The Finger Lakes Region is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it’s right in our backyard!
It’s easy to get out there and explore. For example, my husband and I spent a day driving from Rochester to Naples, hitting five of the lakes—Canandaigua, Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock and Conesus—along the way. We call these 5 lakes the “West Hand”.
Our drive was only a few hours, adding on field trips to the Ontario County Park “Jump Off” and Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreational Area, arguably two of the most scenic viewpoints in the entire region. Inter-lake roads also offered incredibly scenic views of the hills and valleys which dominate the terrain throughout region.
You could also break up each lake into multiple day trips. Hemlock & Canadice are the least populated as they are the primary water supply for the City of Rochester, whereas the major central Finger Lakes (Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga) are more active in the surrounding towns and wineries.
Is there such a thing? If not I’ll start one! In 2019, I was able to visit all 11 of the Finger Lakes, ending with a perfectly timed day trip to Otisco Lake and the stunning causeway in the Otisco Lake Valley.
Have you visited all 11 Finger Lakes? If so, congratulations! A toast to celebrate in this beautiful “Green Heart of the Finger Lakes” glass from the Old Country Store and More – 1849.
Check out each one of
our beautiful Finger Lakes,
listed west to east:
1. Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake is the westernmost Finger Lake and the closest to Rochester, just 30 minutes from city center. Approximately 65% of the lake’s residents live here year round.
You can drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes. You’ll find the town of Lakeville on the north end with plenty of great dining options.
2. Hemlock Lake
Hemlock Lake is the most undeveloped and pristine of the Finger Lakes, and 45 minutes from Rochester.
Enjoy a drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes. Hemlock provides drinking water to the City of Rochester.
3. Canadice Lake
Canadice Lake is the highest, smallest, and most remote-feeling of the Finger Lakes, and 45 minutes from Rochester. Canadice has been a water reservoir for the City of Rochester since 1876. There is no development permitted along the shoreline.
You can drive around the entire lake in 20 minutes.
4. Honeoye Lake
Honeoye Lake is the shallowest (only 30 ft deep!) and the 2nd smallest of the Finger Lakes, also 45 minutes from Rochester. Like Conesus, Honeoye Lake freezes completely in the winter.
You can drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes.
5. Canandaigua Lake
Canandaigua Lake is home to the smallest island—Squaw Island—one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes (the other on Cayuga). The lake is 30 minutes from Rochester.
You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes. The City of Canandaigua is on the north end, Naples on the south end.
6. Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake, often called “the middle finger”, is the only lake that runs north and south, and is 60 minutes from Rochester.
You can drive around the entire lake in 90 minutes. You’ll find Penn Yan on the north end, Hammondsport on the south end.
7. Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake is the deepest of the Finger Lakes with an estimated volume of 4.2 trillion gallons, roughly half of the water in all of the Finger Lakes. The north end is 45 minutes from Rochester.
You can drive around the entire lake in 120 minutes. The City of Geneva is on the north end of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen on the south end.
8. Cayuga Lake
Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes at 38.1 miles, and is 60 minutes from Rochester to the north end. There are 140 streams that flow into Cayuga.
You can drive around the entire lake in 120 minutes. You’ll find Seneca Falls on the north end and the City of Ithaca at the south end.
9. Owasco Lake
Home to both a cold water and a warm water fishery, and is a 75 minute drive from Rochester. Owasco Lake, unlike the other Finger Lakes, is almost completely surrounded by agricultural land.
You can drive around the entire lake in 45 minutes. You’ll find the City of Auburn on the north end, Morovia to the south.
10. Skaneateles Lake
Skaneateles Lake is the only Finger Lake not connected to the Erie Canal System, and is a 75 minute drive from Rochester. The water quality is so pure it passes unfiltered into homes in Syracuse and other municipalities.
You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes.
11. Otisco Lake
Otisco is the easternmost of the Finger Lakes and is seventh in size among the Finger Lakes. It’s a 90 minute drive from Rochester.
Enjoy a drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes.
Rochester railfans are incredibly lucky that passionate preservationists before us saw the value in retaining structures we can still appreciate today.
Which are your favorite Finger Lakes?
Share with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!