Property Rights Foundation of America®

A Hike to Lake Lila

Photos: Carol W. LaGrasse

On August 5, 2009, Susan Allen and I hiked to Lake Lila, intending to see the lake that is guarded from the motoring public, but which APA Chairman Curt Stiles had accessed by motor vehicle earlier in the summer, by reportedly "finding" a key to the locked gate to the road leading to the beautiful lake.

Lake Lila. Athletic youth reach Lake Lila by canoe or kayak from a chain of lakes and portages from the north. The last water bodies on the route to Lake Lila are Lows Lake, Bogs Lake, Clear Pond and a portage to Lake Lila. An easier option is a stream within walking distance from the parking lot where the locked gate to the road to Lake Lila is located.

The Whitney Wilderness (with Whitney Park, which contains Little Tupper Lake, and Nehasane Park, which contains Lake Lila) is located in the town of Long Lake in Hamilton County, in an area designated by the APA and DEC as the William C. Whitney Wilderness. To reach the parking lot for Lake Lila, a person drives north on Route 30 from the picturesque hamlet of Long Lake and turns west on County Route 10, the road to Sabattis. A sign signaling the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area marks the turn. Omitting the headquarters turn, Route 10 leads to the turn to the dirt road to Lake Lila.

Little Tupper Lake Headquarters Sign. On County Route 10, before reaching the turn to Lake Lila, there is a turn for the Little Tupper Lake Headquarters, which contains the former Whitney Headquarters and many outbuildings.

Parking Area at DEC's Little Tupper Lake Headquarters. Paddlers intending to ply Little Tupper Lake can park at the parking area and carry their craft the very short haul to the lake. There are 34 lake shore campsites on Little Tupper Lake and a few nearby ponds. This view from the shore area depicts the industrial buildings that the Whitneys utilized for their forest operations. The generating plant for the buildings is located in one of these industrial buildings. The 45,000-acre estate is criss-crossed with modern logging roads that are being allowed to revert to nature.

View of the Whitney Headquarters from the shore of Little Tupper Lake. The large building is now the DEC's Little Tupper Lake Headquarters. Spreading uphill from the lakeshore is a large, gracious well-mown lawn of several acres. The mansion-like building is not accessible to the public, but is used for DEC's administrative purposes. In addition, a number of modern cottages that formerly were guest houses sit near the shore or the lake and up the hillside. In August one appeared to be occupied by Americorps volunteers from the Appalachian College, indicated by a vehicle with a Georgia plate parked in the private lot.

A five-mile drive along a road marked almost continuously by jutting rocks and potholes led to the parking lot for Lake Lila. On the way we met a young man who had canoed to the launch near the parking area from his camp site on the shore with his little dog to seek a veterinarian, but hit a jutting rock that caused his SUV to leak all its oil. We drove back up the road as Susan searched for a location with cell phone reception to reach his road service agency for a tow. Back at his waiting spot, we picked him up to talk directly on the cell phone when we finally reached the agency. After an hour or so, a forest ranger came along in the course of his afternoon duty and took over this "rescue" and wait.

The Gate and Stop Sign. After we finally enjoyed the picnic lunch that Susan had happily packed, we walked around the gate and hiked to Lake Lila. It was a cool, sunny afternoon and a beautiful walk. We met no one on our way to the lake. We next headed west along the road to the William Seward Webb's nineteenth century Nehasane station on his railroad that once ran from Utica to Montreal. After we walked along the lake about a half mile, we came to a stream and met a strapping fellow carrying a pack that looked as though it weighed as much as either of us, who had hiked down the stream from Clear Pond and tiny Harrington Pond ahead of his group.

The beach at Lake Lila afforded a beautiful view of the lake from the north, as well as an obvious canoe launching location to reach any of the 24 official shorefront and island campsites on this good-sized lake.

Lake Lila on a late summer afternoon. One last view of the lake before the two-mile hike back to the parking lot.

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© 2009 Carol W. LaGrasse
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