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McDonough State Forest
Bowman Lake State Park

Kopac Trail


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The Kopac Trail is in Bowman Lake State Park and McDonough State Forest.  It is used by cross country skiers in the winter and by hikers in the spring, summer and fall.  By utilizing the Kopac Trail, a spur trail to Whaley Lake (panorama above) and the Finger Lakes Trail, you create a pleasant four mile loop hike.  The Kopac Loop Trail is part of the 900+ mile Finger Lakes Trail System.

You can park in the state park, however we recommend to park and start your hike from the Kopac Pond Trail DEC small parking area on Sherman Road.  This signed, small parking area with a kiosk, is located west of the main state park entrance.  HINT... You'll skip the park entry fee if you park here.  This parking area is located in McDonough State Forest.

The DEC parking area on Sherman Road

The Kopac Trail is marked with blue blazes.  The Kopac Pond Trail is an accessible DEC trail that loops 0.2 miles from the parking area and includes a stop at an observation deck on Kopac Pond.  The Kopac Trail technically begins off the Kopac Pond Loop Trail.  You'll see the blue blazes of the Kopac Trail off the DEC trail and the Kopac Trail "split" is immediate. 

Observation Deck on Kopac Pond

This info will have you doing the loop counter clockwise, so veer right on the Kopac Trail at 0.2 miles, after your visit to Kopac Pond.  Cross over an old stone wall and enter Bowman Lake State Park.  The park's lake trail heads north and you'll also cross an old road, which is used for snowmobiling.  At 0.75 miles you'll reach the dam for Bowman Lake and a great view of the lake as well as the park area.

Following the dam along Bowman Lake

At 0.85 miles the Kopac Trail turns left and will soon pass by a picnic table/grill.  Be sure to follow the blue blazes and not the "trail" signs.  The trail will soon follow along the shoreline of Bowman Lake and pass another picnic table.  At 1.0 miles the white blazes of the Finger Lakes Trail comes in from the right.  The FLT and Kopac Trail will coincide briefly.

Kopac Trail coincides with the Finger Lakes Trail briefly

The trail leaves the shoreline.  First you'll travel past the park concession stand on your left and then at 1.15 miles you'll see the main beach on your left.  Soon the trail crosses through the edge of a parking area.  You'll see the familiar yellow Finger Lakes Trail sign as you hike toward the edge of the parking area.  The trail travels past camp site #156 before reaching the split of the Kopac Trail / Finger Lakes Trail at 1.3 miles.  A few feet on the FLT is a mileage sign worth checking out.

Passing camp site 156 in Bowman Lake State Park

The Kopac Trail turns left into the woods.  Soon you'll cross a stream on a footbridge and thereafter the park's lake trail splits left away from the Kopac Trail at 1.5 miles.  Follow the blue blazes as the Kopac Trail ascends as it makes its way further away from Bowman Lake.  This section will be popular with those who enjoy seeing old stone walls as you will encounter many old stone walls. 

Old stone wall along the Kopac Trail

At 2.0 miles the Kopac Trail reaches yet another old stone wall and old road.  The Kopac Trail turns left here.  Going right on the old woods road will take you to the Finger Lakes Trail.  In a few hundred feet the Kopac Trail will cross an old road and use puncheon through a wet area.  At 2.3 miles, as you pass through another wet section on puncheons, reach the junction of the yellow blazed Whaley Lake Trail on your right. 

Approaching Whaley Lake Trail on puncheons

The Whaley Lake Trail leaves the Kopac Trail on puncheons and travels 0.4 miles to Whaley Lake.  Its worth the side trip to the dam to take a break or picnic while enjoying the beauty of the lake.  We saw an eagle soar above us when we visited in April 2010!

Whaley Lake from the earthen dam

The Whaley Lake Trail ends prior to reaching the open area of the earthen dam and there is a wet section leading to the dam.  Its worth making your way to the open area of the dam.  We stopped just in front of the scenic island in the lake at 2.75 miles.  Simply retrace your steps back to the Kopac Trail and turn right toward the "Kopak" Trail sign to continue your loop hike.

Kopac Trail sign near Whaley Lake Trail

The trail comes close to Kopac Creek at 3.75 miles and soon you'll see Kopac Pond through the trees.  Watch for the blue blazes carefully in this area.  At 4.0 miles you'll reach the Kopac Trail split as well as the DEC accessible Kopac Pond Trail.  Follow the ADA trail back to the parking area at 4.1 miles.  Except for the wet and muddy sections (it is mud season), this hike should be enjoyable for all members of your family.  It is a fairly easy and pleasant hike.  The trail is well marked and is easy to follow for the most part.

Kopac Creek from the ADA trail near the parking area

We have a map, description and video below of this great hike.  Do this hike in the autumn and you'll be rewarded with a fine display of natures colors.

Directions:  NY 23 to Pharsalia.  Take County Route 10 to East Pharsalia.  Turn right onto County Route 8 at the Balsam Inn.  Turn left on Sherman Road.  At weird intersection, veer left to continue on Sherman Road.  The DEC parking area will be on the left. The GPS coordinates are N42 30.841 W75 41.939 for the parking area.

Mile Elevation Kopac Loop Description (includes side trips to Kopac Pond & Whaley Lake)
0.0 1683 feet

Start off Sherman Road and head into forest following the ADA Kopac Pond Trail.

0.05 1686 feet

Veer left on the ADA trail.

0.1 1686 feet

Observation Deck on Kopac Pond

0.2 1686 feet

Turn left on ADA trail, soon reach the "loop split" of the Kopac Trail.  Veer right, follow blue blazes

0.65 1645 feet

Pass through old stone wall.  Enter Bowman Lake State Park.

0.75 1590 feet

Follow dam of Bowman Lake.  Views of lake and park area.

0.85 1595 feet

Trail turns left and passes by a parking area and then picnic table/grill

1.0 1612 feet

The white blazed Finger Lakes Trail comes in from the right.

1.15 1633 feet

Pass by concession stand and then the main beach area on your left.

1.3 1633 feet

Pass by camp site 156 and soon the Kopac Trail turns left as the FLT continues straight.

1.5 1604 feet

Park's lake trail veers left as the Kopac Trail veers right.  Ascend

2.0 1728 feet

Turn left on blue blazed Kopac Trail at stone wall.  Right on old road leads to the FLT.

2.3 1721 feet

Puncheons.  Junction of yellow blazed Whaley Lake Trail on right.  Take Whaley Lake Trail to visit lake

2.73 1742 feet

End of trail.  Continue to open area on dam for best views of Whaley Lake.  Retrace your steps back to Kopac Trail.

3.16 1721 feet

Reach Kopac Trail and turn right.

3.75 1696 feet

Kopac Creek is on your right.  Soon views of Kopac Pond through the trees.

4.00 1686 feet

Reach Kopac split and then ADA trail.  Follow ADA trail back to parking area.

4.13 1683 feet

DEC Parking area.  End of this loop hike.


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