Lawson Lake County Park lies on the eastern escarpment of the Helderberg Plateau. The surficial geology is a result of a glacial movement that occurred 12,000 years ago, forming the “U” shape of Lawson Lake valley. When the glaciers retreated, a large isolated block of ice was left behind, deepening and forming the depression which resulted in the formation of the lake. Areas of exposed bedrock and shallow soil cover with rock outcrops were left on steep slopes, while the valley bottom has somewhat deeper gravelly loam soils. A clayey loam till is found mostly in the bedrock areas. There are also large wetland areas to the north and south of the lake.
Lawson Lake is totally surrounded by bedrock from the Middle Devonian Hamilton Group. The underlying bedrock geology is mix of shale (Marcellus) areas and Hamilton sandstone/shale. The alternating hardness of the Hamilton sandstone/shale forms the intermittent waterfalls in the streams flowing into the lake.
With the exception of small cleared areas near the lake and in front of Waldman Lodge, the park is covered by densely wooded second growth forest types and heavily vegetated swamps and wet meadows. In some of the wooded areas you will find stands of hemlock, white pine, mixed hardwoods and conifers. The mountaintops and ledges contain mixed oak with some juniper, red cedar, and blueberry. There are also several protected fern species throughout the park.
This varied landscape provides habitat for a wide variety of animal species. The forests attract a large variety of woodland birds such as Blue Jay, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Cardinal, warblers, vireos, Wood Thrush, Great Horned Owl, Northern Flicker and woodpeckers.
Many mammals also make their home in these woods including opossum, red fox, porcupine, raccoon, beaver, gray squirrel, Eastern chipmunk, and white-tailed deer. While not common, bear and bobcat have been documented on the property as well.
The lake itself also supports a variety of life. Fish commonly found in lake include largemouth bass, black crappie, brown bullhead, pumpkinseed, bluegill and golden shiners. The lake also attracts many bird species including green heron, belted kingfisher, wood duck, and great blue heron. In addition, the lake, surrounding wetlands, and tributary streams support a variety of amphibians and reptiles. Among the species documented are American toad, bull frog, green frog, leopard frog, spotted salamander, red backed salamander, painted turtle and snapping turtle.