Cayuga Lake, New York, USA

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.

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

Cayuga Lake Photo Gallery

Cayuga Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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