Green Lakes State Park is located along the eastern edge of the NY Finger Lakes region near Syracuse. Picture two very deep blue green lakes surrounded by old growth forest bursting with hemlocks and tulip-poplars.
This heavily visited park is home to glacial lakes, beach access and sprawling hiking trails. But what makes these meromictic lakes even more perfect are the stunning photography opportunities you can achieve from the still and mirror-like surfaces.
In our detailed guide, we will show you:
- Where to find Green Lakes State Park
- Entrance fee and parking information
- 15 best things to do at Green Lakes
- Green Lakes State Park hiking trails
- Best time of year and day to visit
- Where to eat and stay nearby
- Tips for your visit
Now, let’s visit Green Lakes State Park!
Our Green Lakes State Park Experience
Kristen is a Finger Lakes native, growing up in a small town outside of Rochester and we also temporarily lived in the region when Mark first moved to the US in 2019.
The photos included in this guide were from one of our April visits where we hiked around both of the glacial lakes in the park.
We have extensively hiked and photographed numerous finger lakes waterfalls throughout this entire area so you can trust us when it comes to planning your trip.
While we no longer live here, Kristen’s family still lives in upstate New York and we always return to this beautiful area several times a year.
Planning to travel through the Finger Lakes? Don’t miss our popular guide featuring the best places to visit in the NY Finger Lakes with amazing things to do in every region.
What Can You Expect From This Guide?
This comprehensive first time visitor guide covers everything you need to plan the perfect visit to Green Lakes State Park in upstate New York.
You will find information about parking and entrance fees, a walk through of the entire Green Lake and Round Lake loop trail, camping information as well as nearby hotel and restaurant options.
Our main focus is to provide you with everything you need to know so you can make the most of your visit to Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, NY.
Green Lakes State Park Factfile
- State Park: Green Lakes
- City: Fayetteville
- State: New York
- Address: 7900 Green Lakes Road
- Telephone: (315) 637-6111
- Campgrounds: 135
- Cabins: 7
- Area: 1,785 acres
- Things To Do: Hiking, swimming, boating, golfing, camping
- Open: All year
- Annual Visitors: ~1.87 million
Green Lakes officially became a New York State Park in 1918 and the park has expanded over the years to now cover about 2,000 acres. In 1975, Round Lake was also designated a National Natural Landmark by the US Department of the Interior.
These two glacial lakes are the highlight of this New York State Park with Green Lake measuring about 195 ft deep and Round Lake clocking in around 180 ft deep.
Where Is Green Lakes State Park?
Green Lakes State Park is nestled in the village of Fayetteville which is only 10 miles or a 15 minute drive from Syracuse, NY.
There are plenty of things to do in Syracuse if you are making this visit part of a wider Finger Lakes road trip.
From Syracuse, head east on I-690 and then east on NY-290. If you are coming from anywhere east, west or north of Syracuse, Green Lakes is easily accessible from I-90.
Driving Distances And Airports
Let’s take a quick look at driving distances and times to Green Lakes State Park from nearby major cities as well as the closest airports to Green Lakes for you to consider if visiting from further afield.
Green Lakes distance from nearby major cities:
- Binghamton, NY – 80 miles (1h 30m)
- Syracuse, NY – 10 miles (15m)
- Rochester, NY – 100 miles (1h 30m)
- Buffalo, NY – 170 miles (2h 30m)
- Albany, NY – 135 miles (2h 15m)
Search for your flights using the best search engine, Skyscanner. We love this platform because it compares prices on all flight platforms to find you the best deal.
The same goes for renting a car when you get to a New York airport. Get a benchmark price using Rental Cars then see if you can beat it.
If you are flying into the Finger Lakes region, you might like to read our expert tips on how to find cheap flights.
Here are the closest airports to Green Lakes State Park:
- Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) – 16 miles (22m)
- Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) – 100 miles (1h 30m)
- Elmira / Corning Regional Airport (ELM) – 115 miles (2h)
Green Lakes State Park Entrance Fees
Visitors do not pay an entrance fee and you do not need a reservation to gain entry into Green Lakes State Park, which means you do not have to pay anything to hike or swim in this area.
But like many of the best New York State Parks, there is a vehicle usage fee to park your car. So while Green Lakes is technically free to enter, you will pay US$ 10 for parking your vehicle.
The Green Lakes entry fee is collected from Memorial Day (end of May) through Labor Day (beginning of September) and the park is open year round from dawn to dusk.
Parking At Green Lakes State Park
You will find the main parking lot for Green Lakes in the northern section of the park. The good news is that the parking lot is very large with room for hundreds of cars so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a spot.
