Otisco LakeA photo of Otisco Lake on a blue skied day

"Waters Dried Away"

Physical Characteristics

  • Length: 6 miles
  • Width: 1 mile
  • Average Depth: 32 ft
  • Max Depth: 68 ft
  • Volume: 21 billion gallons


  • A dam was constructed in 1869 to both raise the water level of the lake and provide a storage place for water used in the Erie Canal.
  • Otisco Lake was dammed again in 1908 to raise the water level so it could be used as a water supply for Syracuse. Together, the dams raised the water a total of 13 feet.
  • The southern end of the lake is cut by a causeway, which was created so wagons carrying supplies could cut across the lake rather than going all the way around it.

Water Facts

  • Because of its shallow depth and warm temperatures, Otisco Lake is ideal for swimming, boating, and warm water fishing.
  • Both NYS and Onondaga have active fish-stocking programs in Otisco Lake.
  • The shore of Otisco Lake is lined with agriculture, cottages, and year-round residents.

Insiders Tip

If you are going fishing, check out the causeway.  It is a favorite spot for fisherman, and also gives a fantastic view of the lake.  On your way home, drive along East Lake Road to get a view of both Otisco and Skaneateles Lake!