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Nature Centers in the Finger Lakes

Beaver Lake

8477 East Mud Lake Rd.
Baldwinsville, NY 13027


Educational displays, restrooms, and the gift shop are located in Beaver Lake Nature Center.


Located in Onondaga County, Beaver Lake Nature Center is just west of the Village of Baldwinsville in the Town of Lysander. It is within easy driving distance of the Seneca River and the City of Syracuse.


Beaver Lake was once known as Mud Lake, hence the fact that it is located on Mud Lake Road. You may still see it listed on topographic maps as Mud Lake.


Beaver Lake Nature Center is owned by the County of Onondaga and maintained by Onondaga County Parks. There is a small fee upon LEAVING the park. In 2010 that fee was $3.00 per vehicle. This fee must be paid whether an attendant is on duty or not. When an attendant is not on duty, the fee is paid to a machine that doesn't accept bills larger than $5.00. It does provide change.


Although a county park, there are no concession stands nor is any food sold on the property. Picnic tables are provided, but, generally, fires and camping are not permitted. This is a day-use, carry in-carry out facility.


Please be aware that under no circumstances (other than guide dogs) are dogs allowed anywhere in this park.


Beaver Lake is 600 acres, including a 206-acre glacial lake surrounded by woods and bogs. There is a nature center with numerous interesting educational displays, a large window for viewing birds at feeders, and a gift shop. There is a lovely flower garden between the parking lot and the entrance to the nature center. Some of the plants have been deliberately planted in raised beds to be better accessible to those in wheelchairs. In addition, the center puts on 400 programs annually and offers a summer day-camp program.


Raised beds of the ornamental garden at Beaver Lake Nature Center provide touch and smell access to visitors with visual and mobility limitations.



Beaver Lake is one of the larger "small" lakes in the Finger Lakes. It is completely surrounded by woods and bog and is not accessible other than through the park entrance. The lake is thought to be 12 ft./3 m. deep at its deepest point and is very silty. When the wind whips up the waves, the water turns muddy brown, getting back to its former name.


Kayaks, canoes, and electric motorboats are permitted on the lake. If you bring you own, you may park temporarily at the beginning of the lake trail and portage to the dock, a distance of about .1 mi./.16 km., on a well-used, flat trail.


Canoers paddling their own boat on Beaver Lake.


The park also rents canoes, kayaks, paddles, and other equipment for a small hourly charge ($8.00 for the first hour and $2.00 for each additional hour in 2010).


You may boat on the lake only when an attendant is on duty at the dock as the lake is monitored by the attendant for rough water and bad weather. You must return to shore when the attendant blows the horn.


The lake is generally round but does have some interesting boggy coves. There is also a "canoe trail" marked on the center's map, which allows you to boat between a tiny treed island and the shore.


Canoes wait to be rented at the shore of Beaver Lake.


The lake is an important stop-over place for Canada and snow geese and many ducks. Consequently, the lake closes to boating in early September for waterfowl migration. A wildlife blind (hide) provides close viewing and photography.


Swimming is not permitted in the lake at any time. There is no beach.

Hiking Around the Lake

There is a 3-mi./4.8-km. lake trail that is very interesting as it goes through both woods and bog. Along the way, you will pass by a number of benches and seating areas where you can relax, enjoy the view, and eat a picnic lunch. Besides the wildlife blind (hide) on the east side of the lake, there is also an observation deck on the west side.


Trails are well marked and maintained.


Besides the Lake Loop mentioned above, there are several other trails that make up a total of 9 mi./14.4 km. of trail. Lakeview goes out to Inspiration Pont with a viewing platform, the Bog Trail goes through a true bog and an incredible variety of native bog plants to another observation platform. The Pine Meadows trail is known for its dragonflies and damselflies and other aquatic and meadow insects. And all of the woodland trails take you through woods with huge specimens of native trees and native wildflowers and fungi. The trails are well marked and some have interpretative signs. Most of the wet places--like the boggy areas--have boardwalks and much of the Lake Loop is covered in bark chips.


Jogging is permitted on the Lake Loop.Jogging is permitted (and is very popular) on some of the trails, especially the Lake Loop.


Biking is not permitted on the trails, however, biking along local roads is. Mud Lake Road is a two-lane, paved road with no shoulder.

Other Trail Activities

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted in the winter on certain trails, however, the center does not provide equipment for these activities.


Eight hundred species of plants have been recorded in the park. The bog is especially interesting. There you will find button bush, poisonous sumac, carnivorous plants, royal fern, and other plants specific to true bogs.


Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a native bog plant.


Beaver Lake is an excellent spot to go birding at any time of years, though birds are more difficult to see in the summer because of the good cover provided by plants. Two hundred species of bird have been recorded in the park, including American eagles and ospreys. The park also has deer, beavers, turtles, red and gray squirrels, foxes, and many other species. 


Erie Canal through Baldwinsville

Seneca River

Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area

Walking Tour of Baldwinsville


Updated 30 July 2010








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