We like Green Lakes because the park is set up well so once you have parked, you will have direct access to the beach, park office, community bathhouse, playgrounds, picnic tables and the Green Lake Trail.
If you plan to play the golf course at Green Lakes State Park, there is a seperate parking lot you can use which does not require the vehicle fee. However, please only use this lot if you are golfing.
Green Lakes State Park Trails
Hiking is one of main attractions at Green Lakes State Park and there are a total of 20 hiking trails spanning about 15 miles.
The most popular hike at Green Lakes State Park is the Green Lake Trail which is 1.9 miles in length and the Round Lake Trail which is another 0.9 miles.
Hikers often combine these two trails for an epic loop hike around both of the stunning glacial lakes in the park.
Here are the 20 Green Lakes hikes (distances are one way):
- Black Trail (BK) – 0.67 miles
- Brookside Trail (BS) – 0.9 miles
- Deer Run Trail (DR) – 2.5 miles
- Farmers Hill Trail (FH) – 1.4 miles
- Green Lake Trail (GL) – 1.9 miles
- Indian Ovens Loop (IL) – 0.12 miles
- Indian Ovens Trail (IO) – 0.79 miles
- Old Erie Canal Connector (OC) – 0.6 miles
- Old Growth Trail (OG) – 2.9 miles
- Old Growth Connector (OGC) – 0.3 miles
- Overlook Trail (OL) – 1.4 miles
- Powerline Trail (PL) – 1.3 miles
- Rolling Hills (RH) – 1.8 miles
- Rolling Hills Connector (RHC) – 0.1 miles
- Round Lake Trail (RL) – 0.9 miles
- Round Lake Overlook (RLO) – 0.5 miles
- Tween Lakes Trail (TL) – 0.4 miles
- Spruce Ridge Trail (SR) – 2.8 miles
- Vista Trail (VA) – 1.6 miles
- Yellowjacket Spur (YJ) – 0.2 miles
In the winter, Green Lakes also turns into a popular snowshoeing destination with 15 miles of trails that cross-country skiers can use.
Use this Green Lakes State Park trail map here to find new trails.
15 Best Things To Do At Green Lakes State Park
If you are looking for things to do at Green Lakes State Park, there is much more than just hiking. This is a very popular spot for camping because the campsites can handle many large RVs.
Here are 15 things you can do at Green Lakes State Park:
- Look for birds
- Hunt responsibility
- Fish on Green Lake
- Rent a boat or kayak
- Have a BBQ or picnic
- Play a game of disc golf
- Or play a game of real golf
- Go camping or stay in a cabin
- Enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage
- Hike or bike any of the 20 trails
- Have fun on the beach and go swimming
- Stop for a bite to eat at the Beach House
- Snowshoe the cross country trails in winter
- Lets the kids run around on the numerous playgrounds
- Attend one of the many events at Green Lakes (check their Facebook for upcoming events)
You can find more information about a Green Lakes hunting permit here.
If you love birdwatching, use this Green Lakes State Park bird watching checklist to find 170 species of birds!
Green Lake To Round Lake Trail
Let’s take a hike through Green Lakes State Park via the Green Lake Trail first then looping around to the Round Lake Trail back to the main parking lot.
Green Lake To Round Lake Trail Loop distance: 2.80 miles roundtrip
Hiking difficulty rating: Easy
By hiking this loop, you will pass by the main points of interest within Green Lakes State Park.
You can check out the recent comments on AllTrails to see what hikers have recently said about Green Lake To Round Lake Trail hiking conditions.
In the market for a new trail app? Don’t miss our popular round up featuring the best hiking apps for both beginners and pros.
1. Begin At The Beach
We always like to start our hike by walking south past the beach and Tulip Hill heading clockwise around both lakes.
If you start this direction, you will pass by the old administration building, community bathhouse, several picnic tables and the playground at the beginning of your hike.
2. Enjoy The Views Of Green Lake
As you head south along the hiking trail, Green Lake will be on your right and be sure to take in the stunning colors of the lake as you walk close to the shore line.
The path along the Green Lake and Round Lake loop is relatively flat with minimal elevation gain so you will often share the trail joggers or runners.
3. Deadman’s Point
As you continue walking along the trail, the first point of interest you will come across is Deadman’s Point. This is a really interesting section of the park so take a moment to enjoy this unique reef.
The submerged reef at Deadman’s Point has been created over hundreds of years as a result of calcium carbonate precipitates from Green Lake’s water in annual whiting events.
Hiking Tip: This is an extremely fragile section of Green Lakes State Park so there is no swimming and no wading out onto the reef. Please explore responsibly and leave no trace.
