Finger Lakes Summer Swimming

June 21, 2010 at 10:24 pm 7 comments

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.



Entry filed under: Activities, Canadaigua Lake, Cayuga Lake, Keuka Lake, Otisco Lake, Owasco Lake, Seneca Lake, Skaneateles Lake. Tags: , .

Biking the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail Finger Lakes Summer discovers “Y Keuka?”

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. J G Flood  |  June 22, 2010 at 2:11 am

    who’s the dish in the tube?

  • 3. Jack  |  July 4, 2012 at 8:57 am

    I know those kids! And the golf balls, clear water to 15 feet, and Memorial Day ice baths. Another favorite: finding fish under the lake boats. This is the most delicious water in the world.

  • 4. JTN  |  July 11, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Cliff Park in Skaneatles is indeed a great spot…..also try Deep Run Park on Canandaigua Lake

  • 5. mike quint  |  June 14, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Are all these places where there is a lifeguard blowing a whistle at any swimmer who ventures outside the roped area designated for swimming? I hate the swimming in designated areas only, as it keeps me out of the deep, clearest water.

    • 6. Finger Lakes Summer  |  June 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Most places on this list have lifeguards and limits. If you want to swim out side a roped area you have to venture out in a boat. I think you could enter the water as a swimmer from any state launch, as long as no one was patrolling carefully. There are few parks where you can easily swim. Otisco Lake Park is pretty remote (see my blog on that topic).

  • 7. Sigrid  |  July 25, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Unfortunately, there is not swimming in Cayuga Lake at Stewart Park in Ithaca.


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