Rochester is well-known for our eleven Finger Lakes and two beautiful Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie. As you drive around the countryside, however, you can see a landscape freckled with blue bodies of fresh water where locals are boating, fishing, swimming, and relaxing.
Go take a look for yourself at these other great lakes near Rochester! Check out the map at the end of this article.
Great Public Lakes
1. Rushford Lake
I spent one long day each summer on Rushford Lake at a Kodak Ramblers Baseball picnic, and have such fond memories here! We also logged land above the lake for several years in my early teens.
Rushford Lake is a 585-acre man-made reservoir located in northwest Allegany County, with five miles of shoreline and a public beach operated by Allegany County.
The lake was built by Rochester Gas and Electric in the late 1920s and then sold in 1981 to the Rushford Lake Recreational District, a governmental body created in 1981. The lake is drawn down about 40 feet each winter.
The Balcom Beach area provides shore fishing access and a trailered boat launch. Shore fishing is also available on the north side of the Caneadea Dam, from the picnic area at the end of Lake Road.
There is a public beach on the south end.
2. Cazenovia Lake
Cazenovia Lake is drained by Chittenango Creek, which then flows north to Onieda Lake over Chittenango Falls.
There is a hand-launch and 75-yard carry-down from a 10-car lot in McNitt State Park off East Lake Road.
Swimming, restrooms, bathhouse and car-top boat launch are available at Lakeland Park. A boat or canoe/kayak permit is required to launch from Lakeside Park.
3. Chautauqua Lake
Chautauqua Lake is 17-miles long and 2-miles wide at its greatest width. It is also one of the highest navigable lakes in North America.
Ride on the Chautauqua Belle, a replica of a sternwheeler steamboat, or the free Bemus Point-Stow ferry, a nine-car cable-guided ferry.
Long Point State Park and Midway State Park are located on the eastern shore. Chautauqua Institution is located on the north-west side of the lake, Jamestown to the south, and NY-17 crosses over the middle like a tightening belt.
3. Oneida Lake
Northeast of Syracuse
Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State. While not considered one of the Finger Lakes, Oneida is sometimes referred to as their “thumb”. (Well, so is Cazenovia.)
Because it is shallow (average depth of 22-feet), it is warmer than the deeper Finger Lakes in summer, and its surface freezes solidly in winter.
Oneida Lake is a remnant of Glacial Lake Iroquois, a large prehistoric lake formed when glaciers blocked (from downstream) the flow of the St. Lawrence River.
4. Lake Riley
Lake Riley is part of Cobb’s Hill Park in the City of Rochester.
An historical marker reads,
“The original canal, completed here in 1822, followed closely the curving route of what is now Norris Drive. During later enlargement, c1852, the canal was straightened and shifted north, creating a flooded area called the Eastern Widewaters. The Barge Canal, completed in 1918, passed south of Rochester and in 1922 the city purchased the old Erie right-of-way for a rail line which was later converted to Route 490 East. The widewaters was partly filled for construction of the State Armory, 1917, and during subsequent park improvements. The remaining area of Lake Riley measures about 4 1/2 acres.”
5. Cuba Lake
Cottage and home sites on the lake are officially leased from the state as part of the Cuba Lake District. Public boating access is provided at the DEC boat launch site off West Shore Road, near the Rawson Creek inlet.
6. Allen Lake
A 1.5-mile trail in the southwestern part of Allen Lake State Forest leads to a secluded waterfall. The floating pier is accessible to people of all abilities.
7. Lime Lake
The lake is an impoundment created by damming three natural, spring-fed ponds and is about 1 mile in diameter. The hand launch is located on east side of lake, off Potter Road and has parking for 12 cars.
The area is bordered to the south by the main hamlet of Machias.
9. Glenwood Lake
Orleans County maintains a concrete boat launch with parking for 10 cars/trailers on NYS Route 63.
Paddle south from the launch site to see Medina Falls. The dam is at the northern end, near the launch.
The lake has steep sides with a rocky shoreline.
10. Lake Demons
Canoes, rowboats, and paddle-boats may be rented from the Recreation Area. You may launch your own boat from the ramp of the Recreation Area for a fee of $5.00 (2010). Personal water-craft (i.e. jet skis) are not permitted.
The recreation area has a designated swimming area, but you may also swim off your boat.
