Archive for June, 2010

Finger Lakes Summer discovers “Y Keuka?”

Spent the day exploring Keuka Lake. This is an unusual member of the Finger Lakes because it is “Y” shaped, instead of long and narrow. It used to be called Crooked Lake by early settlers but when the wine industry took off in the late 1800’s they switched to the Iroquois name Keuka — which means canoe landing. (Crooked was not classy enough for wine country) .

Continue Reading June 28, 2010 at 1:12 am Leave a comment

Finger Lakes Summer Swimming

I grew up on the Finger lakes and thought the best day to test the lake was Memorial Day. The water temperature would be hovering around 58-60 degrees F. That was enough to make you gasp and wonder if you were jeopardizing your chance to have children, but as soon as you got out, you felt great. So how warm does the lake have to be to enjoy great swimming?

My favorite time is around the 4th of July. The lake is just hitting 70 degrees and it is getting really hot outside. When you jump in it is a shock and then you get used it. You hoist yourself up on the raft and the heat of the metal is delicious against your icy skin. You toast a few minutes and jump back in.

Finger Lakes swimming holes

The water can be clear up to 15′ deep.

My next door neighbors are just starting to enjoy the lake in August when it gets almost up to 80, but that feels like bath water to me. I’ll wear swim flippers and see how far I can swim along the shore line until my husband thinks I am dead and he brings the motorboat to look for me.

Springer Spaniel jumping after a bouy

Walter jumps after his buoy

At this point a pair of flippers and goggles are perfect for seeing the lake bottom as deep as 15′ feet. I’ll dive down and pick up golf balls that are a couple hundred yards off shore.

If you don’t own lake front, you might want to know where to go to be able to enjoy swimming. Here are a few of the nicer points of access, in no particular order:

Red Jacket Park, Keuka Lake

The beach is nice and clean.  This Penn Yan pebbly beach is extremely clean and the water tends to be very calm. There are also public boat launch capabilities and The Outlet Trail is right nearby.  You are protected from major winds by the Bluff, the land mass that seperates the East & West Fingers. Located in Penn Yan at the Northeastern tip of Keuka Lake.

Champlin Beach, Keuka Lake

Near Hammondsport, on the southern tip of Keuka Lake,  two great swimming holes. Champlin Beach (607-569-3700) is a delightful sandy beach.

Keuka Lake State Park, Keuka Lake

A gorgeous swimming beach. The park, a picturesque spot in the heart of wine country, is at 3370 Pepper Road in Bluff Point (315-536-3666).

Depot Park

Water Street, Hammondsport, NY 14840

Indian Pines Park

Old Pines Trail Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527

Penn Yan Boat Launch & Park

Water Street, Penn Yan, NY 14840

Kershaw Park, Canandaigua Lake

9 acres of park land on the north shore of Canandaigua Lake. Park hours are 6:00AM-11:00PM, year round. Walking paths, picnic shelters, gazebo, beach area & small marine craft launch area, snack bar. ($3.00 per adult and $2.00 per child ages 6-18).

From the New York State Thruway I 90 exit 44 the Canandaigua exit, follow route 332 straight until you reach Canandaigua Lake approximately 8 miles keep going straight and follow the signs. Route 332 will run right into and become Lakeshore Drive, which runs right next to Kershaw Park. There is ample parking opposite the park.

Onanda Park, Canandaigua Lake

One of the most popular places for families. Large lawn, hiking trails and more. $5.00 per car on weekdays and $7.00 per car on weekends. Lifeguards provide supervision.

4965 West Lake Road, Canandaigua, NY, tel: (585) 396-2752,

Frontenac Park, Cayuga Lake

The village of Union Springs hosts this small park on the east coast of the lake. You can easily see Frontenac Island from this location. The park also boasts a public beach. Lifeguards are on duty July through August, 7 days a week.
North East side of the lake. Chapel St off of Rt 90, Google Directions.
Union Springs Parks: (315) 889-7265

Harris Park, Cayuga Lake. 

Located on the South East side of the lake, on Railroad St. off of Genesee St in the village of Cayuga, this sliver of a park offers swimming, a small boat launch and floating dock.Contact: 315-252-1707

Stewart Park, Cayuga Lake.

An excellent waterfront family destination complete with playing fields, swimming and picnic areas. Located at the south end of the lake, in the City of Ithaca. Off of Rt 34. Free admission. Contact: 607-273-8364.

