Canandaigua Lake – New York’s Finger Lakes

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Ontario County and Yates County, New York

Surrounding Communities: Canandaigua, Naples, Middlesex, Rushville

Maps: Google Map, Bing Maps, Multi-map (topo)

GPS: Northern outlet: (N 42.87433 / W 77.26187)
Man-made outlet: (N 42.87483 / W 77.27182)
Southern inlet, Naples Creek (N 42.66647 / W 77.35748)

Size:  Area: 10,750 acres, Length: 15.5 miles, Max width: 1.5 Miles.

Max depth: 275 feet

Volume: 446 billion gallons.

Water Quality:  High (in decline).

Elevation: 688 feet.

Directions: East Lake Rd. (Rt. 364) runs along the East side of the lake, until Crystal Beach, where it heads uphill to the east. A cottage access road, also named East Lake Rd. (Rt. 11) continues along the shore, but offers nothing but cottages and a dead end. On the west side West Lake Rd (Rt. 16) hugs the shore for the northern half, but veers west and Rt. 21 takes you the rest of the way. See below for more directions to specific access points.


Pronunciation: “Can-an-day-goo-ah”
From the Seneca name meaning “Chosen Spot”

Canandaigua Lake sceneWith the City of Canandaigua and its highly developed shoreline and artificial outlet canal to the north and the fertile Naples Valley with the peaceful High-Tor Wildlife Management Area to the south, the Canandaigua Lake shoreline offers much contrast along its shores.

The lake has always been a popular vacation destination for Rochesterians. Roseland Amusement Park operated in the City of Canandaigua for 60 years, offering many upstate residents their first roller-coaster experience. Numerous camps and parks bordered the lake at one time, but now few remain as the demand for summer cottages has nearly coated the northern half’s shores. Cottages on this lake are hot commodities, some fetching millions of dollars in sales. Where there are no cottages, farmland takes up the majority of the remaining watershed. Although this gives the lake’s encapsulating hillsides beautiful green patches of color, the nutrient-rich run-off causes abundant weed and algae growth in the lake, a problem for cottage owners and area residents that use the lake as a water source.

Recently the City of Canandaigua has been a boom for tourism in the region. Roseland Waterpark now offers family entertainment in the form of waterslides, wave-pools and (artificial) beach lounging. Along the shore of the lake, Canandaigua hosts the New York  Wine and Culinary Center. This multi-million dollar complex serves as a gateway to upstate NY wine and cuisine, offering workshops, tastings, certifications, merchandise and an excellent view of the lake. Canandaigua’s numerous parks, shops and dining options are a draw from all over the region, also giving visitors a representative taste of upstate life. Throughout the length of the lake, you’ll find a few small town and county parks that offer everything from scenic views to fishing or swimming.

The southern end of the lake is a state treasure. Here you’ll find the High-Tor Wildlife Management Area, a 6,200 acre natural area east of the village of Naples. Contained within are wetlands, forested hills, pristine gullies and meadows, all offering scenic vistas, superb hiking opportunities and excellent access for hunting and fishing. The High-Tor area includes Clark, Conklin and Tannery Gullies as well as Hatch Hill, reaching 1800 feet high. To complement the wildlife management area is the quaint village of Naples, well-known for their delicious grape pies.

Canandaigua Lake

Canandaigua Lake Parks / Beaches / Access Points

Canandaigua Lake State Marine Park

Description: The northern outlet, within the city of Canandaigua, is home to a small boat launch area. It’s called a park, but it offers little in the way of recreation other than a place to launch your boat or cast a line.

Seasons/Hours: Open from May through mid-October. Contact the park directly to confirm operating hours.

Directions:  North end of the lake.  Access is south of US 20 / SR 5. Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Spring through fall.

Pets: Allowed, on leash.

Admission: $7 boat launch fee.

Parking: 70 cars and trailers.

Handicap accessibility: Yes.

Swimming: Not allowed.

Boat Launch: Car-top, trailer launches.

Accommodations: Fishing, boat launch.

Contact: NYS Parks: 585-394-9420 (seasonal office)

Kershaw Park

Description: This recently renovated park in the City of Canandaigua offers excellent views of the lake and an opportunity to swim. There are lakefront walkways, pavilions, picnic tables and a small boat launch within the 9 acre park. The centerpiece is a gazebo overlooking the lake and a 30 foot fountain off the shore. This is easily one of the most beautiful parks in the Finger Lakes. Adjacent to the park is Steamboat Landing, containing a first class restaurant, banquet center and the Canandaigua Lady, a 19th century replica of a double-decked paddle boat.

Seasons/Hours: 6am -9pm from October 31 to April 30 and 6am-11pm from May 1 through October 30. Swimming open summer only.

Directions: North end of the lake. Lakeshore Blvd. in Canandaigua. The Park is between the lake and the road. Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Summer.

Pets: Allowed, on leash, but not on beach.

Admission: Park is free. Beach area admission for non-residents costs $3/adult, $2 child or $60/$40 for season passes.

Parking: Roadside lots along the park and a lot on the eastern end. 80 cars.

Handicap accessibility: Yes.

Swimming: Allowed in the guarded swimming area.

Boat Launch: Trailer; car -top, hand launch.

Accommodations: Gazebo, pavilions, picnic tables, grills, playground, swimming, lifeguards, bathhouse, lockers, trails, fishing, restaurant, restrooms, banquet house, boat tours, hand boat launch. Download shelter reservation form.

Contact: City of Canandaigua: 585-396-5080.

Canandaigua Pier

Canandaigua boathouseDescription: At the lake outlet, Main Street meets the water and becomes the city pier, an excellent fishing spot. As you walk the pier, look on the east side of the pier to see boathouses.

Season/Hours: Year-round, day and night.

Directions: North end of the lake.  Main St. in Canandaigua. Drive right onto the pier.  Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Year-round.

Pets: Allowed, on leash.

Admission: Free.

Parking: Parking will be tight. If the paces on the pier are taken, park at Kershaw park and walk over here.

Handicap accessibility: Yes

Swimming: Not allowed.

Boat Launch: None.

Accommodations: Fishing; restrooms; historic markers; shops; food.

Contact: City of Canandaigua: 585-396-5080

Lagoon Walk Park

Canandaigua Lagoon Park sceneDescription: The City of Canandaigua hosts this nature park along the Canandaigua Outlet. Recent state funding allowed the city to build this natural lagoon into a series of trails, bridges and observation decks. A popular spot for walks, canoeing and nature-spotting. The plan for low-impact development across this 34 acre wetland gives the area a natural feel. If you are visiting Kershaw Park, cross the road and hike the trails here.

Season/Hours: Year-round, dawn until dusk.

Directions:  North end of the lake. Between Eastern Blvd and Lakeshore Dr. Next to the Wegmans Food Markets in Canandaigua. Park either in the Wegmans lot or Kershaw Park. Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Spring.

Pets: Not allowed.

Admission: Free.

Parking: Park either in the Wegmans lot, Kershaw Park or adjacent public parking.

Handicap accessibility: No. Dirt and gravel trails.

Swimming: Not allowed.

Boat Launch: None.

Accommodations:  Fishing, trails; food and restrooms at the adjacent Wegmans.

Contact: City of Canandaigua: 585-396-5080

Onanda Park

Onanda ParkDescription: On the western shore towards the south end, the Town of Canandaigua purchased an old YMCA campground and now runs it as a public campground, meeting center, natural area, beach and boat launch. On the lake side there is excellent lake access, complete with full boat launch and guarded swimming area. Furnished lakefront cabins are also available for rental. Across West Lake Rd. are more cabins as well as a 2 mile nature trail up and around the hillside bordering the northern end of Barnes Gully. One can creek-walk up Barnes Gully for three beautiful cascades or view them from observation platforms on the trail above. During the winter, the clear slopes of the western side offer great sledding opportunities.

Season/Hours: Year-round, dawn until dusk.

Directions:  West Lake road runs through it. Access is south of US 20 / SR 5. Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Spring for a Barnes Creek hike. Summer for the beach. Fall for a hike up the western hill.

Pets: Not allowed.

Admission: Town park fees ($1 for walk-ins / $5-7 for cars) for the lakefront section of the park. Free for the western side.

Parking: Parking lots on either side of West Lake Road. 50 cars.

Handicap accessibility: Yes

Swimming: Yes, in the guarded area on the east side of the park.

Boat Launch: Hand launch only.

Accommodations: Fishing; picnic tables; trails; restrooms; cabins; swimming; lifeguards; lodges; hand boat launch.

Contact: Town of Canandaigua: 585-394-1120

Ontario County Park at Gannet Hill

Description: Gannet Hill County Park does not offer access to the lake or even a decent view of it. But it is worth mentioning because at an elevation of 2,256 feet, you can easily see the hills past Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. There’s plenty to do at this well-developed 410 acre park.

Season/Hours: May-Oct. 9am to 9pm, although you can park just outside the main park road and hike any of the trails year-round.

Directions: On the west side of the lake, take Rt. 21 to W. Gannet Hill Rd. and follow it to the park.  Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Spring and fall.

Pets: Not known.

Admission: Free, fee for lodges and pavilion reservations and camping.

Parking: 20 cars.

Handicap accessibility: Yes, some facilities.

Swimming: Not allowed.

Boat Launch: None.

Accommodations: Hiking trails; playground; fishing (pond); softball diamonds; picnic tables; grills; campsites; pavilions; lodge; restrooms.

Contact: Ontario County: 585-374-6250

Butler Beach (West Lake Schoolhouse Park)

Description: Butler Beach (West Lake Schoolhouse Park) is a free swimming area run by the Town of Canandaigua. It’s not really a beach, but a small strip of lakefront property.

Season/Hours: Memorial through Labor day, 11AM to 6PM

Directions: On the west side of the lake, on the corner of West Lake Rd. and Butler Road. Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Summer.

Pets: Not allowed.

Admission: Free.

Parking: Roadside parking for a few cars.

Handicap accessibility: Yes.

Swimming: Not allowed.

Boat Launch: None.

Accommodations: Lifeguards, swimming.

Contact: Town of Canandaigua: 585-393-1233

Canandaigua Lake State Boat Launch in Woodville

Canandaigua WoodvilleDescription: Simply a state-provided concrete ramp for boat launching on the southern end of the lake, near Naples. There is a small community park across the street with picnic tables.

Season/Hours: Seasonal. The launch tends to flood in spring. Closed in winter.

Directions: 3 Miles north of Naples on Rt 21.  Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Summer.

Pets: Allowed, on leash.

Admission: Unknown.

Parking: 20 cars/trailers.

Handicap accessibility: Yes.

Swimming: Not allowed.

Boat Launch: Concrete launch for trailers. Hand launch also seems possible.

Accommodations: Fishing; picnic tables; historic signs; informational signs.

Contact: DEC: 518-402-8920

Deep Run Park and Beach

Description: Deep Run Park and Beach is a small park and free swimming area run by Ontario County. It’s a nice area to swim and have a picnic.

Season/Hours: Open all year, but swimming only in summer.

Directions: On the east side of the lake, on East Lake Road. Google Directions (approximate location).

Best time to visit: Summer.

Pets: Allowed, on leash. Not allowed in the swimming area.

Admission: Free.

Parking: 20 cars off of East Lake Road.

Handicap accessibility: Yes

Swimming: Lifeguard is on duty Memorial through Labor day, 10AM to 9PM

Boat Launch: None.

Accommodations: Picnic tables; grills; restroom; swimming.

Contact: Ontario County: 585-396-4000

High Tor Wildlife Management Area

Description: At the southern end of the lake, east of Naples, the state set aside this diverse 6,100 acre stretch of land, containing, many steep wooded hills, gullies, eroded cliffs and marshland. The Management Area is divided into 3 main regions. Directly to the east of Naples are 3,400 acres of wooded hills (containing Conklin Gully). East of the southern end of Canandaigua Lake is the South Hill region. This beautiful area was once called the “Birthplace of the Seneca” by the Seneca Indians. It’s mostly made up of successional fields and wooded areas scaling the 1900 feet high South Hill. It also contains Clark Gully. The third area is the southern end of the lake. This 1,700 acre wetland habitat provides for abundant fish and waterfowl numbers. The perfect spot for fishing or bird watching.

Season/Hours: Year-round, day and night. Overnight camping by permit only.

Directions: On the southern end of the lake. East of the southern end, and east of Naples. Accessible by either Rt 21 or 245 Google Directions.

Best time to visit: Fall for the foliage.

Pets: Unknown.

Admission: Free.

Parking: Various roadside parking and small lots. Corner of Sunnyside/West Ave and another on Rt. 245 near Parish Hill Rd.

Handicap accessibility: No.

Swimming: Lifeguard is on duty Memorial through Labor day, 10AM to 9PM

Boat Launch: Hand launch is possible at some points along Naples Creek.

Accommodations: Hiking trails; hunting; fishing; X-country skiing; birdwatching.

Contact: DEC Region 8:  585-226-2466

Canandaigua Lake Weather

Latest Naples, New York, weather conditions and forecast

Fishing Information

Common species

Largemouth Bass; Smallmouth Bass; Chain Pickerel; Rock Bass; Tiger Muskies; Walleyes; Yellow Perch; Bluegills; Sunfish; Pumpkinseed; Brown Bullhead; Northern Pike.

Best fishing spot

Find an offshoot from one of the main trails in the High Tor Wildlife Management Area at the south end of the lake near Naples. Bring waders, as it can get muddy. Here you can have secluded access to the Naples Creek inlet to the lake.

Fishing conditions

For current fishing information, a fishing hotline is available at Central New York Fishing Hotline or by calling (607) 753- 1551.

Interesting Stuff

Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens

This Victorian era estate encompasses over 50 acres of gardens, an historic Queen Anne style mansion and greenhouse. The mansion, the former summer home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson, was built in 1887, with the surrounding gardens developed for decades after. Today this estate is open for tours, events, weddings and parties. It is also home to the Finger Lakes Wine Center, offering tastings and private parties. For more information on Sonnenberg Gardens, visit their website. Driving Directions

Bobble Hill Road

Bobble Hill Rd, on the west shore, was once considered the perfect test track for trying out a new car. Getting up the steep road was, and still is, a challenge for under-powered vehicles.

Squaw Island

Squaw Island, the shrinking island of the Finger Lakes, is on the northwest end of the lake (map). It is a sandbar, formed by sediment draining from Sucker Brook to the north. If you look at the satellite map, you will see traces of the sandbar leading from the tributary. During the fall the sandbar may be visible above water. Construction efforts to raise lake levels by damming the outlet has since led to erosion that has claimed more than 70% of its area in less than 200 years. Squaw Island is unique in that it is one of the few places in the world where lime oncolites form. The island is state property and some recent efforts have been made by the DEC to reinforce the shoreline using wooden planks. Today, less than 8,000 square feet remain.

The Skyliner

The Skyliner, Roseland Amusement Park’s classic wooden coaster has been moved to Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Roseland Amusement park is now only a water park.

Canandaigua ice

Ice harvesting on Canandaigua Lake was once a booming industry in the days prior to refrigeration. Distributors on the northern shore would cut large blocks out of the lake in winter and cut and distribute smaller blocks to be used for refrigeration. Today, ice fishing is a popular winter lake activity.

The Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is a summer activity for shoreline residents that’s easy to participate in. Each residence lights a fire or flare along the shore, creating a speckled ring around the lake. This tradition stems from a Seneca Indian harvest festival where the Seneca would burn tobacco around the shore of the lake to give thanks for bountiful harvests. The Ring of Fire takes place on July 3rd of each year.

Grape Pies

Grape Pies are a must if you’re passing through Naples.
Try the following:

Monica’s Pies: 7599 Route 21
Cindy’s Pies: 5 Academy St.
Arbor Hill Winery: 6461 Route 64
Joseph’s Wayside Market: 201 Main St

Related Links

Contact Information

Recent Lakes and Parks Discussion Topics

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