Cornell Botanic Gardens: Beebe Lake

This scenic one-mile loop can be easily walked in about 45 minutes.

Cornell Botanic Gardens: Beebe Lake

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Cornell Botanic Gardens

Tour Information

Beebe Lake is a quiet natural treasure in the heart of this bustling college campus. This tour shares stories of people learning, playing, and preserving within Beebe Lake’s natural landscapes.

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Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Beebe Lake is a preserve of woodlands, wetlands, and open water that supports a rich diversity of plants and animals. The still pools of water below provide habitat for blue flag irises and a variety of frogs and salamanders. Class of 36 Ov... Read more
There are many rich plant communities around Beebe Lake. This lakeshore meadow is ideal for prairie species such as sneezeweed, asters, and blue lobelia. The small island here, called Werly Island, was created in 1986 when gravel and silt w... Read more
This side of Beebe Lake is home to some of the area’s finest examples of old growth trees. Large oaks on the north-facing slope above you are between 180 and 200 years old. Mature sugar maple, beech, hemlock and basswood are also common h... Read more
Beebe Lake has always been a popular place for outdoor recreation on campus. Concrete supports for an old toboggan slide remain near the northeast corner of this building. The slide (shown here) extended down the wooded slope to the lake un... Read more
Students crossing this bridge pass by a dam designed and built by Ezra Cornell years before he founded Cornell University. Look toward Beebe Lake to see the dam, built in 1838 to power a plaster mill owned by Jeremiah Beebe. The power of Fa... Read more
On the downstream side of the bridge, a three story stone building was built into the vertical gorge wall in 1898 and used to conduct experiments on the physical and hydraulic properties of water. It was the largest hydraulics lab in the co... Read more
This storage building was once a dining hall and place for ice skaters to get warm. Formerly known as the Johnny Parson Club, after a professor who built and maintained a skating rink on Beebe Lake. It was also used for Cornell’s hockey t... Read more
“Beebe Beach” was built up with the same dredged materials that created Werly Island in 1986 and is a popular place to enjoy the lake view and launch canoes and kayaks which you can rent through Cornell’s Outdoor Education program. Th... Read more
As you walk the path on this side of the lake, look for signs of ecological restoration. In the past several decades, staff and volunteers have worked hard to remove non-native, invasive plants, including buckthorn, privet, bush honeysuckle... Read more
Beebe Lake is home to hundreds of Eastern hemlock trees. A threat to this lakeshore ecosystem is a small insect known as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. This invasive insect has decimated stands of hemlock trees in forests of Northeastern Unite... Read more
Follow this trail to an overlook in Hemlock Gorge. This gorge formed by Fall Creek, which has carved its path into layers of sedimentary rock millions of years old. At the end of the most recent ice age around 12,000 years ago, glacial-debr... Read more
This scenic bridge honors Colonel Henry Sackett, Cornell student (class of 1875) and a dedicated member of Cornell’s Board of Trustees. He donated a large portion of his personal wealth to Cornell in the 1920’s to build the now iconic t... Read more


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