Photography, Upper East, WAKE Projects

UPPER EAST: Central New York Glacial Lakeshores


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Map of Glacial Lakes in CNY Following a few days of fresh snowfall in Syracuse, I wanted to go winter hiking and take some photos. Because of the nature of Upstaters, the weather did not deter others from the trails and they were worn in enough that snow shoes and cross country skies were not necessary. I decided on a few different shorter hikes around a handful of Central New York’s glacial lakes: Green Lake/Round Lake, Oneida Lake, Beaver Lake, and Onondaga Lake. Interestingly enough, the two most well known of these lakes fall at opposite ends of the federal classification spectrum.

Green Lake in Fayetteville is one of the world’s most studied glacial lakes with a recorded history that dates back to the 1830’s. It was the first identified meromictic lake in North America, meaning the warm surface water never mixes with the colder deep water so the sediment at the bottom never turns to mud. Because of this, there is very little decay in the rock sediment and the water is a blueish-green color instead of having brown tones. Its neighbor, Round Lake, has been designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Dept of the Interior. Both lakes are subjects of extensive research on ancient oceans and regional climate history due to their rare deep depths, plunging well below sea level. The protected park land surrounding the two lakes is home to the largest area of old growth forest in CNY.

Onondaga Lake is unfortunately famous for being one of the most polluted lakes in the country. It is a small lake bordering the city of Syracuse, and though located in the same region as the 11 (some say 12) Finger Lakes, it is not considered to be a part of the series because it flows north into Lake Ontario while the Finger Lakes flow south. The three tributaries flowing into Onondaga Lake are Ninemile Creek, Onondaga Creek and the Syracuse wastewater treatment plant, which alone contributes 20% of the total water inflow – the highest amount of wastewater inflow of any lake in the United States. Clean up efforts on the lake date back over 100 years and it was declared a federal Superfund site in 1994.

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