11. Cinnamon Lake
Cinnamon Lake is a small lake of about 50 acres. It is surrounded by woods, most of which is private land and not open to the public. The part of the lake that is in Cinnamon Lake State Forest begins from Hornby Road as farmland.
The closest access point to the lake is a turn-around space on Hornby Road. It’s possible to carry-in a kayak from the road, but it is not a clear-cut path.
12. Van Cleef Lake
State engineers replaced five locks with a large two-flight lock – a 49-foot (15 m) lift that required a great pool of water for their operation. Van Cleef Lake was formed by building the Locks 2 and 3, which submerged the flats area of Seneca Falls. Flooding was completed on August 20, 1915.
The lake was named for George Cunningham van Cleef, one of first white children born in Seneca County in 1797.
If you are boating the Erie Canal, lock through Locks 2 and 3 to enter Van Cleef Lake and view the Trinity Episcopal Church, one of the most widely recognized buildings in the Finger Lakes.
13. Waterport Reservoir
Waterport, aka Lake Alice
Orleans County maintains a concrete boat launch with parking for 8 cars/trailers on Oak Orchard River Road.
14. Waneta and Lamoka Lakes
Waneta Lake lies north of Lamoka and they are connected by a half mile long channel which is part of the Waneta-Lamoka Wildlife Management Area.
Access to Waneta Lake is easier due to the open area surrounding the uniform shape of the lake and the paved highways along either side.
Both lakes are accessible by a boat launch where County Road 23 crosses the channel connecting the two lakes. Most low-profile boats are able to go from one lake to the other under the bridge. There is a parking area adjacent to the launch sites.
15. Cayuta Lake
Town of Catherine
Cayuta Lake is an approximately two-mile-long lake. It reaches a maximum depth of 26 feet with an average depth of 14 feet.
Much of this northern shore of the lake is within the Allen Preserve.
Much of the shoreline is private property, however a state-owned public boat launch is located on the north end of Cayuta Lake on Loch Heid Road off of Cayutaville Road. There is a concrete ramp, seasonal dock, and parking for 15 cars and trailers.
Swimming is permitted in the lake, although there is no specific public beach or supervised swimming area.
16. Harwood Lake
The lake is located on the northwestern border of the 300-acre Harwood Lake Multiple Use Area.
Fishing access is unlimited with shoreline fishing allowed around the entire lake. There is a a DEC access area located 2 miles south of the Hamlet of Farmersville Station. The site provides hand launching for cartop boats and canoes with parking for 24 cars.
Lakes in State Parks
17. Silver Lake State Park
Silver Lake State Park provides a boat launch facility for boating and fishing on the lake. The area also has picnic facilities and a comfort station which is open year round. Silver Lake is a great spot for ice fishing!
Formed by glaciers and rimmed by glacial drumlins, Silver Lake is nestled amid rural farms and historic communities.
There are boat launchs at Koziel’s Boat Livery, Mack’s Boat Livery, Silver Lake State Park Launch, Silver Lake Marine, and Zintel Norris Campground.
Perry’s Public Beach at Silver Lake is a lovely, sloping grassy park-like area from which visitors can access the lake, although swimming is not permitted.
18. Quaker Lake and Red House Lake in Allegany State Park
The Quaker area is known for its two lakes with a sandy beach for swimming, two fishing piers and a canoeing or kayaking access point.
Area attractions include the Mount Tuscarora Fire Tower, hiking trails, Science Lake, Bear Caves, Thunder Rocks, and the Quaker Amphitheater.
The Red House Area is known for the historic tudor-style Administration Building. Enjoy boat and bike rentals, a sandy beach for swimming, fishing and snowmobiling around Red House Lake.
Area attractions include Stone Tower, the Summit Fire Tower, Bridal Falls, the Art Roscoe Ski Area, and five miles of paved bike trails.
19. Green Lake and Round Lake in Green Lakes State Park
Green Lakes State Park’s outstanding features are its two glacial lakes surrounded by upland forest. Both Round and Green Lakes are meromictic lakes, which means that there is no fall and spring mixing of surface and bottom waters. Such lakes have a high potential for evidence of ancient plant and animal life.
Due to the sensitive nature of both Green and Round Lakes, no outside/private boats, kayaks, or canoes are allowed. Rowboat and kayak rentals are available Memorial Day – Labor Day at the Boat House, weather permitting.
One particularly impressive grove of trees, lying immediately to the southwest of Round Lake, has been called the Tuliptree Cathedral.
