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Green Lake

Coordinates: 43.050°N 75.966°W

Elevation: 418 feet/127.4 meters



Green Lake in Green Lakes State Park in the Town of Manlius. The color of the lake can vary depending on the light.


One of three lakes in Onondaga County named Green Lake, this one is in the Town of Manlius. Certainly the best known (and most studied) of the three, this Green Lake is a sister to Round Lake to which it is connected by a short creek. Both Green Lake and Round Lake are located in Green Lakes State Park and areThe roots of a dead cedar at the edge of the lake. open to the public year round.


Like Round Lake, Green Lake is in a glacial valley surrounded by steep, forested hillsides. Because they are basically round, both lakes are thought to have been the catch basins of waterfalls that no longer exist. In addition, both lakes are quite deep and, including sediment, may be as deep as 500 ft./152.4 m.


Both lakes are meromictic, lacking the mixing or "turning over" of the lake in spring and autumn that other lakes in the region experience. This "turning over" helps sediments to decompose. But, with meromictic lakes, the sediment never moves (and decomposes slowly) and can be a record of the sorts of the plants and animals that have died in the lake throughout the eons. In addition, below about 70 ft./21.3 m., Green Lake has a "dead zone" where there is little oxygen and, consequently, few fish and other animals. Some aquatic bacteria survive in the lake and, at certain times of the year, are known to turn the lake different colors (rosey pink or purple, for example) and to produce a sulfurous odor. These bacteria may also produce calcium carbonate that, over time, accumulates in quantity and settles out in shallow water, creating whitish "reefs" like the one at Deadman's Point. The lake gets its green color from the poorly decomposed organic material in the water that reflects light, making the water appear green.


A boy and his dog stand on one of the calcium carbonate reefs in the lake. This is not recommended as the reefs are environmentally sensitive.


Meromictic lakes are extremely rare, especially in the United States. There are only a few in New York State and perhaps a dozen in the entire country.


Green Lake is about 15 acres in size with a constructed beach, bathhouse, and other facilities clustered at the northern end. A boathouse rents paddleboats and rowboats, however, private boats are not permitted on the lake. A trail runs around both Green and Round lakes that is popular with dog walkers. Brochures about the park and its trails are available at the park entrance.


The park has 137 campsites (42 electric) and 7 cabins. There are no lakefront accommodations.


Updated 18 July 2009








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