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Tracy and Mud Lakes and Gatehouse Pond

Coordinates: 42.79646°N 76.14465°W

Elevation: 1150 feet/350.5 meters



Tracy lake is perfectly round like a drop of water in the woods.

Tracy and Mud lakes and the eastern part of Gatehouse Pond are owned by the Central New York Land Trust. They are part of a 72-acre parcel, running from State Route 80 south along Gatehouse Road. The entire parcel is open to the public.


The two lakes and the pond are located on Gatehouse Road in the Town of Tully in Onondaga County. They can be reached by taking Interstate 81 to Exit 14. From Exit 14, go west on State Route 80 about 1 mi./1.6 km. to Gatehouse Road. Turn left (south). Gatehouse Pond will be on your right and left, divided by the road. Tracy and Mud lakes will be about .5 mi./.8 km. further down the road on the left. There is a sign. Park north of the sign parallel to the road. There is a trail created by use, but it is not marked. A GPS would be good to bring along as the trail is not always obvious.

Physical Features

These three bodies of water are part of the Tully Lakes, a series of kettles--depressions left by melting ice from the glaciers. Tracy Lake is, like many of the kettles in the region, perfectly round. It is very small and may be only about an acre in size. It is surrounded by trees right up to the water line.


Tracy Lake is separated from Mud Lake by a rise of glacial till. Unlike Tracy Lake, Mud Lake is irregular in shape, but it is still situated in a woods with trees standing right in the water. Gatehouse Pond is also separated from Tracy Lake by a change in terrain and woods.


Mud Lake on a bleak day in autumn.

All three bodies of water are in the St. Lawrence River Basin and, consequently, drain north. In the 1800s water was diverted from these and other bodies of water in the area to run a sawmill, a carding mill, a rake factory, and a brine operation.


For a more detailed explanation of the lakes' physical features and some interesting maps, see "Hydrogeology of the Tully Lakes Area in Southern Onondaga and Northern Cortland Counties, New York" by the U.S. Geological Survey.


Tracy Lake is so small that it isn't worth putting a boat on it. Gatehouse Pond and Mud Lake are also small, but their irregular shapes make them interesting to investigate with either a canoe or kayak.


These bodies of water are, for the most part, rather shallow with mucky bottoms. Swimming may be great if you're a beaver or a duck, but it isn't recommended for humans.


There are no off-road bike trails in this area, however, all the roads in the vicinity are interesting to bike. State routes 80 and U.S. Route 11 have paved shoulders and all of the county and most of the town roads are paved but don't have shoulders. A helmet is recommended.


Hiking is available on several trails in the Svend O. Heiberg Memorial Forest owned by the State University of New York's Beavers reside at Mud lake.Environmental Science and Forestry School. The forest is located south of the Village of Tully in the Town of Preble in Cortland County and is open to the public for day use only. Notice to Visitors

More information and photos


Because of its small size, Tracy Lake gets very little wildlife, however, both Mud Lake and Gatehouse Pond attract a variety of ducks and geese especially during migration. Mud Lake has evidence of beavers. The pond snail Viviparus contectus seems to be common, at least at Mud Lake.


The woods in the area are typical. You should be able to find a wide variety of birds that enjoy woodland as well as white-tailed deer, red, gray, and flying squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and red foxes.


The Tully Lakes are all photogenic and worth every click of the shutter at any season. These are calm and quiet bodies of water with a peacefulness that attracts wildlife.


Gatehouse Pond is divided by Gatehouse Road, so the pond is on both sides of the road. The pond is larger than both lakes put together.

Parks, Forests and Wildlife Management Areas

Dog Hollow State Forest

Donahue Woods State Forest

Highland Forest Park

Kettlebail State Forest (Located on Kettlebail Road in the Town of Truxton in Cortland County)

Labrador Hollow Unique Area See also

Morgan Hill State Forest

Nearby Places of Interest (a partial list)

Beak & Skiff Apple Farm Winery 

Cortland Repertory Theatre

Frog Pond Farm Folk Art Gallery

Labrador Mountain

Little York Plantation

Song Mountain Resort

Toggenburg Mountain

Tully Area Historical Society


There are no bed and breakfasts near the lakes, however, there are bed and breakfasts in Onondaga County and Cortland County. Wilderness camping is permitted in the state forests for three days without a permit. There is a Best Western in Tully roughly 1 mi./1.6 km. from Gatehouse Road.


Created 10 November 2009







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