Finger Lakes, New York

Fun Facts About the 11 Finger Lakes

There are 11 gorgeous Finger Lakes, providing a multitude of recreational activities including water biking, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming, jet skiing, sailing, and fishing. From west to east they are: Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles, and Otisco.

Finger Lakes Formation

There are a couple of different accounts of how the Finger Lakes were formed.

Geologists say, The Finger Lakes were formed more than 550 million years ago, during the Pleistocene Ice Age. Glaciers crept through the area and carved deep slices into the land, pushing the earth and rocks south. Gradually the ice melted and the glaciers receded, leaving shale valleys of water, which are now the Finger Lakes. 

Native American legend claims that the lakes were formed by the hands of the Great Spirit when he (or she!) laid their hands on the land to bless it. His (or her!) fingers left imprints that filled with water, hence the name “Finger Lakes.”

Whichever explanation you choose to believe, the Finger Lakes are magical and awe-inspiring.  

Quick Facts About the Lakes:

  • There are a total of eleven lakes in the Finger Lakes Region which are called major lakes. There are additional smaller lakes, like those near Keuka, Waneta, and Lamoka.
  • Seneca Lake is the deepest of the Finger Lakes (618 ft. depth).
  • Honeoye Lake’s maximum depth is approximately 30 feet.
  • Despite its Native American translation meaning "Long Lake," Canadice Lake is the smallest of the Finger Lakes, measuring under 4 miles long.
  • Seneca Lake is Ontario County's waterway connection to the world, due to its accessibility from the Erie Canal to the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The annual NYS Department of Environmental “shocking” of the fish takes place in Naples Creek, just a few weeks before the opening of trout season on April 1. The shocking involves bringing fish to the top of the water so they can be analyzed, tagged, and counted.
  • Port Gibson is the only area in Ontario County that is accessible from the original Erie Canal. The Cayuga-Seneca Canal connects the Erie Canal to Seneca Lake.
  • In addition to the Finger Lakes, glacial activity also formed the Bristol Hills and its surrounding valleys. These geological features are clearly visible from Jump Off Lookout at the Ontario County Park in Naples.

About Our Lakes

Owasco Lake

President Millard Filmore and John D. Rockefeller were both born on Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes,...