Finger Lakes, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Finger Lakes -

The Finger Lakes Region of New York is one of the nation’s favorite recreation and vacation destinations. The series of eleven long, narrow lakes are the result of ancient small lakes and stream valleys re-carved by the last glacier to cover the area. Lying north to south, these unique parallel lakes range in depth from 30 feet to over 600 feet. A total of 385 miles of shoreline encompassing 133,480 acres of water surface serve to moderate the temperature of the entire region. This has allowed the Finger Lakes Region to develop a major grape growing industry. The region includes over 100 wineries, making it the largest concentration of wineries in the United States outside of the Napa Valley.

Several of the Finger Lakes are heavily populated with seasonal cottages and year-round homes, while others are city-owned water supply reservoirs with no shoreline development. All support excellent fishing and all allow some public access.

Eleven lakes make up the official Finger Lakes, although some people include other lakes in the region. The eleven ‘official’ lakes, from largest to smallest, are:

1. Seneca Lake is the largest Finger Lake with 43,243 acres. Seneca Lake State Park offers a swimming beach, fishing, boat rentals, two marinas with slips and a unique water park called a ‘Sprayground’, where random water jets drench delighted children. The trout fishing is excellent. Boaters, canoeists and kayakers can navigate four locks on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, a 12-mile waterway that connects Seneca with Cayuga Lake. Visitors enjoy hiking and biking along the Canalway Trail.

2. Cayuga Lake is the second largest Finger Lake with 42,956 acres. The Allan H. Treman State Marine Park is one of the largest inland marinas in New York, offering visitors a marina, boat launch, dockage, pump out station, fishing pier, picnic tables and playing fields. The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, hugs the north end of the lake. Cayuga Lake State Park offers beaches, campsites, cabins, and shore fishing. The Cayuga Wine Trail, visiting 16 wineries, winds around the lake. The Cayuga-Seneca Canal along the Seneca River provides boating, canoeing, and kayaking opportunities. Visitors can also hike and bike along the Canalway Trail.

3. Keuka Lake (11,584 acres) is a Y-shaped lake once nicknamed Crooked Lake. Keuka Lake is the only Finger Lake that empties into another Finger Lake (Seneca Lake). Keuka Lake State Park provides a marina, boat rental, hiking, and fishing.

4. Canandaigua Lake (10,553 acres) is Iroquois for “chosen spot.” Canandaigua Lake State Marine Park, located in the City of Canandaigua at the north end of the lake, provides boat launch facilities. The lake offers sailing, boating and swimming and is popular with anglers.

5. Skaneateles Lake (8,960 acres) is a public water supply for the City of Syracuse. The lake is a sailing favorite with a sailing club along the shore. A public boat launch and picnic area provide lake access. The quaint town of Skaneateles hugs the north shore and provides a unique blend of amenities, culture, and history.

6. Owasco Lake (6,665 acres) offers many private lakefront homes. A 50-acre wetland known as the Owasco Flats is an important breeding habitat for fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals. Canoeists and kayakers enjoy paddling along the Outlet through the City of Auburn to the Owasco Outlet Dam. Owasco Lake provides more than 70% of the drinking water for Cayuga County.

7. Conesus Lake covers 3,420 acres, but its shallow depths allow it to freeze during winter, inviting ice fishing enthusiasts. Visitors enjoy water skiing, boating and swimming. Public boat launches and public swimming areas with picnic facilities provide access to the lake.

8. Otisco Lake (1,878 acres) is the easternmost of the 11 Finger Lakes. Limited public access provides opportunities for picnicking, boating, and fishing. The lake serves as a water supply to Onondaga County.

9. Hemlock Lake (1,800 acres) supplies water to the City of Rochester. There is no development along the lake shoreline. The city allows boating and fishing via permit for small boats of 10 horsepower or less. The lake offers great fishing, even landlocked salmon, in a quiet, natural setting.

10. Honeoye Lake (1,772 acres) is also a shallow lake that is popular with ice fishermen during winter. Honeoye offers great fishing, a public beach, a boat launch, and a playground.

11. Canadice Lake (649 acres) is the smallest of the famous Finger Lakes and also the highest in elevation. The lake supplies drinking water to the City of Rochester. Although swimming is not permitted in the lake, visitors obtain permits to fish, hike, and enjoy lakeside picnics.

Two other lakes are sometimes included in the Finger Lakes group, although they technically are not a part of this unique formation: Oneida Lake, sometimes called ‘the thumb’ at 51,072 acres, and Cazenovia Lake at 1,184 acres.

This area of New York state receives a large amount of lake-effect snow, thanks to the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario. In winter, the region offers a variety of cross-country skiing trails, snowmobile routes, downhill ski areas, and tobogganing runs.

The river gorges carved by glaciers provide scenic hiking trails, waterfalls and rivers both placid and of white-water quality. The Finger Lakes Region holds 17 state parks, 11 on the water, and a variety of city and county parks along with commercial campgrounds. Farmers markets, historical sites, golf courses and every possible recreational activity can be found in the Finger Lakes Region. Autumn color tours are especially popular, drawing thousands of visitors each fall.

The entire area is well-supplied with vacation rentals and a variety of restaurants, small shops, arts and crafts venues and local festivals. Many of the homes and cottages along the lakes are offered as vacation rentals by the week or month. Bed-and breakfasts and quaint country inns are common in the area. All of the larger towns have hotels and motels catering to lakes visitors. Many visitors choose to locate real estate in the area either as existing housing or to build their own retirement home. The small-acreage farm is in particular demand. So, come take a wine tour or indulge in a trout-fishing week-end. Everything is here to make your Finger Lakes vacation the trip you’ll remember forever. Let forever start soon!

Things to do at Finger Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Tobogganing
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Finger Lakes

  • Salmon
  • Trout

Finger Lakes Photo Gallery

Finger Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 133,480 acres

Shoreline Length: 384 miles

Maximum Depth: 618 feet

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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