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The Lakes of the Finger Lakes

At the end of the last ice age, over one hundred-thousand years ago, massive sheets of ice, called glaciers, advanced southward from Canada carving deep trenches in the earth like a trowel. As the earth warmed and the glaciers receded, the trenches filled with water and formed what we now know as the Finger Lakes. There are 11 lakes that make up what are traditionally considered the Finger Lakes. They range in length from 40 miles (Cayuga) to only 3 miles (Canadice) and in depth from 618 ft. (Seneca) to just 30 ft. (Honeoye). The Lakes are known for their breathtaking natural beauty, and the deep waters of the largest lakes, combined with the high hills alongside, create a “micro-climate” ideal for wine production. Some of the lakes are well developed with booming tourism industries and dotted with quaint towns and villages, while some are pristine and undeveloped with miles of peaceful, picturesque hiking and biking trails. All of this makes the Finger Lakes region one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

Otisco Lake – The eastern most of the Finger Lakes, Otisco Lake is also one of the smallest at just 6 miles in length. Popular with campers and boaters, it once had a causeway built across its width.

Skaneateles Lake – One of the eastern-most of the Finger Lakes, Skaneateles Lake is the home of the Village of Skaneateles, a popular and trendy vacation spot for famous stars and former Presidents.

Owasco Lake – From the Mohawk word meaning “crossing”, Owasco Lake is smaller and shallower than most of the other Finger Lakes. As a result its waters warm up more quickly, making it a popular swimming and boating destination. The city of Auburn sits at its northern shore.

Cayuga Lake – The longest of the Finger Lakes, Cayuga Lake is home to many renowned wineries. The city of Ithaca, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, sits at its southern end.

Seneca Lake – The largest and deepest of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake sports the largest selection of wineries in the region. Watkins Glen, home of the Watkins Glen International Race Track, resides on its southern shore, while the city of Geneva adorns the northern lakefront.

Keuka Lake – Distinguished by its “wishbone” shape, Keuka Lake is a popular recreational spot, famous for its hiking and biking trails, while also housing a few well-known wineries. Its shores are home to the villages of Hammondsport to the south, and Penn Yan to the North.

Canandaigua Lake – The fourth largest of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua Lake serves as a popular vacation home destination due to its proximity to the city of Rochester. It is also home to the town of Canandaigua and beautiful Sonnenberg Gardens.

Honeoye Lake – A popular spot for vacation homes and rental cottages, Honeoye Lake is well known for its clear, clean water, which warms quickly in the spring and summer due to its shallow depth.

Canadice Lake – The smallest of the Finger Lakes, Canadice Lake sits between Honeoye and Hemlock Lakes. As with Hemlock Lake, it serves as a water supply for the city of Rochester, and as a result remains largely undeveloped.

Hemlock Lake – A popular lake with fishermen, Hemlock Lake is renowned for its land-locked Salmon, as well as various species of trout, bass, perch and crappie. As it is a water supply for the city of Rochester, it is largely undeveloped and pristine.

Conesus Lake – The western-most of the Finger Lakes, Conesus Lake is small and shallow, with a maximum depth of only 66 ft.