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"
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
© 2009 Carol W. LaGrasse
All rights reserved. This material may not be broadcast, published,
rewritten or redistributed without written permission.