Clark Reservation State Park

Clark Reservation State Park is a state park in Onondaga County, New York in the USA. The park is in the Town of DeWitt, south of Syracuse. It is the site of an Ice Age riverbed and waterfall; the eroded base of the falls is now a small lake. Hiking trails skirt a half-ring of cliffs surrounding the lake, as well as worn remains of the old river. In addition, the park offers fishing, a nature trail, picnic tables and pavilions, a playground, and recreation programs.

The park is 340 acres (140 ha) in size. It encompasses the cliff, plunge basin and gorge of the ancient waterfall, and a number of secondary ravines and basins. The lake (Glacier or Green lake) is 10 acres (4 ha) in size and 62 feet (20 m) deep. It is one of the few meromictic lakes in the US. The surrounding limestone cliffs are 180 feet (60 m) high.


Before the arrival of the Europeans, the land around the park belonged probably to Onondaga people. In the late 1700s, these areas were divided into Military tracts for soldiers of the Revolutionary War. In 1879 James MacFarlane opened a small resort hotel in the park with wooden stairs down to the hotel. The offerings included picnicking, boating, fishing, croquet and archery. The hotel eventually closed after a few years. The central part of the current park was bought by Mary Clark Thompson in 1915, and given to the public. She named the park after her father Myron H. Clark, a politician in New York. Clark Reservation became a state park in 1926.


Around 10 000 years ago, toward the end of the Wisconsin glaciation, the retreating ice sheet blocked the northern ends of the Onondaga and Butternut valley, forming long glacier lakes. The waterfall was formed when the glacier lake in the current Valley area south of Syracuse drained eastward to the Butternut valley. It has been estimated that the waterfall contained a volume of water greater than the American Falls at Niagara, and that the water flowed for a 2000 year long period. Green Lake occupies the plunge pool of the former waterfall. When the ice retreated further northward, a lower-lying channel (Rock-cut channel) was carved where the interstate 481 is currently located. This led the water flow to cease through Clark Reservation.

Clark Reservation sits astride one of the numerous "Syracuse channels" left by the last ice age, and is perhaps the most dramatic feature. Pumpkin Hollow, about to the east, was carved by similar west-to-east water flows, as were Smoky Hollow (1 mile south of Clark Reservation) and the gorge at Green Lakes State Park.

Clark Reservation State Park Nature Center

The Nature Center offers exhibits about the park's lake and natural history. The Council of Park Friends offers guided hikes from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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