• Do you live near Hinckley Lake?
  • Have you ever wanted to swim or fish on the lake but found that all our beaches are being "privatized"?
  • Are you one of the many that have used beaches around the lake to find one day someone cut them off for use?
  • Are you a teenager who has to swim at a muddy cove because you no longer have a beach?
  • Have you tried walking certain beaches to see "Keep Out" signs posted?
  • Are you a long time citizen of Hinckley that is concerned with what is going on with the lake?
  • Have you tried to contact someone on this matter and only ended up at a dead end?

These and many more questions are being asked by long time citizens of Hinckley Lake. Some of the citizens have lived here their whole life and even may be on their second or third generation of family. One of the great benefits we have had by living near Hinckley Lake is the use of the many beaches that exist on it over the years. Most of the citizens of Hinckley do not live on the lake but have rights to use the lake at any time to swim, fish, kayak, and do many other recreational activities. Unfortunately in the last couple years there have been certain land buyouts above the beaches which have cut off access to those beaches. Some buyers even went as far as to post signs on the beaches that their land overlooks that tell people to keep out or that the beach is private.

Many people are aware that Hinckley is a public lake in that it is state owned and is open for public use, especially to those that live on or near it. But, many may not be aware that the water is not the only public domain but the actual beaches above the water are public as well. This means that people who own land above a beach DO NOT own the beach. Obviously it would be illegal to pass through someones land to access a beach BUT it is not illegal to take an alternate access route to get to a certain beach.

You can access specific sections of this page by clicking one of the links below:
What you need to know
Beaches in question
Information about a possible public beach
Doing your part

Hinckley Lake belongs to all New Yorkers

"When using Hinckley Lake, most residents are respectful of property. It is an unwritten rule that locals will not go where they are not wanted. We see your "posted" signs and we have been victims of your threats. Most residents here are aware of individuals whose goals are to monopolize and privitize as much of Hinckley Lake as possible. Reading the O-D article and editorial that followed, it would seem certain individuals and organizations are willing to share the lake. But residents here know this is not true. These individuals will share the beaches with anyone - that is as long as you can afford to rent one of their places. This debate runs deep here. It involves families, friends, classmates and neighbors. Emotions on this subject run high here. I think we all have to remember the state of New York owns Hinckley Lake, and isn't the state of New York all of us?"

Portion from a letter sent by the Canal Corporation

"...Anyone who has access to canal land or canal waters from land can apply for a permit, which are issued at market rent and contain an array of conditions, including proof of general liability insurance. These permits are 30-day revocable and do afford the upland owners exclusive use of the permit area which is usually established by extending the boundary lines of their upland property down to the high-water mark on the reservoir..." Which means at this time of the year the water is 20+ft from the high water mark that the permit holders do not have control over.

What you need to know

Please be aware that our point is not to make beaches public to just anyone. Our point is to prove that the beaches do not belong to one person but to everyone around them as well. We are not out to make a land owner open up their land for beach access nor are we trying to go against their means. We simply want to prove that they do not own the beaches and that the other locals have rights to them.

What does this mean for the citizens that have been cut off from beach access? This is very good news for those that have been cut off from their rights to use a certain beach. Many of the beaches on the lake have alternate access routes that may require a little extra walking to get to but they are perfectly legal to use. Please be aware that if someone has cut you off from beach access that you should try to talk to them and even show them this information to make them aware. If they become aware of this information they may allow you to use their land to access the beach. If the land owner does not permit you access to a beach then firmly make them aware that you will use the beach anyway by using an alternate access route.

Is there some form of boundary that seperates the owners land from the actual state beach? The answer is yes, but this can be a little tricky to decipher for both the land owner and you. The beach and the actual private land are seperated by the high water mark. The high water mark is an imaginary line and usually it is where the sand ends and the land begins. If you are aware of the lakes high level in the Spring then you are safe to use any of the beach below that after the lake drops. There may be some cases where you are not aware of the high water mark. If this is the case then stay as close to the beach as you can, especially if it is near summer when the lake has fallen at least 10-20 feet. By staying close to the water you are guaranteed not to cross the imaginary line into private property.

What if the land owner threatens to call the police? It is always smart to brief the land owner of this information before any other form of authority gets involved. If the land owner does not comply to this information then simply state it to the authorities that they may contact. Remember, you are not breaking any laws by using a public beach as long as you keep it clean and keep things peaceful. If you are having a party with alcohol and happen to be creating a lot of noise then you can be thrown out of a beach by authorities for breaking certain safety laws that they are allowed to impend on you. The rule of thumb is to be calm and informative to the authorities so that the matter can be settled properly.

Can I put a dock up at the land or use the dock that may be there for a boat? In technicality, yes. But you should not abuse your privelage to the beach by doing things such as docking a boat, etc. Unfortunately, anything left on the water be it a boat or a dock is not the responsibility of the state. Boats have to be monitored by the owner and if you do not live above the beach to monitor it then you could be creating problems for yourself. Plus, if the owner of the land above the beach does not want you to even use the beach chances are they definately will not be wanting you to dock boats there. That could also be a problem for you because your property could be damaged. Also, there are supposed to be fees paid to the state for docks on the water and boats are not to be launched at a non-state boat launch.