20. Harlow Lake in Darien Lakes State Park
Public access to the lake is permitted daily from 6am to 10pm, allowing powerboat and non motorized watercraft (including kayaks and canoes) onto the water.
Lakes in County Parks
21. Durand Lake and Eastman Lake
There is shoreline access within Monroe County’s Durand Eastman Park to both lakes off Lakeshore Boulevard.
Both lakes are great for kayaking and ice fishing.
Durand and Eastman Lakes are the largest, with 2 smaller lakes in the park: Trimble and Trott Lakes.
22. Bond Lake Park
Bond Lake Park is located on Lower Mountain Road in the Town of Lewiston. The park is situated on the Niagara Escarpment on over 551 acres of land encompassing five separate lakes and a nature center.
There is a 2.8 mile heavily-trafficked loop trail around the park.
23. Jamesville Reservoir
Jamesville Beach County Park borders most of the south west corner of the reservoir which is 1-mile long with 4-miles of shoreline and a depth of 35 -feet.
There is a hand launch with a 100-yard carry to the water from a 10-car parking area.
Swimming is encouraged at the 4′ shallow water beach, a 7′-10′ deep water zone with floating raft, and a 3000 square foot inflatable raft zone.
24. Beaver Lake
Onondaga County Park
Beaver Lake is a 200-acre glacial lake in Baldwinsville with 9-miles of winding trails. Walking paths, ski trails and canoe routes all lead visitors to encounters with nature.
Beaver Lake Nature Center’s trails are hiking trails designed for nature study and observation. Dogs are not allowed at Beaver Lake Nature Center. In addition, bikes are not allowed on the trails.
25. Almond Lake
Almond Lake is open to the public (with certain limitations) and can be accessed from Kanakadea County Park. Non-motorized boating and fishing are allowed at the 110-acre lake, though swimming is not. There is a concrete ramp as well as a separate gravel launch site, but no dock.
Lakes with a Fee to Access
26. Cross Lake
Legend has it that the lake was the home of Hiawatha. The lake has two small publicly owned islands–Big Island (46 acres) and Little Island (7 acres)–both situated near where the river intersects the lake.
Cross Lake is 3.8-mile long, 1-mile wide, and 59-feet deep.
Rather than flowing north like most lakes in the region, Cross Lake flows both in and out via the Seneca River, with an average flushing rate of 51 times per year or about once a week.
All of the land and shore around the lake is private property. There is no public access to the lake. There are a number of wetlands around Cross Lake, especially at the north and south ends. They are privately owned and, therefore, can only be investigated from the lake side. There are several ways to access the water without buying or renting property, including Cross Lake Marina and Quimby Marina.
There is a free, public hand-launch area on Bonta Bridge Rd., 2-miles east of the Village of Weedsport, with parking for 10 cars. This launch puts you into the river upstream from the lake.
27. Duck Lake
Duck Lake is a small shallow lake with a 2.8-mile shoreline and a max-depth of 20-feet.
Swimming, motor-boating, canoeing, and kayaking are all popular activities on the lake. Cottages tend to congregate on the east and west shores, making the shoreline a nice place to investigate with a canoe or kayak.
There are no public access points to the lake, however, parking, a boat launch site, non-motorized boats, and cabin are all available at Duck Lake Campgrounds for a fee.
28. Loon Lake
Loon Lake is an irregularly shaped, 141-acre lake. Despite the fact that the lake is at an elevation above 1700 ft., the lake is in a valley surrounded by hills. The lake has no outlets.
Boating, including motorboats, is permitted on the lake, however, there is no public access. Laf-A-Lot Restaurant has a concrete ramp you can access for a fee.
Swimming is permitted in the lake, but there is no public beach.
29. Lake Como
Lake Como is .62-miles long with a maximum depth of 22-feet. The entire shoreline of the lake is privately owned
Lake Como is ideal for canoeing and kayaking. You can launch for a fee from a small store and eatery called the Lake Como Inn on the northeast shore.
At the southern end of Lake Como is the McIlroy Bird Sanctuary owned by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. This 156-acre parcel of creek, peat swamp, fen, and cool, moist hemlock woods is a great place to see native plants and birds, especially in the spring.
A marked loop-trail allows you to sample the different habitats and leads you to a viewing platform over the swamp.
