Rushford Lake, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Chautauqua-Allegheny -

Cool breezes and a welcoming expanse of water greet residents and their guests at Rushford Lake. This reservoir in New York’s Chautauqua-Allegheny region has many seasonal cottages and year-round homes along its five-mile shoreline set amid treed slopes. All types of boats, including sailboats, ski boats, pontoons and canoes tie up to the private docks jutting out from the shore. Located 60 miles southeast of Buffalo, Rushford Lake is easily accessible, yet remote enough to maintain a rustic ambience within its quiet neighborhoods.

The lake is ideal for sailing, water skiing, jet skiing, swimming and windsurfing. No boats over 21 feet except for pontoons are permitted on the lake. A gated boat launch site maintained by the Rushford Lake Recreation District allows boat launching for non-residents who pay a fee. However, there are no public parks or beaches along the shoreline. Some of the housing developments provide a park and beach for their residents, and residents may purchase an annual key to the gate for 24-hour access. All property owners have rights to the lake, with back-lot owners in most developments having the right to install docks along portions of the shoreline.

The controlled access is one reason Rushford Lake has not experienced problems with invasive species. Residents’ boats must be registered, and all outside boats are inspected by Rushford Lake Landowners’ Association during open hours. As other lakes in the area have begun to experience unwanted vegetation problems, the lake association and the elected Board have strengthened rules controlling access and zealously monitor water quality.

The clear water holds a good selection of panfish such as yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, smallmouth bass and walleye along with stocked brown and rainbow trout that thrive in the cool deep waters. Shore fishing is allowed near the dam where there is a small boat launch site and picnic area. Ice fishing is not permitted, because the lake is drawn down about 40 feet in winter to protect docks from ice damage.

Allegany County has several well-known scenic tour routes that people enjoy for the spectacular autumn color. Two cycling routes skirt the edges of the lake, and a private campground greets visitors on the southwest end near the Village of Rushford. This area of New York is famous for its extensive snowmobile trails. The area also offers snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. Local streams are excellent trout fisheries, and the Genesee River a few miles to the east offers lovely waterfalls, whitewater rafting and plenty of wildlife viewing. The Town of Caneadea on the Genesee River features numerous local artisans and craftspeople. The famous Finger Lakes are less than an hour away, as are the wineries the area is known for. Antiques and farm markets are found nearly everywhere, and bald eagles are often sighted near the lake.

Rushford Lake didn’t start out as a recreational lake. A dam was built across the junction of Rush Creek and Caneadea Creek in 1927 by Rochester Gas and Electric to generate electricity. The new Caneadea Dam was named for the same Native American word as the creek, and means “where the heavens rest on earth.” Area residents apparently agreed with that description, with the likely exception of the small settlement of East Rushford, which disappeared beneath the rising waters. The new lakefront property proved attractive to many people, and several real estate developments plotted out sections of the surrounding area above the high water line. By 1940, the lakefront was a thriving community with many small businesses and local service providers meeting the daily needs of a growing population. The Rushford Lake Landowners’ Association was already busy planning activities, arranging for essential services, and staging community events.

Over time, the lake and dam became less useful to the power utility, and there was talk of dismantling the dam. The Rushford Lake Landowners’ Association sprang into action to save the lake. Dedicated volunteers worked with Rochester Gas and Electric and local, county and state officials to find a way to preserve the lake and their way of life. In 1981, the plan came to fruition with a unique Special Recreation District being approved by the New York State legislature. The new Rushford Lake Recreation District Board of Commissioners is an elected 5-member board that oversees all lake activities, contracts for such things as dam maintenance and repair, and acts as the official legal, planning and operations arm of the newly private lake community.

The successful experiment that is Rushford Lake is well worth a visit any time of year. Lodgings on the lake are limited, so make plans early to rent a vacation cottage or home. Luckily, the area provides many small inns, bed & breakfasts, motels, hotels and other lodgings. Visitors will also find unique restaurants, diners, shopping and other services close to the lake.

Things to do at Rushford Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Rushford Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Rushford Lake Photo Gallery

    Rushford Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Rushford Lake Recreation District

    Surface Area: 585 acres

    Shoreline Length: 5 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,320 feet

    Maximum Depth: 115 feet

    Completion Year: 1927

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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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