Located less than 10 miles north of Binghamton, New York, you’ll find one of the most beautiful state parks in Central New York: Chenango Valley State Park. This park features many great amenities, including the fantastic Lily Lake Trail.
Chenango Valley State Park is an 1,100-acre park centered around two beautiful lakes that were created by the receding glaciers during the last ice age. Lily Lake is the smaller of the two lakes and features almost no infrastructure and crowds, which allows you to really enjoy the beauty of this spot.
In order to see this area of the park, I decided to hike the Lily Lake Trail, a 1.5-mile hike that encircles the entirety of the lake.
The map for Chenango Valley State Park isn’t overly clear thanks to the many crisscrossing trails in the area, so it might be a bit challenging to figure out where to park for the Lily Lake Trail.
The best parking area is the Tween Lakes Picnic Area on the northern end of the park. It can be found at the following coordinates: 42.217708, -75.837117.
This parking area features a beautiful stone pavilion, but no signs for any hiking trails. However, if you walk behind the left side of the pavilion, you’ll see an unmarked trail heading somewhat steeply downhill.
There is another trail on the right side of the parking area that also leads down to the main trail, but this trail is unmarked at the bottom of the hill, so it can be a bit trickier to find on your way back uphill.
Don’t let the steepness of these initial trails detour you from hiking here. Once you get down to the lake, about 50 feet or so below you, the trail is quite level for the rest of the hike.
Once you get down to the lake, you’ll notice that this trail is marked with a yellow post. This is the only trail marker that you’ll see on your entire hike. That being said, while the trail is totally unmarked, since it simply encircles the lake, it is quite easy to follow. Just make sure you don’t miss the yellow post at the end of your hike.
While it doesn’t really matter which way you go, I opted to hike the trail in a clockwise direction. You could just as easily hike the trail the opposite way, though. As you hike, there are several side trails that branch off away from the lake, but stick near to the lake and you won’t get turned around.
One thing to be aware of when hiking this trail is that bicycles are also allowed here, and during my hike, I encountered a couple of bike riders. While hiking, make sure to keep an ear out for an oncoming bicycle and give them room to pass.
As you hike the Lily Lake Trail, you’ll have incredible views of the lake as the trail passes within feet of the lake’s lapping waters.
True to its name, the lake is covered with thousands of lily pads. I had fun looking out over the lily pads and watching small creatures on them and peering into the water below.
If you hike the trail clockwise, about two-thirds of the way through the hike, the trail briefly goes onto a golf cart path along the edge of the park’s golf course.
While it’s a bit odd to be walking on the edge of a golf course, rest assured that you haven’t left the trail and the peaceful trail picks up again once it enters the woodland. Just stay along the edge of the lake and you can’t miss it.
After about 1.5 miles, the trail returns to your starting point (Remember to look for the yellow pole). At this point, leave the lake and hike the short trail back up the hillside to your vehicle.
Overall, the Lily Lake Trail is a beautiful hike through Chenango Valley State Park in Broome County, NY. While the trail isn’t overly long and is overgrown in a few spots, it’s a nice option for those looking to get out and enjoy this popular park.
While I wouldn’t drive far just to do this trail, it’s great in combination with a visit to the park’s beach, the nearby Animal Adventure Park, or Beer Tree Brewing Company, which is one of my personal favorite breweries in New York.
It’s worth noting before you go that Chenango Valley State Park has a $7 per vehicle admission charge. For more information on the park and for a basic map of the trails here, check out the park’s website.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]