Keuka Lake BicYcle Ride

March 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm 3 comments

View of Keuka Lake from the north end

A sunny and unusually warm spring day creates perfect conditions to bike in the the Finger Lakes region. No throngs of tourist traffic, plus you get a great view of the water, because the leaves are not yet out. I chose to circle Keuka Lake.

Gazebo in the town square, Hammondsport

Keuka in Iroquois means “canoe landing.” It is the most unusually shaped Finger Lake as it resembles the letter “Y.” Keuka has the unique distinction of being the only lake in the US that flows both north and south.

Penn Yan is the largest town, located at the end of the northeastern branch of the lake. Branchport is at the end of the northwestern branch, and at the southern end of the lake, is Hammondsport.

Keuka is a fabulous lake to ride around. The West Lake Road (54A) runs right next to the lake, while the East Lake Road (54), though not quite as scenic, has several great roadside picnic grounds and an unusually wide shoulder. The full circuit is about 46 miles and the hills are not as intense as some of those around the other Finger Lakes.

There was a strong wind coming from the southern end of the lake, so I decided to start my ride in Penn Yan, and take the longest leg first (RT 54).

If you want to get closer to the lake as you ride, try some of the many smaller east lake roads. These roads are paved though rough in spots, but are much quieter. At times these roads become tiny lanes but remain paved. Very nice if you are not in a hurry.

Southern end of Keuka Lake

Route 54 continues along the west side of the lake from Penn Yan to Hammondsport. I take a break in Hammondsport for lunch. There is a nice little lunch spot, a park for picnicking and a grocery store very close to the park.

Shoulder is narrow on the west lake road

For the second leg of the journey I ride north on route 54A. Here I had the best views of Keuka Lake, but there is not much room to ride. The road follows the edge of the lake, making for smaller hills, and with the tail wind it is a very easy ride. I advise making this ride during the off peak season when the road has less traffic.

The road levels as you approach Branchport at the northwest end of the lake, but do not be fooled. As you leave Branchpost you have to go up the longest  incline of the entire loop. Branchport has the “Crooked Lake Mercantile” for snacks.

Rt. 54A turns right at the light and the traffic increases considerably. Fortunately the shoulder is very wide.  Near the top of the climb is a scenic overlook where you can get a nice view of the lake.

Finger Lakes Summer

Map of roads around Keuka lake

Once over the crest you enjoy a long coast down into Penn Yan. If you are looking for a great spot  to eat lunch or dinner, try Lloyd’s Limited in Penn Yan.

More on great bike trails around Penn Yan:  Keuka Outlet Trail, biking the inside of the Y along the lake.


Entry filed under: Activities, Biking, Finger Lakes, Hammondsport, Keuka Lake, New York, Penn Yan. Tags: , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cathy Moskal  |  March 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Love this post. It makes me wonder what a bike ride around Seneca Lake would be like. Since I am quite busy most of the time except for a long walk or a short ride, I live vicariously through your story! Seneca Lake is a little steeper but there are some great trails. The first and easiest that comes to mind is at the north end in Geneva, the Seneca Lake Park trail that goes along the northern tip right down on the lake.

    • 2. Finger Lakes Summer  |  March 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Go for it! I plan on riding around all of them eventually — perhaps the way to manage it is with an overnight at The Starkey House. Maybe we should work something out!

      Just rode the Catherine Valley Trail from Watkins Glen to Horseheads last weekend — beautiful!!

      • 3. Cathy Moskal  |  March 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        Yes indeed. Just let me know when! Weekdays are especially good. Of course, it did cool down a bit to say the least, for the moment.
        Been busy just finishing up a “last project” inside for this year, a two-room suite with private bath and veranda access.
        Any time after the first week in April would be great.

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