This Northeastern State Park Has Hidden Gem Lakes The Color Of Caribbean Waters

The Caribbean is famous for its brilliant blue-green waves – but New Yorkers don't have to catch a flight to Barbados to see water this color. Unbelievable as it might seem, a pair of lakes in a central New York state park is a striking and bold green. The park is appropriately named Green Lakes State Park, and it features many hiking trails that take visitors through the woods and along the lakeshores to admire the view and even dip in the water.

While the lakes are this park's most unique aspect, the forest surrounding them is almost as impressive. Most woods on the East Coast feature relatively small trees because they are all young. Settlers chopped many of the grown trees down, and the forests have never returned to how they were before – but not in Green Lakes State Park. There, hikers can explore 13 miles of trails and see trees that have been growing strong for hundreds of years before catching a glimpse of the sparkling green water at the center of this old-growth forest.

What gives these lakes their unique color

There are a few reasons why the water of the Caribbean seems shockingly vibrant, but the most obvious is that it's very shallow compared to most oceans, and the sun's light can reach all the way to the seafloor, where it reflects the white sand and colorful coral. While Green Lakes State Park's lakes might resemble the Caribbean, the secret behind their startling color is very different. In fact, rather than having shallow water, both lakes are extremely deep.

The two lakes, Green Lake and Round Lake, are almost 200 feet deep, creating a strange phenomenon. Both are known as meromictic lakes, which means that the deeper layer of the water never mixes with the parts near the surface. This, combined with the chemical composition of the soil around the lakes, makes them appear to be a deep blue-green. Bizarrely, this also makes the lakes mimic the Caribbean in another way: it appears to have reefs. These structures aren't made of coral, however. In the late spring and early summer, minerals in the lake form strange white structures. While you can't go snorkeling like you would in the Caribbean, this fascinating natural phenomenon is worth a look.

How to see the lakes

For a chance to see New York's little-known green waters hidden in the center of one of the region's oldest forests, visitors will have to travel to Fayetteville, New York, drive to Green Lakes Park Drive, and then make their way to the trail around the lakes. The trailhead can be found at N 43.04925 / W 75.96987. While the park is open all year, the lakes will look their best in the summer when the sun shines. However, some prefer to come in the fall when the autumn foliage is at its most brilliant.

The park rents kayaks and other small boats for around $10 per hour for those hoping to take a boat out on the water. Swimming is also allowed in specific areas but only at certain times of the year, so anyone with their heart set on going into the lakes should call ahead (315-637-6111) to be sure that swimming is allowed during their visit. Cars can be parked in the parking lot for $10, and in the warm weather, it's even possible to spend the night at one of the park's cabins or campsites or rent a tent pavilion with a view of the water for special events.