Myers Park at Lansing, Cayuga Lake 

This small peninsula was formed by Salmon Creek sediment deposits as it emptied into the lake. The Myers Point sand bar is an excellent bird watching location. This park spans 31 acres and includes a marina and swimming area. Located on the North West side of the lake. Off of Myers Rd. One mile from Rt. 34B. Admission free for residents, $2 per car on weekends and holidaysContact: 607-533-7388

Long Point State Park, Cayuga Lake

Long Point State Park is situated on the east side of Cayuga Lake on a V-shaped spit of land extending out into the water.  Principally a day-use park in a residential area, Long Point offers a stoney beach, a supervised swimming area, a bathhouse, a playground, a boat launch and temporary docking area with two concrete ramps, a gazebo, and a picnic area with tables and grilles. Mowed grass provides space for ball game and other activities.

Lake Rd., Off Rt. 90, Aurora, 315-497-0130,

Cayuga Lake State Park.

Offering the best view of Cayuga Lake, this state park offers all the accommodations expected of a first-class state recreation area. The flat beach offers swimmers and anglers great access to the lake .

Emerson Park, Owasco Lake

Emerson Park is the only public beach on Owasco Lake, and can be located at the northern end of the lake in Auburn. Parking is $2.00.

Sampson State Park, Seneca Lake

Once a naval training station, then an Air Force base, before becoming a state park. Picnic areas, playground and playing fields that include tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, a swimming beach, a recreation building, and organized activities including tours, hikes, and wildlife watches.

6096 Rt. 96A, Romulus, NY 14541

Clift Park, Skaneateles Lake

Anyone may use the parks though to swim at Clift Park people who do not live in Skaneateles must pay a fee. In addition, access in limited in other ways. Metered parking lines the streets and there is a large lot a few blocks away, but all of these spaces quickly fill in the heat of summer.

Otisco Lake has no pubic swimming access.

Hemlock and Canadice do not allow swimming.

Please feel free to share your favorite Finger Lakes swimming holes with me.


June 21, 2010 at 10:24 pm 7 comments

Biking the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail

he Keuka Lake Outlet Trail of today is a well-marked, fairly level, easy to ride on 8-mile trail that follows the stream and the abandoned Fall Brook Railroad bed. As we rode we could see many remnants of the earlier age — mills, distilleries, stone locks, dams, a blacksmith shop and an abandoned bridge, as well as beavers, several varieties of birds, as well as an Amish horse and buggy.

Continue Reading June 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

Finger Lakes Summer visits “Sunny Hill” — Sonnenberg

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park is tucked onto a quiet side street in the town of Canandaigua. It is one of the nation’s most extensively preserved country estates from the Victorian era. The 50-acre site has several themed gardens with stone bridges and walkways, a huge Queen-Anne Style mansion featured on America’s Castles, a greenhouse complex and beautiful views of Canandaigua Lake.

Continue Reading June 6, 2010 at 2:49 am 1 comment

Finger Lakes Summer Memorial Motorboat Ride

In case you’ve never taken a motorboat ride on one of the Finger Lakes, put it on your “bucket list.” The therapeutic benefits of gliding over a glassy surface at 40 MPH are unparalleled.

I’d like to tell you how easy it is to make this happen — if you don’t already own a motorboat, — but it’s not. Suppose you have a couple hundred bucks, a credit card with an adequate limit in case you total the boat, a free day, and a nearby marina that rents boats. Then you also need the amazing ability to instantly start and maneuver a motorized vehicle through roiling waves, combined with the ability to get it to stop moving when you really need it to stop — like a few feet AWAY from the immoveable concrete pier. Lastly, if paying $6 a gallon for gas at the marina does not phase you, then, by all means, go for it.

If, on the other hand, the previous list discouraged you, here’s a simpler way:  make friends with a motorboat owner.

Motor boat owners are always looking for boat ride enthusiasts to impress with their water-born chaffering skills, and the offer of a few beers may be your express ticket to a Memorial Day motorboat ride.

The video in this entry shows a 30-minute sunset boat ride condensed down to 60 seconds — minus the motorboat sound. That’s not enough time to provide the thrill of the speedy ride combined with gorgeous colors of the sunset and a close-up view of how millionaires live lakeside — but it’s a start.

The advantage of seeing the lake from the lake is that you get to discover the secrets shore spots where no one has built a home — yet. The cliffs that are too high to build on, have amazing fossils at water’s edge. You also get to enjoy places that can only be reached by boat, like the naturally sandy beach that is deep enough to anchor your boat, while shallow enough to walk in the water and still hold a drink.

Best of all, unlike the parking lots in town which are always filled up, there is usually a boat slip on the town pier where you can tie up your boat, and walk to shore for an ice cream cone or a fish fry without any hassle.

A motorboat is often referred to  as “a hole in the water in which you pour money”, and that is true, but it makes the Finger Lakes a whole lot of fun.


June 1, 2010 at 2:09 am 2 comments

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