Coordinates: 42.757°N 77.510°W
Elevation: 800 feet/244 meters
The name Honeoye is said to come from the Indian word Ha-ne-a-yeh, which means "lying finger" for the lake's relatively north-south orientation. Like most of the Finger Lakes, Honeoye has its own unique qualities. The lake is 4.5 mi./7.2 km. long and .8 mi./1.2 km. wide, making it the second smallest of the 11 lakes. At 30 ft./9 m. deep, it is the shallowest of the Finger Lakes with possibly the warmest water in the summertime. Water retention is also the shortest of any of the lakes with water entering the lake from Honeoye Inlet at the southern end and exiting into Honeoye Creek at the northern end in about 10 months. The lake is eutrophic with an adequate level of phytoplankton but less than adequate level of oxygen for swift decomposition. This is thought to contribute to algal blooms that occur on the lake in the summer.
Honeoye Lake has the greatest amount of forested lands in its drainage basin--about 85%--of any of the Finger Lakes and the least amount of agricultural land--about 10%. This forested land provides extensive recreational opportunities, especially in a region between Honeoye and Canandaigua lakes called the Bristol Hills.
Because Honeoye Lake is relatively small, it freezes over in the winter, providing opportunities for ice skating, ice boating, ice fishing, and other similar winter activities, as well as skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in the forests around the lake. Consequently, tourism is an important year round economic element.
PLANT AND ANIMAL LIFE
Honeoye Lake has abundant rooted plant life along the shoreline that provides food, shelter, and breeding sites for many animals. In addition to rooted vegetation like cattails, the lake also contains eelgrass, pondweed, milfoil, and stargrass.
As with the other Finger Lakes, Honeoye Lake is on the Atlantic flyway and attracts many migrating birds that can be seen on the water and found in the forests around the lake. Around the lake can also be found all of the wildlife species that are common to the Finger Lakes, including white-tail deer, raccoons, skunks and other members of that family, fox, coyotes, beavers and other smaller rodents, as well as a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians. The lake has a selection of native and introduced species of fish like bass, pickerel, walleye, bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, black crappie, and alewives.
PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE LAKE
As with most of the Finger Lakes, public access to the lake is limited by much of the shore being privately owned. There are no over-night accommodations on the lake nor are there any boat tours.
There are two public places from which boats may be launched:
Honeoye Lake Boat Launch State Park, 6150 East Lake Rd., west of the intersection of East Lake and Wesley roads in the Town of Richmond. Concrete ramps. Parking for 30 vehicles. Fee charged. Brochure. Open May to November.
Sandy Bottom Beach at Sandy Bottom Park. On Sandy Bottom Rd. off Co. Rt. 36, .4 mi./.6 km. south of Rt. 20A. Gravel ramp. Parking for 12 vehicles. Brochure. This is a town-operated site with two picnic pavilions, a bathhouse, outhouses, skateboarding facility, and supervised swimming. It is open from June through September for those activities and CLOSED during that time to boat launching.
RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AROUND THE LAKE
Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation oversees nearly 2,000 acres at the southern end of the lake called the Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area. This area contains one of the largest maple-ash swamps in the state. Beavers, turtles, otters, and a wide variety of birds can be found here. Exploring the inlet in a canoe or kayak can be a rewarding experience, especially early in the season when the birds are migrating. The trip from the boat launch is about 4 mi./6.4 km. round trip and is easy paddling at any time of year.
Updated 13 August 2009