Skaneateles Lake, New York, USA

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

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Skaneateles Lake visitor and community guide

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

Skaneateles Lake, pronounced “skany-atlas” or “skinny-atlas,” is one of New York’s famous Finger Lakes. Its name means “long lake” in one of the local Iroquois languages, and it reaches out over three counties: Cortland, Cayuga, and Onondaga. The lake sits at an elevation higher than the other Finger Lakes (approximately 863 feet). and is often called “The Roof Garden of the Lakes”

Skaneateles Lake’s 13.6 square miles of clear waters are the cleanest of the Finger Lakes. The City of Syracuse and other localities draw water from the lake without the need for a filtration plant. The pure beauty of the lake is uncontested, and William Henry Seward (who arranged the US purchase of Alaska from Russia) once called it “The most beautiful body of water in the world.”

Recreational sailing is one of the more popular lake activities, with the first regattas beginning in 1847. The Skaneateles Sailing Club is located on the east side of the lake, neighbor to a public boat launch. If you plan on boating at Skaneateles, read up on the boating regulations, as there are strict rules due to the lake’s secondary use as a water supply.

The area around the lake is rich in natural beauty. Carpenter’s Falls, inside a nature preserve near New Hope, are a must-see for waterfall lovers. Swimming opportunities abound and any water lover will enjoy wiling away the hours while floating in the crystal blue waters of the lake, challenging friends to an old-fashioned race, or diving into the depths.

Boat lovers will find themselves in seventh heaven at the Annual Skaneateles Antique and Classic Boat Show, held every summer on the northern end of the lake. Boats are displayed both on water and land, and the beautiful woods glisten in the sun as you make your way around the event, listening to live music in the background. Boats range from mahogany runabouts to sailboats, canoes, and racing boats.

The lake is also home to the annual Skaneateles Music Festival. The Festival began in 1980 and has continued ever since, offering four weeks of chamber music, orchestra music, and children’s events in late summer.

Custom Skaneateles Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Skaneateles Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Waterfall
  • Antiquing

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Skaneateles Lake

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Skaneateles Lake photo gallery

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Skaneateles Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Syracuse

Surface Area: 8,960 acres

Shoreline Length: 31 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 863 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 863 feet

Average Depth: 145 feet

Maximum Depth: 315 feet

Water Volume: 1,301,206 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 18 years

Lake Area-Population: 7,500

Drainage Area: 59 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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