaware Avenue east
    from US 9W
  • proceed downhill
  • at the bottom, turn left onto Corporate Avenue
  • park at far end of Huck Fasteners parking lot

  • Topographic Map
    Delaware Forest
    Kingston, New York
    click to enlarge



    The ridge is formed by upturned layers of a thick bed of hard, durable limestone. A 400-million-year-old, shallow ocean reef has become a bony bulge of alkaline bedrock along the Hudson River. This stubborn,crystalline rock is dissolved and sculptured by water into fissures, sinkholes and caverns. This ridge has several features of a classic "karst" landscape, but the features are young and immature. Nonetheless, the ridge offers unique, spectacular and inspiring scenes of the Hudson River to the east and south, and Catskill High Peaks to the northwest.

    In the 19th century, limestone was mined from the north end of this ridge for high quality cement to construct cities, factories and roads. Much of the rock was blasted, crushed, burned, and powdered, then loaded on ships to transport to Manhattan and points around the Hudson Harbor. Today, that rare geology is a moonscape of boulders and truck tracks amid lagoons and pits.

    Second Growth

    But the south end of this limestone ledge was barely touched by miners, and the forest has recovered from early settlement clear cutting, and now sprouts many big trees supporting a complex habitat. A mid-19th Century timber harvest was the last significant disturbance to this sylvan community, so it was left untouched for a century, survivors slowly maturing into elder trees—mostly oaks, white pine and hemlock, but a complete diversity of other sylvan species.
    Black Oak
    Delaware Forest
    one of the smaller specimens

    PHOTO DYarrow 6/17/02

    The Delaware Avenue Forest consists of several distinct sections, each characterized by different soil, topography and species mix. In the summer of 2002, NYOGFA survey team members made four visits to the forest. Aided by aerial photos, we have identified 80% of the forest components, although several key features are still unvisited. But we are impressed by the diversity and complexity of this forest.
    White Oak
    Delaware Forest
    Kingston, New York

    PHOTO DYarrow 6/17/02

    Mauro Parisi and David MacCandlish
    measure a forest matriarch

    Unfortunately, in 1995, the City of Kingston bought 107 acres of this forest to convert into an industrial park with five factories. The City intends clearcut the trees, level much of the terrain, and cover it with asphalt, concrete and steel. The City, led by the Mayor, will convert its last contiguous natural community into parking lots and big boxes.

    The plan is to blast and bulldoze five level factory sites out of the ridge with public funds, the build a "field of dreams" industrial park. The City already has $300,000 federal and county funding for this productivity park. In the next few years, this forest of ancient trees on a scenic Hudson River ridgetop will be severely disturbed, and may be obliterated forever.

    As a concession to nature, the development project director set a buffer zone around the edges of the factory sites that will not be disturbed, and preserved as forest. This area of steep slopes contains most of the larger, older trees on the ridge. On the aerial photos, the inside edge of this buffer zone displays as a yellow dotted line,

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    The Earth Renewal and Restoration Alliancewww.championtrees.orgupdated 4/14/2003