A Visit to Onondaga Lake Park Can Open Your Eyes

May 14, 2014

If you've lived in the Syracuse area since the 1980s, it may never have crossed your mind to pull into the park that borders Onondaga Lake over there on the Liverpool side. Too many memories of chemical dumps when the Allied factory used to churn out its product in the big plant on the shore, right?

If you're moved to the Syracuse area since but only driven past the ugly shore on the Geddes highway side, it may have crossed your mind that nobody ever would want to do anything of worth near that thing.

I come here today to change your mind with some descriptive words and plenty of pictures.

Onondaga Lake Park is a great place to park and get out of the car in the warm months.

On this warm and sunny Saturday past, I took my beloved rescue dog, Ellie B, aka Dogamous Pyle. There were plenty of other pooches enjoying the day on their leashes.

Here's what we saw in about one hour of walking and looking.

This place has plenty of Holy Cow factor.

A playland for children. The youngsters were out in force, swinging, sliding, climbing, as adults supervised. On an adjacent grassy field, young players ran around orange cones dribbling soccer balls with their feet.

A playland for bigger people. A skate park is equipped with concrete bends and rises and jumps to keep boarders in the teens and older busy creating, practicing, showing off. On this day, one many races and soared and allowed me to take his picture.

A walking trail. This is the path that is closest to the shoreline. People stroll it by themselves, or they walk slowly with their dogs, or they walk quickly for exercise. 

A fitness trail. This is the path furthest from the shoreline. It is the choice for cyclists, roller-bladers and runners. Look hard and you'll see groups of four, five or more pedaling hard on an odd-looking contraption that's available to rent at the main building. More traditional cycles can be rented there, too. It's always wise to keep eyes open on the path, because it's also used by the park's tram, available to those who want to see the sights and use the facilities but choose not to walk.

A marina. This early in the season, the slips were not full of boats, but there were boats ready to be taken out into the lake. Big, nice boats. Boats that you'd see on bodies of water with much nicer reputations than our little Onondaga Lake. There is a cottage that rents canoes, rowboats and kayaks by day. The worker said the rentals start at Memorial Day.

Pretty houses. People like to live overlooking this lake. And they take great care of their backyards. There are no barriers between walkers and a view looking back up the hill at the other side of life.

A party that could be. The multi-colored building that sits off the corner of the Onondaga Lake Park property toward the village of Liverpool always looks so inviting, like a bar and restaurant complex you'd spot in a tropical climate. It also always looks closed up tighter than a drum. A sign Saturday said The Barking Gull will be opening to the public. Its website says it is owned by the folks who own The Retreat up the road, and is available for special events of 50 or more people.

A party that is. Right next door, a band is rocking on the built-up outdoor deck of the Blue Point Brewing Company. The deck is full of folks eating and drinking and enjoying the afternoon music, including one group wearing matching tie-dyed T-shirts.

The Salt Museum. The grounds outside look well-maintained, and there's got to be plenty in the doors that explain just why Syracuse carries the nickname of The Salt City. Curious, are you? This is just a toe in the water regarding the warm weather allure of Onondaga Lake Park and its sister on the western end, Willow Bay Park.

More information can be found at OnondagaCountyParks.com.

What do you like best about Onondaga Lake Park? What  is the longest distance you have walked
along the trail? Biked? Roller-bladed? Have you ever boated in the lake