Lake Lila is located in the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area in Hamilton County. It is a remote, motor-less lake with 24 first-come, first-served camping sites along its shores. It remains a popular wilderness destination for paddlers, campers, and birders and was formerly the site of an expansive Adirondack Great Camp.
From Tupper Lake, proceed on NYS Route 30 south toward Long Lake. About 11 miles outside of town, turn right onto Sabattis Circle Road. Continue for 3 miles to an intersection near Little Tupper Lake. There are a number of signs at this intersection, including a sign for Lake Lila and Little Tupper Lake Headquarters. The sign directs you to the Lake Lila Road. After driving 4.5 miles, take a left onto the Lake Lila access road. Travel for 5.6 miles to reach the Lake Lila parking area. The speed limit is 15 mph.
A high clearance vehicle is helpful on this rough dirt road, but a low clearance vehicle can make it with great care. The canoe carry is three-tenths of a mile from the parking area to the lake.
Lake Lila can be rough in windy conditions, so monitor the weather forecast before any planned outings. Paddlers can also explore Shingle Shanty Brook. It is a scenic, winding brook in boreal habitat. There are several beaver dams across the brook and it requires getting out and pulling your canoe or kayak over.
Fish species present include: brook trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, panfish, perch, smallmouth bass, and bullhead. This is some fine wilderness fishing. Look for panfish around the shallows and islands, and also look out for rocks in these areas. Troll for bass and salmon in the deeper parts of the lake. Jigs tend to work well for this lake, as do simple garden worms for panfish, perch, and brookies.
There is very limited shoreline fishing, so it's best to bring a lightweight boat or have someone to help with the carry.
Paddlers can spend the day or camp at one of the 24 designated sites along the lake and on four islands. There is no permit system, and the campsites are first-come, first-served. Privies are the new, wall-less kind.
The trail to Mount Frederica can be accessed from the western side of Lake Lila. For paddlers, the hike is roughly 3 miles round trip. (From the parking area, the hike is 9 miles round trip on a trail.) It is best to canoe to an open area near campsites 8-9 to pick up the trail. There is a sign at this location for the trail.
There is a nesting pair of Osprey on the lake shore and Common Loons on the lake. The forest surrounding the lake was hard-hit by a 95-mph wind storm several years ago, so getting onshore away from the lake is difficult. The forests surrounding Lake Lila are great for warblers, Black-capped Chickadees, and lots of other birds.
Bikes are allowed on on Lake Lila Access Road, in any season. It is 7.3 miles long, one way, from the intersection with Sabattis Rd. It reaches all the way to the shore.