I was told by a land owner that they had a lease, what is that? A lease does not mean that the owner of the land above the beach owns the actual beach. A lease is an overly expensive payment to the Canal Corp. that allows the land owner to use the land above the beach that may not be theirs for their own means. The lease also allows boats and docks to be put up on the water exclusively by the land owner. The lease DOES NOT cover the beach and ends at the high water mark. If a land owner tells you to leave the property because they lease the beach, simply tell them their overly expensive lease does not mean they own the beach. If you lease a car does that mean you own that car? No.

What does this mean for non-citizens? One of the good things from the recent land buyouts have been the closing of access to beaches from out of towners. There is a state run beach as well as a public camp ground that is open during the summer for people to use if they want to spend a weekend at Hinckley lake and the citizens gladly welcome them. There are still some beaches along 365 that out of towners use that they really shouldn't. The information presented does not apply to non-citizens even though they technically have a right because there is no rule that says they can't. If you, as a citizen of Hinckley, wish to bring friends or relatives from out of town to a beach then you have the right.

What about the Island, is that covered as well? The Island is 100% public and you have a right to camp out at it anytime you wish. Unfortunately, people do not keep the Island clean when they use it, please keep it clean if you do.

Does this mean any beach on the lake can be used? There are some locations on the lake and on the west canada creek where you are completely forbidden to access. If there are signs posted from the New York State water or power authorities above a location then you are not allowed to access it. You are also not to swim or boat near the dam. Trails End and the state park are also monitored state beaches so you should not use them without permission. Other than that you are fine to use any other locations around the lake.

With this information, what do I do now? Well so far the summer has been quite hot, so, if I were you I would throw my bathing suit on and go to the beach. Don't forget the drinks, chairs, and the towels!

No one owns a beach!!!

Below are some of the beaches/access points that have been cut off with ways to access them. Any beach that is listed is there because of one or more complaints against it. The complaints could be from the land owner throwing people out, posted signs on the beach, fences/gates on the beach, or any other type of notice that restricts them. If there is a beach you think should be added please notify us immediately and we will add. Please be aware that the map below is a rough outline and there may be some slight errors in exact locations of each beach. Also be aware that the green key states public access beaches, which means the beaches are not private, not that the beaches are open to anyone.

Click to enlarge

Cookingham (Topers) Beach: This beach used to be a host to a lot of out of towners and it is good to pass it everyday and see it clean and rid of unauthorized beachgoers. This beach is one of the best on the lake to swim in or to just picnic. Access to the beach has been cut off via the front entrance but you can access it through the adjacent cove. If you take the guard rails down to the water line and then walk directly to the beach you are safe. We cannot state the owners of the land above the beach but if you know them you can ask if you can use the main entrance. The land owners stated that the land was leased from the Canal, according to our research the lease that they hold means nothing when it comes to ownership of land. We want to make it clear to these land owners that you do not own the beach!

Bailey's Beach: Bailey's beach used to be the primary beach used by residents of the trailer park until the trailer park was bought out. The new owner of the park closed the beach off to all people and posted the land. The beach is quite large and incorporates many campers during holidays such as the 4th of July. We assume that these campers know someone in order to gain access the beach since there are only two roadways into the beach and they are on private land. Local kids have complained because they have been denied access to the beach for camping any swimming. Pictures soon.

Price's Beach (Boaters Beach): This beach is large and great to bring a boat to and just relax. It is adjacent to the state park in the Grant cove. It's access is primarily limited only from the lake even though there are trails leading in from Grant road. There have been no posted signs on any of the beach or trail leading into it. There have been complaints of garbage left behind on the beach. The beach extends all the way to the end of the sand mark.

First Beach: This beach is located right next to the dam and boat launch and has been under pressure lately because of the many out of towners who come and use it. Unfortunately, the little land above the beach is all state land so it is hard to control who can and cannot access the beach. The beach is very nice to use with a slight drop off to it for swimmers. The beach is easily accessible and you can park at the dam if you do not wish to walk. There have been complaints by people who are saying people are throwing them off the beach. There have also been some rumors that people have been getting parking tickets when parking across from the beach on 365. This beach has not been shut down as some have been saying.

Mud Cove: This cove extends all the way to 365 and really is not a good place to swim but rather a great place to fish. Recently the land above and around it was bought out and multiple posted signs were placed. Some of the locals near the cove like to dock boats there and have way before the land was bought out. Legal access to the cove is quite easy when the lake drops via the front guard rail entrance. Simply walk down to the pipe from 365 and you are set. Pictures soon.

