New York Finger Lake Adventures

Published on October 26, 2020

The state of New York has so much to offer, city life, big shows, and lakes! The most famous lakes in the region are call the Finger Lakes. For background, the oldest known use of the term “finger lakes” in relation to finger lakes is from New York State Geological Survey (NYSGS) from 1883. The Finger Lakes Region is named as such because of its proximity to the Hudson River Valley. Let’s delve into some New York Finger Lake adventures that you can put on your exploring list!

Traveling the Finger Lakes

NY Trails

While I have heard a lot about the Appalachian Trail, not much is heard about the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) in upstate New York. Fewer than 400 transit hikers have completed the entire Finger Lake Trail in the past ten years, according to the Finger Lake Trail Conference. While hikers and backpackers don’t have to tackle the entire Finger-Lakes network, there are always opportunities to get a taste of the extensive hiking trails.

Finger Lakes Trail

Finger Lakes Trail is part of a 2,500-mile trail that runs from New York to North Dakota. The footpath not only connects to the Great Lakes, but is also one of the most popular hiking trails in the United States. It runs through a national forest that surrounds the lakes and crosses the southern part of its region. Let’s get into more New York Finger Lake adventures!

New York’s Tully Valley

Tully Valley includes a chain of small lakes at the south end that could almost be Finger Lake. I say almost, because it has never formed due to a terminal moraine. The lake, which can be seen in the space above the lake, was formed about 30,000 years ago, as satellite photos show. Onondaga Lake in the east is called the “12th Finger Lake” because it is similar, albeit smaller. These moraines led to the Tioughnioga River flowing into the Hudson River. This is an important source of water for the state of New York and the rest of the United States.

Niagara Adventures

You can’t talk about New York lakes without mentioning Niagara. The rest of northeastern New York is hilly and steep, but the Niagara River and picturesque Niagara Falls form the lakes of the northwest. you can spent a lot of time in the Niagara area, either hiking, exploring the falls, or the wine scene. You cannot go wrong by visiting this area. West of these lakes are the rugged Adirondack Mountains and Finger Lakes National Park. These lakes contain some of the most scenic waterfalls in the United States, as well as a number of scenic lakes and rivers.

Hudson River Valley – Waterfall Trails

The Hudson River Valley is hilly and mountainous. However the highlands are home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails and picturesque waterfalls in New York. The Finger Lakes Trail System also offers a variety of other trails in the Adirondack Mountains. This includes the western New York Conservation Trail, which meets the Canada Bruce Trail at Niagara Falls.

Seeing is Believing – Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain has similar wildlife and rock formations to the Great Lakes. The solitude of the Fingersee Trail offers hikers the opportunity to discover the native fauna of the region. This includes black-tailed deer, owls and other bird species. In addition to hiking and seeing you can also be an adventurous camper and go fishing!

Hiking, Rafting, and More!

The paths around Avalanche Lake are exceptional. The Moose River is a favorite among experts, while the Sacandaga River hosts some of New York’s most famous waterfalls as well as the largest waterfall in the United States. The Black River near Watertown is best suited for advanced rafters. This is because it’s considered one of the most scenic and challenging trails on the Finger Lakes Trail. Phelps Mountain is another moderate climb, rewarded with 360-degree views from the highest peak.

Honorable Mentions – Non-Finger Lakes


Silver Lake west of Conesus Lake seems to qualify as a Great Lakes watershed, however it’s not considered a Finger Lake. The lakes East Oneida and Cazenovia are part of the Susquehanna River catchment area.  In the case of Kinzua and Findley, both lakes are artificial creations of dams and do not consider themselves Finger Lake watersheds.

Adventure Awaits

Whatever lake you choose, you can’t go wrong with the Finger Lake region of New York. Besides hiking, camping, and rafting, you’ll make memories that will last you a lifetime. Your New York Finger Lake adventure awaits you!


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