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The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

How much do you know about the Finger Lakes Region? Try these “Fast Facts” on for size and see what sparks your interest. Then keep browsing our site to dive deeper and learn more.

The Lakes

The eleven pristine Finger Lakes are glacial formations shaped during the Pleistocene Ice Age, the most recent ice age in our planet’s history. But if you go by Native American legend, a different story is told. One of a Great Spirit who blessed this land with his hands, leaving the shape of his fingers behind. Either way you tell it, each lake is different and unique in its own right. In alphabetical order:

Canadice Lake

Elevation: 1096 feet

Area: 649 acres

Length: 3 miles

Maximum width: 0.3 miles

Maximum depth: 95 feet

Thermocline: about 30 feet

Canadice Lake is free of development and has the highest elevation. Despite being the shortest of the lakes, at just under 4 miles long, the Native American translation of Canadice Lake is “Long Lake.”

Canandaigua Lake

Elevation: 688 feet
Area: 10,558 acres
Length: 15.5 miles
Maximum width: 1.5 miles
Maximum depth: 276 feet
Thermocline: about 35 feet

The fourth largest of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua Lake is a popular spot for boating and swimming. Its name comes Canandaigua Lake’s City Pier is a historic treasure with its picturesque boathouses looking out towards Squaw Island, the Finger Lakes’ smallest island.

Cayuga Lake

Elevation: 381 feet
Area: 42,956 acres
Shoreline Length: 106 miles
Length: 38 miles
Maximum Width: 3.5 miles
Maximum Depth: 435 feet
Mean Depth: 181 feet
Thermocline: about 70 feet

At just under 40 miles, Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes and clocks in at about 435 feet deep. It is home to Frontenac Island, one of only two small islands in the Finger Lakes, and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.

Conesus Lake

Elevation: 818 feet
Area: 3,420 acres
Length: 8 miles
Maximum width: 1 miles
Maximum depth: 66 feet
Thermocline: about 30 feet

The westernmost lake of the Finger Lakes, located in Livingston County. This lake is eight miles long and is a popular summer spot for swimming, boating, fishing and viewing fireworks for the Fourth of July.

Hemlock Lake

Elevation: 905 feet
Area: 1,800 acres
Length: 7 miles
Maximum width: 0.5 miles
Maximum depth: 91 feet
Thermocline: about 30 feet

The most undeveloped and pristine of the Finger Lakes, Hemlock Lake is preserved in its natural state. It is the only Finger Lake that was not named by the local Native Americans. 

Honeoye Lake

Elevation: 804 feet
Area: 1,772 acres
Length: 4.5 miles
Maximum width: 0.8 miles
Maximum depth: 30 feet

Honeoye Lake is the shallowest of the Finger Lakes, reaching just 30 feet at its deepest point. 

Keuka Lake

Elevation: 715 feet
Area: 11,584 acres
Length: 19.6 miles
Maximum width: 1.9 miles
Maximum depth: 183 feet
Thermocline: between 30-35 feet

The third largest lake, Keuka Lake naturally resembles the letter “Y,” earning it the nickname “crooked lake.” It is the only lake in the country, and one of a few in the world, that runs both north and south. Here you will find the Keuka Lake Wine Trail. 

Otisco Lake

Elevation: 787 feet
Area: 1,877 acres
Shoreline Length: 15 miles
Length: 5.4 miles
Maximum Width: 0.75 miles
Maximum Depth: 76 feet
Mean Depth: 34 feet (north of causeway) and 6 feet (south of causeway)

The easternmost Finger Lake, Otisco Lake is used for public drinking water.

Owasco Lake

Elevation: 712 feet
Area: 6,665 acres
Shoreline Length: 27 miles
Length: 11.1 miles
Maximum Width: 1.3 miles
Maximum Depth: 177 feet
Mean Depth: 97 feet
Thermocline: about 35 feet

Owasco Lake is 11 miles in length, making it the sixth largest of Finger Lake. It is home to both a cold water and warm water fishery, and is a popular place for swimming in the summer due to its shallow waters. 

Seneca Lake

Elevation: 445 feet
Area: 43,343 acres
Length: 38 miles
Maximum width: approx 3 miles
Maximum depth: 618 feet
Thermocline: 60 to 125 feet

The deepest of the Finger Lakes, bottoming out at over 600 feet, and the largest by volume. Seneca Lake is known as the Lake Trout Capital of the World and is home to the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. 

Skaneateles Lake

Elevation: 863 feet
Area: 8,960 acres
Shoreline Length: 34 miles
Length: 16 miles
Maximum Width: 1.5 miles
Maximum Depth: 300 feet
Mean Depth: 145 feet
Thermocline: about 35 feet

Pronounced Skan-ee-at-e-les. With its strikingly blue water, Skaneateles Lake is ranked among the cleanest lakes in America.


The Region

Go beyond the lakes and you’ll find a whole region full of fun and interesting facts. Some of our favorite must-knows and truthful tidbits include:

The Finger Lakes wine region is world-renowned, most recognized for its cool climate white wines, particularly Riesling and Gewurztraminer. One count says there are up to 130 wineries in the area.

Craft beer and beverages have been making a home here too. The Finger Lakes Beer Trail notes over 80 breweries, cideries, and distilleries in the region (with more opening up every year!), while the ROC/FLX Craft Beverage Trail spans 4 counties – Ontario, Monroe, Wayne and Livingston.

New York is the third largest apple producing state in the USA, and Wayne County is the largest apple producing region in the state. It hosts an annual Apple Tasting Tour every year.

The lakes aren’t the only evidence of the region’s glacial history – the rolling hills, valleys and gorges are too. Chimney Bluffs State Park along Lake Ontario is a perfect example of the natural beauty found here. The park features drumlins, a group of compacted clay spikes molded by past glacial action.

Seneca Falls, NY lies near Cayuga Lake and is known as the birthplace of the Seneca Falls Women’s Suffrage movement.

Two of the three major cities in Upstate New York, Rochester and Syracuse, act as bookends for the Finger Lakes region.

Did you know? It’s possible to circumnavigate the globe by starting in Seneca Lake. The existing canal system connects the lake to the Atlantic Ocean!