Hemlock Lake, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

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

Hemlock Lake, at just 7 miles long and a half mile wide, is one of New York’s smallest Finger Lakes, and one of two reserved for supplying water to the City of Rochester. The 1,800-acre reservoir is located in southeast Livingston County, just 25 miles south of Rochester, and serves as a quiet example of how the New York lake country used to be: with most of its shoreline wholly undeveloped, the unassuming lake allows its happy visitors to enjoy many peaceful days and nights.

More than 100 years ago, Hemlock Lake resembled other Finger Lakes, bustling with the energy and activity of summer vacationers and part-time residents. In 1872, the City of Rochester began plans to utilize both Canadice and Hemlock Lakes as a water supply, and began purchasing and knocking down the lakes’ many cottages. The City owned Hemlock Lake and much of its surrounding lands until 2010, when the New York Department of Environmental Conservation purchased Hemlock Lake and Canadice Lake from the City. The result of Rochester’s preparations and care, in addition to a steady water supply, are two pristine, beautiful sister lakes that feel like a step back in time.

The City of Rochester’s strict regulations,, such as stipulating that boats may not exceed 16 feet in length and their motors must be 10 horsepower or less, have helped to maintain water quality and a peaceful environment. Today, visitors enjoy nature in its truest state, where afternoon entertainment is provided by chirping birds and lapping waves, and evening’s only night lights are provided by the stars.

In such an idyllic setting, boating is one of Hemlock Lake’s favorite activities. For a day on the lake, take your motor boat, kayak, or canoe out onto the reservoir’s 1,800 acres, and prepare for an active afternoon spent sunbathing, nature watching, and hiking. While out on the lake, drink in the quiet shores, blue New York sky, and peaceful surroundings, keeping your eyes and ears open for calling birds, playful squirrels, and waterfowl families. When you’re ready to head back to land, Lake Hemlock’s pristine, undeveloped shoreline is home to a thousand perfect places to land your boat. The east and west sides are bordered by rolling hills, while the southern end is home to wetlands and wildlife.

Lake Hemlock’s quiet surroundings also offer an ideal fishing experience. Anglers of all ages and experience love the lake for its gently lapping waters, general privacy, lack of loud motor boats, and active fish population. One of the reservoir’s prized catches is land-locked salmon, which promises to give you a run for your money and a tasty dinner. In addition to the salmon, Lake Hemlock is also home to brown trout, lake trout, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, rock bass, smallmouth bass, white crappie, and yellow perch. Keep in mind that to visit Lake Hemlock, you will need to carry your Watershed Visitor Permit with you at all times. The permit can be accessed online or at any park kiosk.

Surprisingly, one of Hemlock Lake’s most alluring promises is that of its land activities. Spring and summer are filled with emerald green trees and rolling mountains, easily on par with the beauty of their neighboring Adirondacks and Canadian wilderness. Hikes through the area are famous, affording breathtaking views and startling panoramas, perfect for nature hikers and photographers. In fall, Hemlock Lake’s green countryside goes golden with color, as summer heat gives way to the crisp scent of autumn. Visit the lake during this special time, and experience the magic of red, orange, and golden leaves reflected on the lake’s mirrored surface.

Hemlock Lake is special place for nature lovers, anglers, and those hoping to get away from life’s daily chores. While away your time paddling a boat, fishing for dinner, or simply drinking in the sun, and you’ll soon know the definition of satisfied.

Things to do at Hemlock Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Hemlock Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • White Crappie
  • Yellow Perch

Hemlock Lake Photo Gallery

Hemlock Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Surface Area: 1,800 acres

Shoreline Length: 17 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 905 feet

Average Depth: 45 feet

Maximum Depth: 91 feet

Water Volume: 88,997 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1965

Water Residence Time: 2 years

Drainage Area: 43 sq. miles

Trophic State: Ogliomesotrophic

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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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