Coordinates: 42.462°N 76.272°W
Elevation: 1156 feet/352.3 meters
Although Dryden Lake is a relatively small body of water--about 106 acres--it's a popular lake because it offers so much to so many.
An irregularly shaped glacial lake situated entirely in the Town of Dryden in Tompkins County, Dryden Lake is about .75 mi./1.2 km. long and 12 ft./3.6 m. deep. At 1156 ft./352.3 m. in elevation, Dryden Lake is one of the higher lakes in the Finger Lakes. The broad valley in which it is located is bordered by some of the highest hills in the region.
Why is Dryden Lake so Popular?
Unlike many of the lakes in the region that are surrounded by houses and cottages with limited access, a large portion of Dryden Lake is accessible to the public. The northern portion of the lake has been designated a federal wetland, while the southern portion is a state wetland. Much of the land around the lake has been designated a Unique Natural Area by the county. A portion of the northwest corner is a town park and the southeast corner is a golf course. Finally, along the western shore runs a scenic portion of a 4.2-mi./6.7-km. hiking/biking/horseback riding trail.
Dryden Lake has all kinds of nooks and crannies to be explored by paddlers of all levels. Along the shore is a variety of rooted vegetation (good habitat for breeding birds, fish, amphibians, and insects) and overhanging branches from trees and shrubs that attract a variety of birds. Access for paddle boats can be done either on the northwest shore by the viewing platform, south of the spillway, or at the official boat launch site just north of the spillway. This site has a dirt ramp. Both sites have plenty of paved parking. Allow at least 2 hours to paddle around the lake.
Dryden Lake Park is a small, town park with a picnic pavilion, playground, restrooms, and just off the parking lot, a wheelchair-accessible platform on the lake shore that can be used for wildlife watching.
The Golf Course
Lakeview Golf Club
Address: 430 Lake Rd., Dryden, NY 13053
The lake attracts a wide variety of birds, especially waterfowl like Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, teal, scoters, and mergansers to name just a few. Osprey are sometimes seen fishing the lake. You may even find a sandpiper or two feeding along the lake shore.
Historically, there probably weren't many fish species in the lake. However, many have been introduced, especially since the 1970s. The environmental effects of this don't seem to have been studied.
Walks along the trail are popular with birders where one can spot a lot of the bug eaters--warblers, orioles, wrens, gnatcatchers, flycatchers--as well as sparrows, juncos, and thrushes.
Dryden Lake certainly doesn't exist in a vacuum but in the context of the valley in which it resides. Birders like to scout out the farm fields, especially in the winter, for horned larks, pipits, and snow buntings. You should also be able to see red-tail and sharp-shinned hawks all year long and turkey vultures any time but during the winter.
Beavers and muskrats can be seen in or near the lake. Deer frequent the field edges and coyotes search for rodents in the fields.