Finger Lakes Summer discovers “Y Keuka?”

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

Exploring Keuka's Y

view at the southern tip of the top of the "Y"

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) .

We only had time and energy to explore the top of the “Y” between Branchport and Penn Yan, and headed south into the peninsula between the “Y”.  We went by bikes to explore the bluff roads that run all along the east and west edges of the lake, starting at the state park, but went by car up and over the top of the peninsula to check out the beautiful views of both sides of the Y as well as the rolling hills covered with grape vines of some of the 8 wineries that surround the lake. Riding along the west bluff road was delightful. There was a breeze to temper the 85 degrees + humidity and trees provided steady cover, with little traffic and a great view of the lakeside homes.

If you are looking for a remote Finger Lakes wooded summer vacation spot, this is a winner. I saw lots of signs for summer rentals along the road. The traffic was infrequent and if you are OK with going up and down hill between house and water, there are lots of choices. Because there is so much lake going in several directions the sailing looked like it could be an adventure, and there were many boats on the lake.

My husband Charlie said  “If you want to know — Why Keuka? — it’s because it’s 3 lakes in 1!” Keuka Lake has the distinction of being the only lake in the country that flows both North and South.  Water entering from Coldbrook flows North to Penn Yan.  Water entering from Guyanoga Creek in Branchport flows South through the West branch of the “Y”, then heads North to Outlet Creek in Penn Yan. I can verify the strong current as I jumped in the lake after our ride on the western tip at the state park. Compared to swimming in the deeper Finger Lakes in late June, Keuka was delightful!

Keuka Lake is also unusual because it empties into Seneca Lake from a stream, called the Keuka Lake Outlet, at the lake’s northeastern tip in Penn Yan. If you travel to the southern end of the lake closer to Hammondsport, it looks just like all of the other Finger Lakes. Only when you get to the southern tip of the peninsula (which is pretty tree covered and wild) can you get glimpses of a lake that goes in 3 different directions.

Today was a first for me as I swam in 2 Finger Lakes in one day. We decided to take a trip later this summer to see how many of the Finger Lakes we can swim in — in one day. Let me know if you want to join the quest!


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Entry filed under: Activities, Keuka Lake. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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