The Kayak Chronicles

by Darren Caffery



Lake Lila

August 12, 2008


Lake Lila is owned by the State of NY and is located entirely in the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area.  Motors are prohibited on the lake.  Lake Lila is an ideal place for day trips and overnights for both canoes and kayaks. There are 24 on-site wilderness campsites on the lake and camping here is on a "first come, first serve" basis.  Access to Lake Lila requires some work and is a bit of an adventure but it's well worth it. There is a 1/3 mile dirt path portage from the parking area to the launch area.  The path has some hills, in addition to rocks and large roots.  For an extended and even more adventurous paddling exploration, intrepid explorers can paddle (with some portaging) to Little Tupper Lake via Shingle Shanty Brook, Lilypad Pond, Salmon Lake Outlet, Hardigan Pond, and Rock Pond.

We awoke from our campsite to another great day in the Adirondacks. Making an early start, we picked up Joan and Deb at a nearby bed & breakfast and then we all headed over to the Long Lake Diner where we had another hearty breakfast before our planned trip to Lake Lila.  Being aware of the 1/3 mile portage at the Lake, we loaded up on carbs at the diner in anticipation of the extra "muscle work" that would be necessary to transport our kayaks from the parking area to the water.  When we arrived at the parking area, everyone plotted their plans on how they were going to conduct their portage. The portage, as expected, was time consuming and quite an adventure.  The portage took us and our kayaks on a muddy trail and over rocks and large tree roots but between the "kayak wheels" and paddling partners, everyone's kayak made it to the launch area.  The launch area was a small sandy beach with a beautiful view of Frederica Mountain, almost 2.5 miles away in the distance across the lake.
We were all finally in the lake at about 10:15 am, paddling a counterclockwise circuit along the shoreline.  The temperature was in the low 70's with some cloud cover and very little wind.  The shoreline of Lake Lila is dominated by a beautiful landscape of tall white pines, rocks and shrubs with occasional red pine, red maple, mountain maple spruce and northern white cedar.  Some islands on the lake appeared covered with pine and paper birch.  Dense conifer patches and deciduous trees dominate the hillsides of Lake Lila.  The view of the landscape of this lake from the cockpit of my kayak was just spectacular, even with the gray sky and cloud cover.  As we continued to paddle, the sun crept in and out until eventually, the clouds were gone for good.  With the sun shining brightly over this lake paradise, the colors of the trees and sky made the lake come alive with the most vibrant energy. The air was fresh and clean.  As we continued our paddle along the shoreline we observed quite a few beaver lodges.  While passing a small sandy beach area, we chatted with a young man camping with his son.  After about 3.5 miles of paddling, we reached an area where we landed and began to get ready for our hike up Frederica Mountain.
At about 12:30 pm, after a drink and some snacks, Tom, Jean and I donned our hiking shoes and started our trek on the trail leading up Frederica Mountain while the others opted to continue their paddle along the shoreline. After about an hour of hiking through this beautiful tree canopied trail, we arrived at the ledge atop Frederica Mountain. The view from this ledge was spectacular but another short climb to another nearby ledge offered even more of a panoramic view of the distant mountains, lake and shoreline below.  With a little coaxing, Jean joined Tom and I on the other ledge and it was there that we had lunch. It was very peaceful atop the ledge. The beauty of this Adirondack landscape just permeates your spirit in the most exhilarating way.  After lunch, I simply sat on the ledge overlooking Lake Lila for a while and enjoyed the peace, the quiet, the fresh air, and the natural beauty of it all. It was very relaxing.


At about 2 pm we began our hike back down the mountain. In less than an hour, we reached the bottom of the mountain and loaded up our kayaks to continue our exploration along the shoreline. We paddled a nice relaxing pace along the shoreline, observing some more beaver lodges and soaking up lots of sunshine. After about 5.5 miles of paddling, we approached the takeout. The other paddlers had landed before us and the last of them were preparing for the dreaded portage back to the parking lot.  Jean, Tom and I landed a little before 5 pm and after a little stretching, began the portage process.  The portage was certainly a bit more grueling after a 2 mile hike and about 10 miles of paddling.  I worked up quite a sweat but when the kayak was finally loaded and secured on the vehicle, I wiped the sweat from my forehead, took a deep breath, and realized it was another fantastic day in the Tao of Paddling.

I will return to Lake Lila when I can stay longer, at one of the wilderness campsites, and absorb more of the natural beauty.




Raquette Lake & Marion River

Hiking Goodnow Mountain

Little Tupper Lake

Rich Lake

Bog River



Adirondack Forum Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

ReserveAmerica Campground Reservations

Adirondack Park Hamilton County Recreation

William C. Whitney Wilderness Area

Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks  


Adirondack Paddlers Map Best in Tent Camping: New York State

New York State Atlas & Gazetteer

Adirondack Paddlers Guide National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map (#745)

Quiet Water New York: Canoe & Kayak Guide

Adirondack Trails: Northern Region  



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