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Places to Visit Along the Cayuga-Seneca Canal
(listed from east to west)
Cayuga Lake and Ithaca
At the northern end of the lake, on the west shore, in the town of Seneca Falls, is Cayuga Lake State Park. Although the park has no marina, it has many other amenities, including a dumping station, an extensive beach, a nature trail, a picnic area, pavilions, campsites, and a furnished three-bedroom rental cabin with dock.
At the southern end of the lake is the City of Ithaca. The Allan H. Treman State Marine Park in Ithaca is one of the largest inland marinas in New York State. It boasts 370 seasonal, 30 transient, and 30 dry boat slips but no camping facilities. Within easy walking distance of the marina are the Hangar Theatre, the Waterfront Trail, Cass Park, the Ithaca Farmers Market, and various stores, restaurants, and services.
Located on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake about mid-way along the length of the lake near the Village of Aurora, Long Point State Park provides boat launch facilities, a beach with swimming area, and picnic areas.
South of Long Point State Park in the Town of Lansing is Myers Point. A well-known birding hot spot, one can often see unusual water and shore birds, especially during migration. The Town of Lansing runs Myers Point Park and its marina. The park has 18 camping sites that are in high demand. Reservations are recommended.
Located on the west side of the lake about seven miles north of Ithaca, Taughannock Falls State Park provides a marina, beach, and campsites and cabins that overlook the lake. The park's namesake waterfall is one of the outstanding natural attractions of the Northeast. Taughannock Falls plunges 215 ft./65.5 m. past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 ft./122 m. above the gorge. Gorge and rim trails offer spectacular views from above the falls and from below at the end of the gorge trail. Lakefront concerts take place in the summer.
Continuing west along the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, you come to the Village of Seneca Falls, a village steeped in history. Strategically situated on the Seneca River, the site of many mills, tanneries, and distilleries, Seneca Falls was part of New York's canal system from early on. It played an important roll in the anti-slavery movement and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The temperance movement also grew in Seneca Falls as did the women's rights movement.
Each year the village holds a CanalFest in Mid-July at the Seneca Falls Canal Harbor. The harbor provides a municipal marina, a concert pavilion, and a shade area for strolling, all within walking distance of the village center and its many historic sites.
Just a few miles further upriver is the Village of Waterloo. A small community of 5,000, Waterloo is the birthplace of Memorial Day. Originally the location of a Cayuga Indian village, it was destroyed by General John Sullivan (on George Washington's orders) in 1779 in retaliation for the Iroquois' support of the British during the Revolutionary War.
Like Seneca Falls, settlers were attracted to the area by the water power of the Seneca River. A number of individuals who were active in the women's rights movement lived in Waterloo (though the first convention was held in Seneca Falls) and Peter Whitmer, one of the originators of the Mormon religion, lived just outside the village.
The canal at Waterloo has a charming docking area on a small island called Oak Island just downriver from the lock. Picnicking facilities are available here. It is possible to walk the quarter mile along the towpath from Oak Island to Locust Street and Waterloo's business district.
Continue upriver to Seneca Lake State Park at the entrance to Seneca Lake, which overlooks blue water, creating a relaxing experience for swimmers, picnickers, and birders. This park also offers 2 excellent marinas, with a total of 132 electric slips and 84 non-electric slips. Transient slips are available at both marinas.
At the northern end of Seneca Lake is the City of Geneva. Ranked as one of the best small cities in America, Geneva has found just the right mix of all the elements necessary to turn a visit into a rare experience. To help you decide where you want to go and what you want to do, the City has produced a lovely 26-page, full-color, downloadable brochure with maps. Enjoy.
About mid-way south along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake is Sampson State Park. Sampson was once a naval training station, then an Air Force base, before becoming a state park. Military roads and buildings have been replaced with grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees on flat, rolling woodlands surrounding ravines.
The focal point of the park is the 123-berth marina for seasonal and transient boaters. There are 245 electric campsites and 64 non-electric sites, picnic areas, a playground, and playing fields that include tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, a swimming beach, and a recreation building. Organized activities include tours, hikes, and wildlife watches.
Several miles south along the east shore from Sampson is Lodi Point State Park. Open year round, the park provides marine and picnicking facilities but no camping.
Located on the east shore of Seneca Lake at Peach Orchard Point off Rt. 414, Smith Park is owned and operated by the Town of Hector. The park provides a boat launch, as well as picnicking, camping, and swimming.
Arriving at Seneca Harbor at Watkins Glen, the boater has the choice of docking at W.W. Clute Memorial Park, a municipal park that provides camping and short-term dockage, or at one of several private facilities. All are within walking distance of downtown Watkins Glen.
The Village of Watkins Glen has a population of about 2,000. Yet, the village and the surrounding county offer a surprising amount of interesting activities for tourists. Besides the standard businesses one expects to find in a town, Watkins Glen has a number of nice boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants. The entrance to Watkins Glen State Park is also in town. This is a "must see" for visitors as the natural beauty of this shale glen and its waterfalls competes well with any in the state.
Just outside of the village is Watkins Glen International Raceway, better known as "The Glen." Here you will find premier auto racing as well as the International Motor Racing Research Center, whose collections are open to the public. Please keep in mind that because of the significant number of visitors to the park and The Glen each year, it is best to make reservations for dockage and accommodations before arriving.
Although not accessible by boat, this park is within easy walking distance of the Watkins Glen marinas. Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Within 2 mi./3.2 km., the glen's stream descends 400 ft./122 m. past 200-ft ./61-m. cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge. Campers and day-visitors can enjoy the Olympic-size pool, scheduled summer tours through the gorge, tent and trailer campsites, and picnic facilities.
Heading north from Watkins Glen along the western shore of Seneca Lake, one comes to the Village of Dresden, population 307. Dresden is the eastern terminus of the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail. The Outlet was constructed back in the 1800s to connect Keuka Lake to Seneca Lake and the Erie Canal. The Outlet Trail has a hiking path along which one can see the remnants of the many mills that sprang up along the Outlet.
Any of the docking facilities around the lake provide an excellent access point to the more than 30 wineries around Seneca Lake. Many of these wineries are on the hills just overlooking the lake. Some even provide mooring docks, dining, and accommodations.
Updated 10 October 2012