Great lakes that are
difficult to access
30. Crusoe Lake
Crusoe Lake is situated on state land administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and is part of the Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area. It is directly behind the Montezuma Audubon Center.
At the moment, there is no safe way to access the lake. According to the DEC, there are plans to build a boardwalk to the lake from its land behind the MAC.
31. Lake Salubria
Access is available to the public from an unmarked, short, one-lane drive at the intersection of Lake Salubria Drive and State Route 415 (on the southeast side of the lake). There is no beach and no space for parking other than in the drive, but it is possible to launch canoes, kayaks, and motorboats from this spot.
Boats, including motor boats, are permitted on the lake, however, at this time, there is no dock, and boaters would be expected to slosh through a mucky area to reach open water. It would be extremely difficult to launch a motorboat from this area.
The lake water is untreated. Swimming is permitted, though there is no lifeguard on duty and no beach.
There are no hiking trails around the lake.
Lakes with private access
via residency or membership
32. Faun Lake
My in-laws spent decades on Faun Lake, so I spent a few years of my young married life enjoying its tranquility and fishing, along with a great lake community.
Faun Lake is a deed restricted ownership association of 300 camp sites. Associated with the Camp Coast to Coast national Franchise and adjacent to the main complex, A CCC traveler (membership # required) or resident can stay and have access to Faun Lake facilities for up to 14 days per year.
33. Goodhue Lake
There is no public access to this lake. If you wish to use the lake, you will need to rent one of the cottages. Boating and swimming are both permitted.
34. Java Lake
Java Lake Colony is a community of approximately 225 seasonal cottages and year-round homes. Cottages are grouped around one end of the Lake and on several roads that climb away from the Lake.
Recreational areas include a sand beach with swimming floats, boat launch docks, baseball fields, volleyball and basketball courts and a children’s play area.
A strictly enforced “No Motorized Craft” policy on the Lake ensures a peaceful, quiet environment.
35. Lake LeRoy Reservoir
The reservoir is privately owned and used for boating and fishing by the landowner and his guests. There is currently no public access to the reservoir.
Mud Creek’s watershed is primarily agricultural with a narrow treed buffer along much of the shoreline. The reservoir is also surrounded with a buffer of trees with only a single house being visible from the reservoir.
Toxic or Polluted Lakes
36. Onondaga Lake
Onondaga Lake is located immediately northwest of and adjacent to Syracuse. It is one of the most polluted lakes in the United States. High levels of ammonia and phosphorus due to the dumping of sewage wastewater have led to excessive algae growth in the lake.
No other lake in the United States receives as much of its inflow as treated wastewater.
Despite its toxicity, there are a series of parks and museums lining the shore: Long Branch Park, Onondaga Lake Park, Onondaga Lake Park Marina, Wegmans Good Dog Park, Skä•noñh Center, and the Salt Museum.
Onondaga Lake is a dimictic lake, meaning that the lake water completely mixes from top to bottom twice a year. The lake is 4.6-miles long and 1-mile wide, with a max-depth of 63-feet and an average depth of 35-feet.
37. Lake Neatahwanta
Swimming has been banned for decades in Lake Neatahwanta; it is persistently plagued by toxic blue-green algae which can cause liver damage in humans and can kill pets. It has the most stubborn blue-green algae problem of any body of water in Upstate New York.
The City of Fulton maintains a fishing pier and small boat launch on Route 3. North Bay Campground also has shore fishing and boat launching for a fee.
Lakes for Observation Only
38. Moss Lake Preserve
Designated a National Natural Landmark, the most outstanding feature of Moss Lake Preserve is its 15-acre bog lake. As the last continental glacier retreated some 15,000 years ago, a large block of ice was surrounded or buried by gravel carried by the glacier. The ice melted, leaving behind a water-filled depression. Eventually, asphagnum moss mat grew over much of the open water, thus giving it the name Moss Lake.
PLEASE NOTE: The floating bog boardwalk at Moss Lake is closed until further notice. The trail system around Moss Lake and the picnic area remain open.
39. Black Lake
Black Lake is the main attraction of Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.
Human access to the lake is prohibited, however, there is a parking lot and an overlook on a rise just to the west of the lake on State Route 89, which runs through the refuge. You can observe the lake and its activity from that point without going into the park itself.
Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a 2-hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them each unique!
Where are your favorite lakes around Rochester, in addition to our great lakes and finger lakes?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!