Hemlock lake with calm waters and undeveloped shoreline
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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Spanning Livingston and Ontario Counties, New York.

Surrounding Communities: Conesus; Glenville; Hemlock; Springwater

Maps: Google MapTopographic; Rob’s Trail Map; Forest Trail Map

GPS Coordinates:

  • Northern Outlet N 42.77726 / W 77.61583
  • Southern tip N 42.66767 / W 77.60107


  • Area: 1,800 acres
  • Length: 7 miles
  • Max width: 0.5 Miles

Max depth: 91 feet.

Volume: 29 billion gallons.

Water Quality: Very Good.

Elevation: 905 feet

Directions: NY-15A runs along the east side of Hemlock Lake and has access roads to the park on the north end of the lake at Glenville. Use Google Maps

A gazebo with the best views of Hemlock Lake on a sunny day




Hemlock and Canadice Lakes once blended in with the rest of the Finger Lakes with cottages along the shore. In 1872 the City of Rochester began buying up the properties surrounding the lakes in preparation for making them a source of clean drinking water for the city. In 1876, Rochester and neighboring communities began utilizing the lakes as a fresh water supply. By 1947, the city had purchased and removed all the cottages from the shore and some adjacent to tributaries to protect the water from contamination due to development. This protected area now adds up to over 7,100 acres of watershed around the two lakes.  In 2010, much of the city’s land was sold to the state and is run under the management of the Department of Environmental Conservation as Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.

With Lake Ontario being a vast, closer fresh water supply, one would wonder why Rochester would consider looking elsewhere, especially two smaller lakes 25 miles to the south. The answer lies in the lakes’ elevations, which are significantly higher than both Lake Ontario and the city. Having a set of lakes at elevations higher than the city allows for natural water pressure to build up and decreases the need for robust pumping equipment. It also helps to have an isolated and controlled environment in order to preserve the cleanliness of the city’s water. The northern end of Hemlock Lake is capped with a clean and peaceful grassy park, excellent for get-togethers or a relaxing read. It also offers an excellent view of the lake and an interesting look at the development that has taken place to convert the lake into a water supply.

In 2010 New York State acquired the land surrounding both Hemlock and Canadice Lakes from the city and established Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, a 6,800-acre preserve.

The rest of the areas around the lake are unspoiled and offer hikers and fishermen a very peaceful and unique sportsman experience. Boating is allowed but there are strict restrictions on boat size and speed.

A flood dam at the north end of hemlock lake

Hemlock Lake Parks / Beaches / Access Points

A permit is no longer required.

Hemlock Lake Park

Description: This beautiful lakeside park has an amazing view of the lake looking south, a wonderful picnic area, with large fields for play, and an interesting look at part of the water supply infrastructure for the City of Rochester.

Directions: North end of the lake off of Bald Hill Road. Google Maps.

Pets: OK on leash, must be cleaned up after. Not allowed near or in the water.

Seasons/Hours: Year round

Parking: A parking lot at north entrance (20 Cars) off of Rt. 15A. Space for 30 cars or more.

Handicap accessibility: Yes, some facilities adjacent to the parking area

Best time to visit: Year round. Spectacular foliage in the fall.

Swimming: Not allowed at all. Pets are not allowed to swim either.

Boat Launch: There is a boat launch at the north entrance (on the East side of the Lake) and one hand/car-top launch at the southeast end of the Lake. Both off of 15A. (Map)

Accommodations: Restrooms; benches; fishing; historic signs; picnic areas; playground.

Contact: DEC: (607) 776-2165; [email protected]

A close up of the smooth, calm waters of Hemlock Lake
An old mill stone on display at the part at Hemlock Lake

Hemlock-Canadice State Forest and Rob’s Trail

Description: The Hemlock-Canadice lakefronts, as well as additional watershed land that encompasses the 6,684 acre state forest, was established to protect the two lakes and the Rochester water supply from contaminants. You are free to explore this land, as long as you adhere to the rules set up by the DEC. Read more here.

The nature Conservancy has created Rob’s Trail, a foot trail that extends from the east shore of Hemlock Lake and the west shore of Canadice.

Directions: Trails lead from the boat launch areas, or west of Hemlock Lake Park.

Pets: OK on leash, must be cleaned up after. Not allowed near or in the water.

Admission: Free.

Parking: Roadside.

Handicap accessibility: No.

Swimming: Not allowed.

Boat Launch: There is a boat launch at the north entrance (on the East side of the Lake) and one hand/car-top launch the southeast end of the Lake. Both off of 15A. (Map)

Accommodations: Fishing; trails; no restrooms.

Maps:  Forest BrochureRob’s Trail Guide

Contact: DEC: 518-402-892; [email protected]

A family of geese swimming across Hemlock Lake
A guide to New York's Finger Lakes

More Finger Lakes Guides

Explore more of New York’s Finger Lakes parks, beaches, nature trails, waterfalls and more in our handy guides.

Fishing Information

Common species

Lake trout; brown trout; rainbow trout; landlocked salmon; smallmouth bass; largemouth bass; chain pickerel; smelt; alewives; bullhead; yellow perch; rock bass; pumpkinseed; white crappie.

Best fishing spot

The best place to fish is along the shore on the east side of the lake, from one of the many small trails that lead to the lake from the old East Lake Road.

Fishing conditions

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

Hemlock Lake on a summer afternoon.

Nearby Waterfalls

Reynolds Gully information

Interesting Stuff

Old Growth

Along the southwest shore, you will find over 415 acres of untouched, old-growth forest, comprised mainly of Hemlock, Beech, Sugar Maple and Oak trees.

Water Source

The City of Rochester filters and purifies the water at the lakes prior to piping it north. Water from Hemlock Lake requires a bit of pumping, while water from Canadice Lake flows completely by gravity.

Look out above

Keep your eye on the skies. The untouched shores and forests surrounding the lakes are an excellent nesting habitat for bald eagles and waterfowl.

Eagle Crest Preserve

The Nature Conservancy purchased land along the west side of the lake bordering city-owned land (where it was thinnest) to help shield the lake from development. This wooded and gully-filled land is dubbed Eagle Crest Preserve.

Rob’s Trail

The trail is named after the late Rob van der Stricht, former board chairman of the local chapter of The Nature Conservancy. This trail serves as a tribute to his dedication to conservation and his love of the Finger Lakes region.


Founded in 1830, and once located on the outlet at the north end of the lake, the village of Jacksonville grew to encompass 130 houses, 10 mills, and 2 distilleries. The opening of the Erie Canal at Livonia to the north started the decline of the once prospering village, and by 1856 it was uninhabited and the land was acquired by the city of Rochester.

A mysterious shed in a line a trees in the park at the north end of Hemlock Lake
A mill Stone and Historic Marker at Hemlock Lake Park.
A panoramic view of Hemlock Lake

Who to Contact

General water concerns:
NYSDEC Bureau of Fisheries
625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233
Phone (518) 402-8920
E-mail: [email protected]

State boat launches/access
NYSDEC Region 8
6274 East Avon-Lima Road
Avon, NY 14414
Phone (585) 226-2466
E-mail: [email protected]

A sign showing the rules for this preserved water