4. Head Towards Round Lake
The flat dirt path continues to wind along the perimeter of Green Lake until you make it to a wooded area which eventually leads to Round Lake.
When we hiked in April, many of the leaves were still bare from winter, but you can expect beautiful foliage on the trees in both summer and autumn.
5. Shaded Section To Round Lake
Continue walking along the dirt path and you will weave in and out of shaded sections. We like hiking in Green Lakes because you can always find shaded areas if you need protection from the sun.
You will eventually come to a small bridge leading to the left which will lead to both the old pump house and the trail to Round Lake.
Hiking Tip: If you don’t want to complete the entire loop, just head straight around Green Lake to make your way back to the parking lot.
6. Find A Bench At Round Lake
Round Lake is often much quieter compared to Green Lake because it’s not as easily accessible. So if you want to get away from the crowds, beeline it to Round Lake or one of the nearby trails.
Don’t miss taking a photo on one of the benches littered around the shores or Round Lake. This is a great spot to stop and enjoy the scenery or snap a photo for your socials.
7. Loop back Around To Green Lake
After you take in the views of Round Lake, it’s time to make your way back to Green Lake and the beach. The dirt trail is easy to follow as it loops around the lake and leads you back to the shaded section of trees separating these two lakes.
You might have already noticed, but the water in these beautiful lakes is crystal clear so you can see everything surrounding the shorelines including trees, rocks and the very steep drops offs to the bottom!
8. Make Your Way Back To The Beach
You will walk a very similar path along Green Lake before making your way back to the main parking lot and the beach. Depending on when you started your hike, the beach may have filled with visitors.
Now is a great time to grab a spot in the sand, explore more of the park or head into Syracuse to grab a bite to eat after your hike.
What Facilities Are Available At Green Lakes State Park?
The north entrance of the park by the main parking lot has a beach, restrooms, playgrounds, boat rentals, picnic tables, a bathhouse, food concessions and the park office.
If you are looking for a bite to eat, you can grab something at the Beach House which is located in this same area.
But if you want a more substantial meal, you can find plenty of options nearby in Fayetteville and Syracuse (which we cover later in this guide).
Are Dogs Allowed At Green Lakes State Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed at Green Lakes State Park, but there is a two pet maximum at campsites. Pets should be supervised at all times and must be on a leash no more than 6 ft in length.
Proof of rabies vaccination may also be required if asked by park staff. Pets are not permitted on the playgrounds, buildings, golf courses, boardwalks or guarded beaches at Green Lakes.
Can You Swim At Green Lakes State Park?
Yes, swimming is allowed at Green Lakes State Park but only in designated areas. It’s also important to note pets should not enter the water at any point.
The main swimming area includes the sandy public beach located along Green Lake which is the larger of the two lakes in the park.
Swimming hours at Green Lakes State Park are from 11:00am to 7:00pm Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend daily.
Please do not swim anywhere else in Green Lakes State Park including Dead Man’s Point reef for safety reasons as well as to preserve the reef.
Keep in mind the dates and hours are subject to change due to weather, staffing and other environmental concerns. Be sure to contact the park office to check swimming conditions prior to visiting.
Can You Fish At Green Lakes State Park?
Yes, you can fish at Green Lakes State Park, but only on Green Lake outside of swimming area. There is absolutely no fishing on Round Lake and you can not use outside boats for fishing purposes.
In season boat rental rates at Green Lakes State park include:
- Row Boats – $10/hr, $5/30 mins
- Single Kayaks – $10/hr, $5/30 mins
- Tandem Kayaks – $15/hr, $10/30 mins
- Crystal Tandem Kayaks – $20/hr, $15/30 mins
The boathouse typically opens Memorial Day every year and you can contact the park office (315) 637-6111 for more information.
Keep in mind the busiest day are Fridays and weekend so plan to arrive early. There is no reservation system, but there is a waitlist for the boats which you can access in person at the boathouse.
Best Time To Visit Green Lakes State Park
Green Lakes State Park will be extremely busy on weekends between April and October, particularly during holidays.
But since this park spans 1,785 acres, you can usually find enough space to spread out from the crowds. However, the exception to this is the popular swimming area along Green Lake.
Best Time Of Year
The best time of year to visit Green Lakes State Park is in the summer when the weather is ideal for water activities and enjoying the beach.
The last week of September and first week of October is another great time to visit Green Lakes because the weather is perfect for hiking and the fall foliage surrounds the beautiful glacial lakes.
Best Time Of Day
The best time of day to visit Green Lakes State Park depends on what you plan to do in the area, but if you visit in the busy season of summer, you should try to get to the park early in the day.
Arriving early will help you secure a spot on the beach or take advantage of the cooler weather if you plan to hike around Green and Round Lake.
