Photo: Bill Hecht

Otisco Lake Preserve

With over 1,300 feet of wild shoreline on the west side of Otisco Lake, the Otisco Lake Preserve is the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s first conservation area in the watershed.  It provides prime habitat for Bald Eagles and a hiking trail for rare public lakeshore access.  The Otisco Lake Preserve is dedicated to Anneke and Thijs Wittink.

Natural History

Several cascading streams flow through the 36-acre preserve and into the lake below.  A hiking trail passes through mature forest and descends steeply to the water’s edge.  Along the lake’s shore, visitors will find a flat point flanked by rugged shale cliffs.  Small fossils can be seen here in the surrounding streambeds and cliffs.  Concretions, curious round rocks formed from minerals, can also be found embedded in and eroded from the shale.

This preserve provides prime habitat for Bald Eagles and a variety of water birds.  Ruffed grouse are also frequent visitors to the hillsides.  Conserving this land protects Otisco Lake’s water quality and scenic character, and offers an important outdoor recreational opportunity with rare public access to the lake.

This preserve may close seasonally to protect nesting raptors.

All dogs must be on a leash and kept in full control by their owners. Please do not allow your dog to chase wildlife or intimidate other visitors.

Be prepared for a steep climb up from the lake with a 400-foot elevation gain.

Recent History

The land that now forms the Otisco Lake Preserve was formerly owned by the Stopyro family whose grandfather farmed the property as far back as the 1920s.  The Land Trust was able to acquire the site in 2015 due to a generous gift from an anonymous donor and broad support from the community.   Since then, FLLT has added a parking area with an interpretive kiosk, and a half-mile hiking trail with stairs leading to the shore, to enhance public access to the site.

Land Acknowledgment

The Finger Lakes Land Trust recognizes that our nature preserves exist on the homeland of the Haudenosaunee. We hope to honor indigenous peoples’ ongoing relationship with the land by conserving wild places forever.

Public Use

Please see our public use policies for recreational activities on nature preserves.

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Go Finger Lakes is the free web site created by the Finger Lakes Land Trust to promote recreation and conservation. Use the interactive map of 50+ hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, and outdoor adventure destinations across the region!


From Skaneateles, turn east onto U.S. Route 20 and follow for approx. half a mile to turn right onto New York State Route 41 south. Take Route 41 for 5.5 miles and turn left onto Eibert Road/New York State Route 174 east in the hamlet of Borodino. After 2 miles, turn right onto Willowdale Road. Continue south on Willowdale Road for approx. 3 miles to the preserve entrance on your left.