Although we should continue to socially distance ourselves from other people right now, we don’t have to distance ourselves with nature. The Finger Lakes region is home to 11 glacial lakes and one Great Lake, plus plenty of rivers, canals and other bodies of water in between! Can you imagine breathing in the fresh air, listening to the sounds of the birds while viewing these picturesque bodies of water? Take this moment to daydream what the future looks like on the lakes and waterways across the region.
Cayuga Lake is one of the longest and second deepest lakes that the Finger Lakes region has to offer. Perfect for boating, the lake also provides a Blueway Trail safe for non-motorized watercrafts such as kayaks and canoes and even yourself for a safe swim. If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can also follow along the 87-mile loop surrounding Cayuga Lake by driving on their Scenic Byway!
A 19th century steamboat replica called ‘The Canandaigua Lady’ still operates today offering tours of Canandaigua Lake. Taking in the sights of the lake and one of the two islands in the region, Squaw Island, you’ll learn all about the Seneca Indian History and traditions that are still practiced today. It's easy to see why the Native Americans called this beautiful area and body of water “The Chosen Spot."
Located in the heart of Cornell’s campus, Beebe Lake is the home to a peaceful sanctuary. Offering one-mile loop trails perfect for jogging, hiking or simply taking a stroll. You’ll be able to pass picturesque views across the lake, picnic underneath the waterfalls of Hemlock Gorge, and even stumble upon wildflowers in the Botanic Garden area.
Sanford Lake located in the middle of Birdseye Hollow State Forest holds endless opportunities for fun and relaxation. Boating, swimming and sunbathing are at the top of the list for activities to indulge in during the summer. Followed by camping, hiking, biking and even horseback riding, Sanford Lake has it all!
Photo by Malee Oot
Considered to be one of the most unique lakes in the region, Keuka Lake is nicknamed the "Crooked Lake" for its “Y”-shaped body. It's because of its shape, that is Keuka Lake is one of the only lakes in the country, and one of a few in the world, whose water runs both north and south. Where the lake splits off in two different directions sure makes for the perfect picture! Here you can enjoy boating and other water activities, and have access to the wineries along the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.
The Chemung River connects three counties, two states and four other rivers. Oh my! More importantly, the 45-mile winding river connects us with nature. Having numerous boat launches and plenty of dirt roads leading to the water, it’s an easy go-to spot for boating or paddling. The riverside trails are also great for hiking and dog-walking and popularly known for spotting bald eagles.
Photo by Finger Lakes Land Trust
Owasco Lake may just be the place to be this summer! Being one of the shallowest in the region, it warms up fast in the spring months making it perfect for water recreational activities. Along the shoreline you can find two public beaches, numerous hiking trails and place to rent kayaks and SUP. This lake is also known for the abundance of fish swimming around so, don’t forget to pack your bait and poles!
Being the cleanest of the Finger Lakes, the water at Skaneateles Lake is crystal clear and so pure, you can drink it out of your hand! Aside from the usual summer activities of swimming and boating, take some time to experience the local wineries and nearby parks the town has to offer.
The Tioughnioga River is the destination for expert paddlers and challenge seekers. Divided into two branches, East and West, the shallow waters have similar conditions for whitewater paddling. Starting on the east branch, it is a twisty and turning creek flowing past agricultural land. Opening up to the west branch, the water deepens and clears up becoming the perfect spot to slow down and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Photo by Alex Demas USGS
Being one of the smaller and more quieter lakes in the region, Conesus Lake is home to many year-round residents. Also surrounded by many campgrounds, it attracts visitors in the summer months for the endless activities available. Fishing, boating, water skiing and classic summer cookouts are constantly spotted around Conesus Lake.
Lake Ontario is the smallest of all the Great Lakes positioned above the Finger Lakes region touching Monroe, Wayne and Cayuga counties. It is rich in history being the hub for commerce and trade during the 17th and 18th centuries. But, today it is better known for leisure and recreational activities such as boating and fishing. Chimney Bluffs State Park is one of the most dramatic landscapes along Lake Ontario.
Photo by Ken Pamatat
Seneca Lake has so much to offer whether you’re getting out on the water or staying grounded on land! The area is most known for producing award-winning wines by being the perfect growing location for numerous grape varieties. On the water, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and boating are all common activities seen from every angle.
The longest river on the east coast flowing from upstate New York all the way to Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, is the Susquehanna River. This makes it the ideal place for all water activities ranging from boating to kayaking. Alongside the river, it is mostly protected by environmental organizations and agencies who encourage camping and wildlife watching.
A national treasure, for sure! Although being recognized as a history and cultural location, the Erie Canal is still used in many ways today. Boating leisurely can be done by visitors as a great way to enjoy the canal while cyclers and walkers can stroll alongside using one of the Erie Canalway Trails.