Explore     Lake Lila

from Tupper Lake

crossroads and eco-center of the Adirondacks


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Lake Lila photo by Robert Marrone

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       The 7,215 acre Lake Lila Primitive area is in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County. A road leading to private lands separates the west side of the primitive area from the adjoining Five Ponds Wilderness. On the south the area connects to the newly acquired William C. Whitney Area. The rest of the primitive area adjoins private lands. The Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor (formerly the Adirondack Railroad) runs roughly north and south, not far from the west shore of Lake Lila. To reach the primitive area, take State Route 30 from the village of  Tupper Lake, to the Sabattis Road (Hamilton County Route 10). Turn west and go about seven miles to the Lake Lila Road (an improved gravel road), marked with a DEC sign. Turn left (south) on Lake Lila Road and proceed about six miles to 30-car parking area. Lake Lila Road is bordered on both sides by private land until the parking area is reached. Overnight parking in the parking area is permitted, but the parking of trailers is prohibited. If the parking area is full, visitors must park off Sabattis Road and hike the full distance to the lake. There is no parking on the access road.


       Once called Smith's Lake, Lake Lila was named by William Seward Webb after his wife, the former Lila Vanderbilt. Webb, whose Nahasane Park once covered over 200,000 acres, built the Adirondack Railroad in 1891-1892. The railroad ran from Utica to Montreal and opened the western Adirondacks to tourist and lumbermen. Shortly after the railroad was completed, Webb built his Forest Lodge on the western shore of Lake Lila on the site now occupied by the lean-to. The state acquired most of what remained of Nehasane Park in 1979. Though the lodge was removed, the old Nehasane station building still stands beside the railroad.

Wilderness Character

           Lake Lila is the primary attraction of this area. Covering more than 1,400 acres, the lake offers superb opportunities for canoeing and camping under essentially wilderness conditions. Visitors will find giant white pines along the shore of the lake, several natural white sand beaches and seven islands. To preserve the wild character of the area, the use of motor boats, motorized equipment and aircraft is prohibited.

Fish and Wildlife

       Anglers visiting Lake Lila will find brook trout, lake trout, land-locked salmon, smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Adirondack wildlife found in the area include white-tailed deer, black bear, beaver, river otter, mink, red fox, raccoon and fisher. Ospreys have been observed nesting near the lake, and occasional sightings of bald eagles have been reported. Hunting and trapping are permitted in the primitive area. Anglers, hunters, and trappers should consult the regulations guides obtained with their licenses.


    Visitors to the primitive area are encouraged to camp at the lean-to and numerous primitive tent sites designated with "Camp Here" disks, as shown on the map. Low impact camping can also occur anywhere except within the 1/4 mile of the parking lot and within 150 feet of any stream, pond, lake, road or trail. Groups of 10 or more people, as well as individuals or groups planning to stay at a single campsite for more than three successive nights, must obtain a permit in advance from the forest ranger. Please mail a request to NYSDEC, Lake Lila Primitive Area, HCO 1, Box 2A, Long Lake, NY 12847-9720.


    A foot trail proceeds about 0.3 miles from the parking lot area to the nearest  point on the shore of Lake Lila. Another marked trail follows the road from the parking area along the north shore of the lake, reaching the site of the former Forest Lodge at 3.1 miles. Public vehicular use of this road is prohibited. Owners of private lands beyond the primitive area Any use motor vehicles to gain access to their property. From the lodge site, a marked trail leads to the summit of Mt. Frederick (formerly Smith Mountain), overlooking  Lake Lila. The climb of 500 feet offers an excellent view of the lake and the surrounding forest. Hikers will find remnants of several woods roads in the area as well as roads leading to private lands. There are no trails leading into the adjacent Five Ponds Wilderness.


    In addition to this web site you should obtain more detailed topographic maps which can be picked up at your local sport shop. The United States Geologic Survey Maps for the area are the Little Tupper Lake, Forked Lake, Beaver River 7.5 x 15 minute, and Wolf Mountain 7.5 x 15 minute quadrangles. A canoe map of the area can be purchased at the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce store