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Keuka Lake

Coordinates: 42.519°N 77.109°W

Elevation: 715 feet/218 meters



Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes, New York by Ithaca, New York photographer Jon Reis.

Keuka Lake is the odd duck of the 11 Finger Lakes, having a distinctive Y shape. Because of this, the lake has two inlets--Cold Brook at the southern end of the lake and Sugar/Guyanoga Creek at the northern end of the left branch. The water of the left branch flows south around Bluff Point and into the right branch where all the water exits through the Outlet into Seneca Lake. This makes Keuka Lake the only lake in the world that runs in both a northerly and a southerly direction.


In addition, because the Keuka Lake Outlet empties into Seneca Lake, it is the only one of the Finger Lakes that empties into another lake. However, these unique physical features only add to the charm of the lake.


Locally, the lake is called the "crooked" lake. But there is considerable discrepancy as to what the Indians called it. Keuka is thought to mean "canoe landing" in Iroquois, but others claim it means "bent elbow." The Seneca Indians, who originally lived along the lake, are said to have called it O-go-ya-ga or "the promontory." This is thought to refer to what is now called Bluff Point, a 700-ft./213.3-m. high scenic overlook where the lake splits in two.


Keuka Lake is 19.6 mi./31.5 km. long and is the third largest of the Finger Lakes.


The moderating effect of the lake on local weather and the slope of the land make the area ideal for grape growing. It was at Hammondsport (Steuben County) at the southern tip of the lake that Rev. William Bostwick first started growing grapes in 1829. Although his wine was intended for the Sacrament, the wine industry around the lake is thriving and the backbone of the local economy. (See Keuka Lake Wine Trail.)

Grapevines growing on the east side of Keuka Lake near Penn Yan, New York USA.

Hammondsport was also the home of Glenn Hammond Curtiss, whose mother named him for the region and his home town. An extraordinary inventor, Curtiss is considered the father of American naval aviation. He was actually the first licensed pilot in the country. Curtiss is known to have flown his planes in the winter from the ice on the lake. His many exploits and accomplishments are on display at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum on State Route 54.


Hammondsport is the site of Genundowa, a Seneca Indian celebration of lights on the lake to give thanks for the peaceful times and the beauty and abundance of the region. The celebration has become a huge two-day event throughout the weekend before Labor Day (the first Monday in September), an event you won't want to miss.


At the northern end of the lake is the Village of Penn Yan in Yates County. It is here that the lake's water exits via Birkett Mills, a buckwheat mill in Penn Yan, New York (USA), on the Keuka Outlet.an 8-mi./13.8-km. long outlet on its way to Seneca Lake. The drop along the outlet is about 270 ft./82.2 m. with a number of waterfalls, making it an ideal location for the many mills that sprang up along it. Most of the mills ceased to exist many years ago, but Birkett Mills still processes buckwheat, much of it grown in Yates and surrounding counties. It is the oldest operating mill of any kind in the country, having been built in 1796-97. The three-cornered seed of an annual plant (Fagopyrum esculentum) native to the Himalayas, buckwheat is technically a fruit. It is extremely healthful and gluten free.


In 1833 the Crooked Lake Canal opened. Paralleling the outlet, it brought locally grown produce and manufactured goods through 28 locks to Seneca Lake and then on to the Erie Canal. Today the outlet provides a variety of recreational opportunities from hiking and biking to waterfall watching along the Keuka Outlet Trail. (See also http://www.winecountrycabins.com/parks/keuka-outlet/index.htm and http://yatesny.com/26.pdf)


Four years after the Crooked Lake Canal opened, the steamboat Keuka began hauling passengers and produce on the lake. Steamboats continued to ply the lake for many decades and contributed to the growth in the number of cottages along the lakeshore. Today, like many of the other Finger Lakes, Keuka Lake's shoreline is crowded with homes, making access to the lake difficult. Despite this, spectacular views of the lake can be had from many points. The terrace at Esperanza provides an excellent view, and there is a parking area on State Route 54A below the mansion. Some of the wineries also overlook the lake, and there is a state park that provides direct access, as well as two smaller boat launch sites and two village parks.


