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Green Lakes State Park: 10 Reasons to Visit this Hidden Gem in Central New York


Green Lake and Round Lake are Beautiful Colors!


Of course, there is science behind the spectacular blue-green color of Green Lake!  Green Lake is one of two glacial lakes at the park.  The other is Round Lake, a Natural National Land Mark.  Both lakes are unusually deep for their size.  Green Lake is about 195 feet (59 meters) deep at its deepest point, while Round Lake is about 170 feet (53 meters) deep. 

Green Lake and Round Lake are meromictic lakes.  In most lakes, water between the lower and upper layers mix due to seasonal changes in temperatures.  However, water in meromictic lakes doesn’t mix.   Because the water doesn’t mix, it is clear.   According to the information I read at the lake, “When sunlight shines on clear water, it naturally reflects the blue wavelengths of light to your eyes.  The green color is from green wavelengths reflecting off the calcium carbonate produced by the cyanobacteria.”  In contrast, the rest of the colors are absorbed into the water.

a photo of a sign at Green Lakes explaining the lakes’ layers


Rare Freshwater “Reefs” Grow in Green Lakes 

The photo below shows Deadman’s Point at Green Lakes.  This shelf is on the lefthand side (west side) of the lake as you walk on the path from the beach.  Deadman’s Point is the largest “reef” in the park.  It looks like coral, but It is not made of corals.  Rather, it is made of microbialites (rock-like underwater structures made of millions of microbes).  These microbialites secrete a mucous that traps calcium carbonate.  This creates living structures like rocks.  The “reef” at Green Lakes was built up over thousands of years.  Underneath these ledges, there are rare mosses and sponges.  For these reasons, people should not go onto Deadman’s point or touch other “reefs” in the park.


Camping at Green Lakes State Park

Our family, along with another couple and their children, might have the record for the number of years in a row camped at Green Lakes!  We camped there for 20 consecutive years!  We always rented some of the seven cabins.  Each cabin has two rooms, a small kitchen, a flush toilet, and a screened-in porch.   While we prefer the cabins, there are also 142 campsites for tenting and motorhomes.  Since we camped there for so many years, we know the place inside and out!

Hiking and Biking at the Park


There is a nice walking path around Green Lake.  It is shaded most of the way (except on the beach end).  That walk is a little over 2 miles.  If you combine the path with the connecting Round Lake path, the trek is just over 3 miles.  Besides the paths around the lakes, there are 14 great trails in and around the park.  In the warmer months, these are good for hiking and mountain biking.  During the winter, some of the trails are used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Geocaching In and Near Green Lakes

If you’ve read some of our other posts, you know we have a passion for geocaching.  Over the years, we have found numerous caches in and near the park.  In 2021, Green Lakes is part of a geocaching challenge.

The Beach and Playground


There is a beach with lifeguards.  The water in the roped-in area is shallow.  There are swimming lanes a little further out.  The facilities at the beach include restrooms, changing rooms, a first-aid station, and a food stand.  Adjacent to the beach is a modern playground and many picnic tables.


Visitors can rent canoes and kayaks at the boathouse on the righthand side of the beach.  They have some “crystal” kayaks that are clear, so people can see under the water!


People can fish along the sides of Green Lake.  They can also fish from rental boats.   Rainbow trout are stocked every spring.  Largemouth bass, bluegill, and rock bass also live in the lake.  All the fish live in the upper layer of water.  When walking around the lake, it is so clear that you can usually see fish swimming near the surface.

Green Lakes Golf Course

Green Lakes has an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, a famous golf course architect.  This is a challenging course with many hills.  There is also a fun frisbee golf course.

A Great Restaurant

The Yards Grille is adjacent to the 18-hole golf course.  There is seating indoors, as well as outdoors.  The outdoor patio overlooks the lake.  The menu has a wide variety of lunch and dinner options, as well as fine beverages.  We are always pleased with our meals!

Because of the natural beauty and the variety of activities, I think anyone would enjoy visiting this hidden gem.

If you are looking for some corresponding resources to use in your classroom, you might consider:


And remember, it’s all science!


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