Cayuga Lake, New York, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Cayuga Lake.

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Cayuga Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Finger Lakes -

Cayuga Lake, located in western New York, is the second largest Finger Lake in both surface area and volume. Boasting 38.2 miles in length, 1.7 miles in average width, 42,956 surface acres, and a maximum depth of 435 feet, this Finger Lake will give you all the room you need to explore.

The parks and protected land around the lake help to preserve its natural beauty. The Allan H. Treman State Marine Park is located in Ithaca, home of Cornell University, at the south end of the lake. The park is one of the largest inland marinas in New York, offering visitors a marina, boat lauch dockage, pump out station, fishing pier, picnic tables and playing fields. At the north end of the lake sits the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. What began as a migratory bird refuge has grown to become a 7,200 acre preserve of swamps, pools, and water channels that provide a temporary home for migratory birds and a permanent one for the area’s land animals and marine life. All four seasons provide ample opportunity to view animals in their natural habitat. The third park in the area is Cayuga Lake State Park, which lures visitors with its beaches, gentle slopes to the lake, campsites, cabins, and various fishing locales.

Cayuga Lake proudly gives a home to Frontenac Island, one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes chain. And if you have a yen for fishing, the lake and its lone island provide the perfect backdrop for your passion. Frontenac Island is known for its northern pike population and general good fishing conditions. Cayuga Lake boasts lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch, bullhead, bluegill, crappie, rock bass, and others. The lake’s forte, however, is its trout fishing, for which it is well-known. So pack your bait box and your poles, and head up to Cayuga to indulge in a day of fishing while surrounded by beautiful, sparkling waters.

While some may find Cayuga’s waters a bit too cool for comfort, all can enjoy boating around the area. Boat rentals — powerboat, kayak, canoe, and more — are available at the marinas and Cayuga Lake State Park. The lake’s almost 66 square miles beg to be explored. Take a picnic lunch with you and arrange your schedule so you can stop at one of the lake’s several picnic areas, or simply stop your boat and drift a bit as you enjoy the tastes in your mouth and the sun on your skin. If you can pry yourself away from the lake, try some wine tasting along the Cayuga Wine Trail, comprised of 16 wineries around the lake.

The New York State Canal System operates the Cayuga-Seneca Canal along the Seneca River which provides boating, canoeing, and kayaking opportunities. Visitors can also hike and bike along the Canalway Trail. The canal was constructed to connect Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake to the New York State Barge Canal system. Cayuga Lake’s Mud Lock C&S Canal Dam, completed in 1912, improves navigation and prevents flooding and shoreline ice damage. The lake’s water level is drawn down each winter to minimize ice damage and store heavy spring runoff.

If you find yourself lucky enough to visit this lake, don’t be alarmed if you hear what sounds like cannon fire or a sonic boom. Cayuga Lake, like its neighbor Seneca Lake, is one of the few areas in the world to experience the Guns of the Seneca, an aural phenomenon yet to be scientifically explained. To the human ear, the booms sound like distant loud thunder, even when there is not a cloud in the sky. When the early white settlers arrived to the lake, the native Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) told them that the sounds were caused by the Great Spirit in his continuing work to shape the earth. Nowadays, it is said that they could be caused by meteorite impacts, gases escaping from the lake’s surface, earthquakes, and more. Draw your own conclusions or make up your own myths, but whatever you do, try to enjoy this unique experience.

Custom Cayuga Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Cayuga Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • State Park

Fish species found at Cayuga Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Cayuga Lake

The Cayuga Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Cayuga Lake photo gallery

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Cayuga Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 42,956 acres

Shoreline Length: 96 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 382 feet

Average Depth: 182 feet

Maximum Depth: 435 feet

Water Volume: 7,672,208 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 1,572 sq. miles

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