Pert's Beach (Halpins): This beach has always been used by people that live near it for many years. Recently with the expansion of Camp Northwood and certain land buyouts the beach has been hard to access from the main trail entrance. The beach is great because it is an inset cove that keeps things private from the actual lake and it is great for camping out. The accessibility of this beach is a little harder than most but it can still be accessed by walking in from another point. Locals have complained that they have been thrown out by an upper land owner.

Dousharm's: This beach is inset from 365 and all access to it from the main entrance have been cut off. The land above it has been cleaned up and is posted. The beach is located before Price's beach across from the cove. The beach has been used by the locals for many years until they found their rights where cut off. If you take the open cove and walk the shore you can access the beach although you may get muddy when the lake is high. Local residents have complained for being thrown off the beach. Pictures soon.

More coming soon!!

Public beach on 365...What's the catch?

Certain people are attempting to work with certain state agencies to create a public beach, much like that of the state park, on the 365 side of the lake. All of a sudden they want to do this after locals have been complaining of losing their beach access. There are, of course, some problems with this so called public beach and we will attempt to outline them below:

Whats the real reason for a public beach? Sure it would be great to have a public beach on Rt. 365 for those that do not want to travel to the other side of the lake on the backroads that can easily get someone lost. In reality a public access beach would be created soley to shut us up. Think about it, the people who want to privitize the lake have their own lakefront beaches, why would they ever want to have a public beach? The most obvious answer is to shut up the locals that have had their beaches taken away from them.

Who would oversee the operation of the public beach? They talks about a controlled public beach, but who shall control it? Most likely they would want to control the public beach as well as attempt to make profit off of it, just like all the other beaches they have. With the control comes their ability to monitor what goes on at the beach, the fees to access the beach, and basically everything else about the beach. We are not stupid.

Where would this public beach be created anyway? This question has been through not only our minds but the minds of these people who already have their own beachfronts as well. They have no clue where to put a public access beach and since they do not want to give any of their precious beaches up it looks like they are SOL. There is no viable place to have a public beach that is free for them to use and even if there was there needs to be plenty of land for parking and buildings and such.

Conclusions: This is obviously a diversion to shut the locals up and it will not work. There will be no public beach on 365 because we do not support it. So it looks like they will have to reconsider letting us use our beaches again.


We wouldn't make things such a big deal if we didn't know what we were talking about. Below are the websites and references that we used to retrieve this vital information. Please read these carefully and print them out to show land owners who may be cutting you off from beach access. More coming soon.

The Public Water Front - http://nyswaterfronts.com/waterfront_public.asp - This site gives detail about your rights to use beaches. Beaches are considered a public water front.
The public lands and waters of the State offer a significant recreation resource. These recreational resources are an essential part of the character of many shoreline communities.

Public Trust Doctrine - http://nyswaterfronts.com/waterfront_public_trust.asp - This site explains the doctrine that you and me are entitled under.
"The Public Trust Doctrine provides that public trust lands, waters, and living resources in a State are held by the State in trust for the benefit of all of the people, and establishes the right of the public to fully enjoy public trust lands, waters and living resources for a wide variety of recognized public uses".

Consolidated Laws For Waterfront Use - http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?cl=39&a=70 - This is a detailed clause that does have some good information within it.

The role of the Public Trust - http://www.braypapers.com/role.html - This site further explains the Public Trust Doctrine.
Provisions which protect the public interest in such lands and waters for purposes of commerce, navigation, fishing, hunting, bathing, recreation and access to the lands and waters of the state, and otherwise encourage increased public access to the canal through the establishment of parks, scenic by ways and recreational trails on the canal system. Such provisions shall ensure the public safety

There are more resources such as high water maps and dock fee information available at the county office buildings. We will be retrieving that information and will post as soon as possible.

Doing your part...

Below are links and e-mail addresses to various organizations and politicians. By sending letters and complaints to these people you are doing your part in being heard.

Canal Corporation: Canal Corp owns the lake and issues the permits for upland land owners. Explain in your letters how certain guidelines are being broke with the permits that people hold. Administrative Headquarters; 200 Southern Blvd., P.O. Box 189; Albany, NY 12201-0189 (518) 436-2700

Raymond A Meier: Mr. Meier is a New York State Senator for the 47th district (Oneida Cty). E-mail him and voice your concerns and the concerns on this site as well. His website is located @ http://www.raymeier.com/

James L. Seward: Mr. Seward is a New York State Senator for the 51st district (Herkimer Cty). E-mail him and voice your concerns and the concerns on this site as well. His website is located @ http://www.senatorjimseward.com/

RoAnn M. Destito: RoAnn Destito is a New York State Assemblywoman for the 116th district (Onedia Cty). E-mail her and voice your concerns and the concerns on this site as well.

Department of Environmental Conservation: The DEC has a big impact on the water quality and wildlife around the lake. If you feel there is an impact on water quality or the wildlife around an area or beach then E-mail them with the concerns.

More coming soon....

This site was created by the Citizens of Hinckley Lake. If you have any questions regarding the information provided above please e-mail hinckleylake@gmail.com .