Length: 16 miles
Width: 1.5 miles
Depth: 300 ft
Nearby Towns: Skaneateles


Just 23 miles west of Syracuse, the sparkling blue-green waters of Skaneateles Lake shine like a gem among the forested ridges of the Finger Lakes Region. The sixth largest of the Finger Lakes, Skaneateles Lake is exceptionally beautiful and serene. Nearby towns, including the city of Syracuse, use the lake as a source of unfiltered drinking water. 

Averaging about 3/4 of a mile wide and stretching 16 miles in length, Skaneateles Lake (from the Iroquois meaning “long lake”) reaches across three counties: Onondaga, Cayuga and Cortland.

The village of Skaneateles, along the northern shores of the lake, is widely regarded as being among the finest villages in all of the Finger Lakes. The charming hamlet boasts a well-developed infrastructure and attractions for the tourist trade, including a variety of hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts, a full calendar of activities and events, and a broad range of quality eateries. The village also has a rich, well-documented history that dates back to revolutionary times. The first settlers were veterans of the Revolutionary War who were awarded land grants as compensation for military service. 


Fishing Tips from a Finger Lakes fisherman

Rich with history, quaint shops and fabulous restaurants, the village sits on the north shore of Skaneateles Lake.

Skaneateles Lake’s clear waters make it popular for sailing and other recreational boating.


Skaneateles Lake is very popular for sailing and other recreational boating. Environmental controls are relatively strong, though, because the lake is a water source for the surrounding towns, so public boat launches are few.

If you are bringing your own boat, the New York State Public Boat Launch, about 2.5 miles from downtown Skaneateles, has ample parking and is a good place to launch your boat. Head south to the Skaneateles Town Boat Launch for another well-known local spot, but non-residents have to pay for parking. One of the few public boat launches on Skaneateles Lake is at 2880 West Lake Road. There are two small docks as well, for approach by water. About 6 miles from downtown Skaneateles, the Mandana Boat Launch is right next to the Skaneateles Marina.

You can rent a kayak or canoe at the Skaneateles Marina (138 West Lake Road) and at the Sailboat Shop (1322 East Genesee Street).

One activity you won’t find anywhere else is a three hour U.S. Mail Boat Cruise on the Barbara S. Wiles by Mid-Lakes Navigation. It’s one of the only U.S. mail-boats still in operation today. They have other cruise options such as a dinner cruise and other excursions. Check out our Skaneateles Boating Guide for more information.

The warmer water of the more shallow northern and southern ends of Skaneateles Lake makes for great fishing, especially for pickerel, large-mouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and panfish. Another great fishing spot is the nearly 4-acre lot of public land at 2880 West Lake Road, about 2.7 miles from downtown Skaneateles, along the western shore of the lake. Boaters make good use of it as well. This spot is open to the public, but parking is limited. It is also accessible by water. For more information on what you may catch and tips from a local finger lakes fisherman, see our Skaneateles Lake Fishing Guide.

You can swim in Skaneateles lake, however there is only one place with public access. Shotwell memorial/ Clift Park doesn’t have a beach. Instead it has concrete steps that go into the lake. There is a small fee if you are not a resident. For more information on this and other swimming locations around the Finger Lakes, check out our Finger Lakes Swim Guide.


Like most of the Finger Lakes, the area around Skaneateles Lake is good for bicyclists, provided that they are experienced with road riding. There are no marked biking trails on the lake, but the 32-mile circuit around the lake is a popular road route.

There are four hiking destinations provided by the Finger Lakes Land Trust– The Bahar Preserve, Hinchcliff Family Preserve, Bear Swamp State Forest and Staghorn Cliffs. Check out their interactive map and find out more before you go. Verona Beach State Park– Rail Trail is about 2 miles and is unpaved. It does connect to other nature trails in the park which total 8 miles. See the trail map here. The Auburn-Fleming Trail is a 1.6 mile flat trail that connects g Rt. 34 in the Town of Fleming to Dunning Avenue in the City of Auburn.


To the southwest of the lake, there is good hunting for grouse, duck and beaver, especially around Bear Swamp Creek.

On the North end of the lake, in Skaneateles there are three parks with waterfront views:
Shotwell Memorial Park
Address: 28 W Genesee St, Skaneateles, NY 13152

Clift Park
Address: 15 W Genesee St, Skaneateles, NY 13152

Thayer Park
Address: 66 E Genesee St, Skaneateles, NY 13152

On the Southern end of the lake is Andrew Fuller Park, located in Homer. Access to the lake is a little on the messy side but is still a nice place for a picnic with views of the water. 


Guppy Falls is part of The Skaneateles Conservation Area and is a 20 ft cascade.The stream flow is very dependent upon rainfall so the best seasons to go is Spring/early Summer or Fall.

Carpenter Falls, part of the Finger Lakes Land Trust,  is about 90 feet tall. While reaching the top of the falls is easy, the bottom is not and can be quite slippery when wet. Walking behind the falls is possible.


For almost 50 years the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society and the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation have hosted the Skaneateles Antique & Classic Boat Show at Clift Park. Admission is free and visitors will enjoy learning about—and meeting the owners of—some 90 runabouts, launches, sailboats, canoes, rowing craft and race boats. The entertainment includes a boat parade, a Junior competition, a display of model antique boats, a knot tying demonstration, raffle drawings and more. 

The Barrow Gallery has over 400 original oil paintings by nineteenth century artists and resident of Skaneateles, JohnD. Barrow. The Gallery has been open since the 1900s and boasts a collection including portraits, landscapes and poetry. The Barrow Gallery is the brick annex attached to the Skaneateles Library located at the corner of State and Genesee Street.

Check out this map of attractions and sites by the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce: Loop the Lake

Dickens Christmas– The highlight of the year! Step back in time and enjoy the holidays with Charles Dickens and his cast of over 40 characters as they interact with residents and visitors in the streets, stores, and restaurants. There’s also lively acts at the Gazebo, live music, unique shopping, wonderful food, and horse and wagon rides around the Village.

    • Skaneateles Winterfest– The event, hosted by the Skaneateles Sunrise Rotary Club, allows everyone to enjoy a winter day in the Village of Skaneateles.Events include Taste of Skaneateles, a Scavenger Hunt, Ice carving demonstration (near Gazebo), and Ice Walk with 25 ice sculptures in the business, Fire Ice Tower and Polar Plunge.

While most of the wine industry in the Finger Lakes is based around the hills surrounding Seneca, Cayuga and Keuka Lakes, Skaneateles offers wineries as well.

Anyela’s Vineyards – Run by James and Patti Nocek, Anyela’s Vineyard offers daily tastings and a spectacular view as you wander through the vineyards. The Nocek family has three generations of viticultural expertise to rely on. This is a welcoming place—come and learn about the art of winemaking from the experts (2433 West Lake Road).