Archive for November, 2010

Otisco: Mysterious Lake

view north Otisco

Otisco view north from the Causeway

On a cold sunny day I took off to explore the eastern-most Finger Lake, Otisco, which I have always found to be unique and mysterious.

The first mystery for me was it’s origin.

“Otisco” is Iroquois for “Waters Dried Away,” Originally it was small, marshy area. A dam was constructed on the northern end at Nine Mile Creek in 1869, which raised the water level by 9 feet, for use by the Erie Canal. Once more in 1908 it was damned, raising it another 4 feet for use by the City of Syracuse for water supply. (see “A” mark on the map). At it’s deepest point the lake is 60 feet deep, 6 miles long and 1 mile wide.

Willows in the park

Otisco Lake Park

Otisco Lake Park

Cool Willows in Otisco Lake Park

I went looking for the locations where a non-resident could gain access to the lake. Otisco Lake Park was my first stop. The park has 600 ft of shoreline and some of the most stunning willows I have ever seen. There are restrooms and hand launch boating. The park is located at 2525 Otisco Valley Road in the town of Marietta (“C” on the map).

As I traveled further south on the County Rd 124/Otisco Valley Road, I enjoyed spectacular lake views — first from above and further south — right at lakeside.

I was headed for the next point of interest and my second mystery, The Otisco Lake Causeway (see “B”). This is a man-made barrier of rocks that spans the entire lake at its southern end. It was originally built for use by wagons to traverse the lake rather than circumvent. The mystery to me is why it still remains now that it is not a road for transport. It seems to serve no purpose other than a great fishing and photo spot. It seems very odd to have this unusual landmark remain without improving it for fisherman and hikers.

View from the Causeway

View of both sides of the lake from the Causeway

Accessing the causeway from the east side was a bit rough, as it was blocked by a large fallen tree. The pathway cross was not much of a path, but a very rocky and uneven surface, not friendly to hikers. Perhaps I should have tried accessing the Causeway from the west side of the lake. The view afforded by being out in the middle of the lake is wonderful. It was hard to capture on film the wonder of seeing both the north and south end of the lake in one view, separated by just a thin spit of land. (If you click on an image, it will open up full-size in a new window)

"The Shallows"

Otisco view of the south end of the lake -"The Shallows"

The lake below the causeway is quieter and calmer, referred to as “The Shallows.” (see “E”). A gap in the causeway close to the west bank allows for boats to travel through, and for the continuous passage of water into the southern which would otherwise be a marsh.. The result is a mixing of the silt of the marshland once there and the lake’s waters, gives the water south of the causeway a higher turbidity and a contrasting color (E on the map).

Otico Lake View

View north from the east side of the lake, halfway down

The pictures show how pretty this lake is, but it is not as accessible to visitors as the other Finger Lakes. There are few retail establishments — another mystery. I stopped at a gas station/general store on the eastern side, in the town of Amber. The lake, despite lots of camps and its obvious beauty,  has not seen the heavy commercial development of lakes like Skaneateles or Canandaigua or even Conesus — which is similar to it in size.

If you want great fishing, privacy and quiet, this might be your lake. Walleye, tiger muskellunge, sunfish, perch, rock bass, crappie, both large and small mouth bass, white bass, bullhead, and brown trout are found in it’s waters. Plus, on the first day of bass season, usually around the end of the second week in June, the lake fills with boats for the annual fishing derby. There is no state boat launch and access for powerboats has to take place at the Marina

Bonus:  If you travel the East Lake Road between Skaneateles and Otisco, you can catch a great view of both lakes.

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November 28, 2010 at 7:44 pm 2 comments

Finger Lakes Honeoye Harvest

An exceptionally warm Saturday allowed me a late fall bike ride in farm country north of Honeoye Lake. I was careful to bike east/west, thus avoiding some of the mile-long N/S hills common in this area, and instead opting for the quad-ripping drumlins that make riding in the Finger Lakes a worthy workout.

Continue Reading November 20, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Shotwell Park, Skaneateles New York, Veterans Day

“This Veterans Day, more than 125 American flags decorated Shotwell Memorial Park in the village of Skaneateles. The Skaneateles High School girls’ lacrosse team sold the flags for $30 each and put them in the park in honor of or in memory of a veteran of the buyers’ choice.

Continue Reading November 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm 1 comment

Finger Lakes Summer’s Conesus Treat

My friend Jane had given me a terrific lead on a couple of sites on Conesus Lake. The weather was not even close to summery, and I hoped my pilot wouldn’t notice.

Continue Reading November 6, 2010 at 11:34 am 1 comment


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