The lake serves as a water supply to Hammondsport, Branchport, Penn Yan, and Keuka College, which borders the lake. The water is relatively clean and clear. Eurasian milfoil has been introduced into the lake as it has been in many of the other Finger Lakes. The lake has a wide variety of fish species, many of them introduced as well.


Keuka Lake has less wind that some of the larger lakes and, consequently, is more popular with motorboaters than sailboaters.

Motorboats docked at Depot Park at the southern end of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes, New York USA.

Since all of the Finger Lakes Region is part of the Atlantic Flyway, Keuka Lake gets its share of migrating waterfowl and passerines. Flight north begins in early March, flight south begins in August. Much of the wooded land around the lake has been preserved and provides home to many year-round resident birds like turkeys, grouse, several species of woodpecks and owls, nuthatches, crows, ravens, blue jays, and chickadees. Rabbits, foxes, coyotes, and, on rare occasions, a black bear or two can also be found in the region.


WARNING: According to the New York State Department of Health (DoH), lake trout in Keuka Lake are contaminated with DDT. The DoH recommends that people eat no more than one meal per month of lake trout over 25" and that women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 eat none. DoH Advisory

Access to the Lake

Boat Tours

The Esperanza Rose

Docks in Branchport



Finger Lakes Guide Service

West Lake Rd.

Hammondsport, NY 14840



Keuka Maid

P.O. Box 339

Hammondsport, NY 14840



Keuka Shoreline Tours & Private Charters



Viking Spirit

Viking Resort

680 E. Lake Rd.

Penn Yan, NY 14527


Equipment Rentals

Basin Park Marina

46 W. Lake Rd. (Rt. 54A)

Branchport, NY 14418



Keuka Watersports

8436 Rt. 54

Hammondsport, NY 14840



Reagan's Finger Lakes Canoe & Kayak Livery

44 Hall Rd.

Himrod, NY 14842


Getting Around

Keuka Water Taxi



Depot Park

Water St.

Hammondsport, NY 14840

Boat dock, supervised swimming area, grassy picnic area.


Keuka Lake State Park

Pepper Rd.

Bluff Point, NY 14478


The park has 150 tent and trailer sites, a swimming beach, picnic shelter, boat launch ramp, docking space, and hiking trails. Cross-country skiing in the winter. The park is open year round. Camping from the beginning of May through the end of October.

Boat launch at keuka Lake State Park in the Finger lakes, New York, USA.

Indian Pines Park

Off State Route 54A on Old Pines Trail Rd.

Penn Yan, NY 14527

This is a village park with picnic facilities and shade trees.


Red Jacket Park

Lake St.

Penn Yan, NY 14527

This is another village-operated lakefront park just south of the village.

Public Boat Launches

Guyanoga Creek Site

State Route 54A

Branchport, NY 14418

Launches into Guyanoga Creek about 250 yds./228.6 m. north of the lake. Gravel ramp and parking for 4 vehicles. Brochure.


Village of Penn Yan

Off State Route 14A

Penn Yan, NY 14527

Multiple hard surface ramps, docks, parking for 120 vehicles. Brochure.


Lakefront Accommodations

Basin Park Marina Cottage

46 W. Lake Rd. (Rt. 54A)

Branchport, NY 14418



Corning Landing on Keuka Lake

11586 E. Lake Rd.

Hammondsport, NY 14840



Finton's Landing on Keuka Lake

661 E. Lake Rd.

Penn Yan, NY 14527



Gone with the Wind on Keuka Lake

453 W. Lake Rd. (Rt. 54A)

Branchport, NY 14418



North-End Marina

3553 W. Lake Rd.

Branchport, NY 14418



Stonehenge Guest House


Tudor Hall B& B on Keuka Lake

762 E. Bluff Dr.

Penn Yan, NY 14527



Viking Resort

680 East Lake Rd.

Penn Yan, NY 14567


Lakeside Rentals


Finger Lakes Premier Properties (formerly Rental Plus)




Lakecrest Manor



Resort Property Rentals of the Finger Lakes


Vacation Rentals by Owner



More Photos

Keukaview Photography

See Also


Keuka Lake Association


Updated 4 September 2016








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