When To Avoid
Expect Green Lakes State Park to be extremely busy on weekends between April and October, particularly holiday weekends. We recommend avoiding the rush between 11:00am – 2:00pm.
You should get to the park early in the day or head to the park in the early afternoon just as the crowds are leaving to make the most of your visit.
Restaurants Near Green Lakes State Park
Green Lakes is only about 10 miles from the hustle and bustle of Syracuse, New York, but you have a few options for food depending on your schedule:
The easiest option would be to eat at the Beach House which is located within Green Lakes State Park. This is a quick and easy solution for those enjoying a day on the beach.
However, there are plenty of restaurants in smaller Fayetteville located directly east of Syracuse or you can head a little further into downtown Syracuse for a bigger selection of restaurants.
Here are top rated restaurants in Fayetteville, NY:
- Avicolli’s Coal Fire – Only coal fire pizza + kitchen in central NY
- Bull and Bear Roadhouse – Comfort food roadhouse style
- J P Mulligan’s Restaurant – Sports Bar with American pub food
- Papa Gallo Mexican Restaurant – Tex-Mex cuisine with happy hour
Here are top rated restaurants in Syracuse, NY:
- Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse – Steak, classic entrees and cocktails
- Dinosaur Bar-B-Que – The best BBQ joint in upstate NY
- Francesca’s Cucina – Extensive Italian menu with garden patio
- Kitty Hoyne’s Irish Pub – Irish cuisine served in an old-world pub
- Otro Cinco – Spanish and Mexican plates with craft beers + wine
- Pastabilities – Homemade pasta dishes and Italian-American fare
Travel Tip: If this is your first time visiting upstate NY, we recommend you stop at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Kristen grew up on this place and it’s one of Mark’s favorite restaurants since moving to the US!
Hotels Near Green Lakes State Park
If you are planning to book a hotel when visiting Green Lakes, your best option will be in Syracuse, but you can also find a few hotel options on the outskirts of the city.
Let’s take a look at some of the best hotel options near Green Lakes State Park:
- Aloft Syracuse Inner Harbor – 12.0 miles in Syracuse
- Embassy Suites by Hilton – 12.0 miles in Syracuse
- Hampton Inn Syracuse Dewitt – 8.0 miles in East Syracuse
- Marriott Syracuse Downtown – 10.0 miles in Syracuse
- The Craftsman Inn & Suites – 4.0 miles in Fayetteville
- The Parkview – 10.0 miles in Syracuse
Green Lakes State Park Camping
There are 135 campsites, 7 cabins and 5 pavilions at Green Lakes State Park. The five pavilions range in price from $150 to $600 and can accommodate 40 to 100 people.
Green Lakes campground is popular with RV owners because campsites have electricity, water, sewer hook ups and dump stations.
Green Lakes Campgrounds
Reservations for campsites can be booked up to 9 months in advance and each site can be booked for up to 2 weeks. Campground season is mid-May through mid-October.
Nightly fees for camping are US$ 18-36/night along with a US$ 7.25 non-refundable registration fee. There is also an additional US $5/night for non-NYS residents.
You can book a Green Lakes State Park campsite here.
Green Lakes Cabins
Cabins are available at Green Lakes between mid-May and mid-October.
There is a 2 night minimum on cabin rentals at Green Lakes and each cabin costs US $108.50/night along with a US$ 7.25 non-refundable registration fee.
Non-NYS residents will pay an additional US $7/night or US $28/week for cabin rentals.
The weekly price for a cabin rental is US $434/week with minimum stays of 7 or 14 days only during peak season (early June to early September).
You can book a Green Lakes State Park Cabin here.
Interactive Map For Green Lakes State Park
Click on our interactive map to move around the area to find all recommended restaurants, hotels and points of interest.
- Dark Green – Hotel recommendations
- Light Red – Restaurant recommendations
- Purple – Points of Interest
You can also access our Green Lakes interactive map via this link here.
Green Lakes State Park FAQ’s
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about Green Lakes State Park in New York.
The best hike at Green Lakes is a combination of the Green Lake and Round Lake Trail which ends up being a 2.80 mile hike with stunning views of both glacial lakes.
Yes, Green Lakes State Park is worth visiting because you can walk around two beautiful glacial lakes, enjoy the beach, rent a boat and even play a round of golf.
There are a total of twenty hiking trails and fifteen miles of cross country skiing trails at Green Lakes.
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We hope this guide to hiking the Green Lakes Loop Trail helps with planning your visit to upstate New York!
Please let us know if you need any help planning your visit to Green Lakes State Park or upstate New York in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.
Their work has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications.