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9 Most Beautiful Lakes in Syracuse You Must Visit

With various well-renowned museums, art galleries, and performance centers, Syracuse is one of the most vibrant and popular tourist destinations in Onondaga County, New York. This city is close to several beautiful lakes and finger lakes which offer various recreation opportunities.

Here are the nine most beautiful lakes in Syracuse you won’t want to miss.

9 Stunning Lakes in Syracuse

1. Green Lakes State Park

The 1,955-acre Green Lakes State Park has two glacial lakes: Round Lake and Green Lake. They are meromictic lakes, meaning they have layers of water that don’t mix, making them an unusual blue-green color. 

Furthermore, both of them are surrounded by upland forests.

Round Lake

Green lakes state park Round Lake
Round Lake, Green Lakes State Park, Fayetteville, New York PC Eric A. Schiff Wikicommons

The Round Lake has a surface area of 34 acres and is 170 feet deep.

Green Lake

Green Lake is slightly smaller than Round Lake, about 65 acres in area. However, it’s deeper and is 195 feet in its maximum depth.

In addition to the lakes, the Green Lakes State Park also has an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, a legendary golf course architect. The fishes include rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, and rock bass.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 10 miles

Activities Allowed: Sunbathing, Sandy Beach, Swimming, Boathouse, Fishing, Golfing, Skiing, Mountain Biking, Camping, Boating, Kayaking, Picnic Areas

Note: Private boats or canoes aren’t allowed due to the sensitive nature of these lakes.

You might enjoy reading some of my other articles on nearby Rochester New York:
Waterfalls in Rochester New York
Kayaking near Rochester New York
Haunted Houses in Rochester New York
Best Parks in Rochester

2. Cazenovia Lake

Being a lake within a village, Cazenovia Lake offers various paid and free activities, including fishing, swimming, sightseeing, dining, and more.

The 1,1674 acres area of this alluring lake has a shoreline length of about 9.5 miles and a maximum depth of 45 feet. It’s filled with small and large fishes of many species, including rock bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed, black crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, white sucker, walleye, and brown bullhead.

Cazenovia Lake
Cazenovia Lake

The 133-acre Helen L. McNitt State Park on the northeastern shore of Cazenovia Lake can be used to launch kayaks and canoes. Do keep in mind that only two pets are allowed in the park.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 18.2 miles

Activities Allowed: Boating, Kayaking, Swimming, Fishing, Water Skiing, Tubing, Wakeboarding, Wine and Beer Tasting, Historic Site Visit, Bird watching, Cafe and Inn

Accommodation: Various hotels are available in Cazenovia Village.

Check out my articles on large inland lakes in the US.

3. Cross Lake

Cross Lake has an area of 1947 acres. It’s situated on the border of Cayuga and Onondaga counties, and the Seneca River flows through it. Thus, it’s a popular destination for fishing, as various species from the river can be found here.

Some fish dwelling on the Cross Lake includes the walleye, yellow perch, white perch, tiger muskie, northern pike, and largemouth bass. Others include the black crappie, black bullhead, bluegill, channel catfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, gizzard shad, longnose gar, and sheepshead.

Cross Lake Syracuse
Cross Lake Syracuse

Cross Lake also has two islands. Though you can’t camp on them, you can still use them for sightseeing, fishing, or waterfowl hunting.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 24 miles

Activities Allowed: Fishing, Boating, Picnic, Hunting, Canoeing, Wakeboarding, Kayaking, Water Skiing

Note: You can’t swim or bathe in the Cross Lake Islands. Furthermore, overnight storage of boats or damaging living vegetation is also out of bounds.

4. Onondaga Lake

In contrast to Green Lake, Onondaga Lake is dimictic, meaning that the layers of water mix completely at least once a year. And this lake is famous as both a tourist destination and a sacred place in Onondaga County.

Onondaga Lake is about 4.6 miles long and 1 mile wide. In the past, it has suffered many environmental disasters due to being close to various industrial areas. However, restoration efforts were started in the early 1900s, which included banning swimming, fishing, and other activities, and now the lake’s clean and has returned to its earlier glory days.

Onondaga Lake
Onondaga Lake

About 60 species of fish roam in Onondaga Lake, which is a huge improvement from the past; in 1928, there were only ten remaining species in this lake.

The Onondaga area also has four parks, including the Onondaga Lake Park, Onondaga Lake Park Marina, Long Branch Park, and Wegmans Good Dog Park.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 5.3 miles

Activities Allowed:

In the lake:

Fishing, Boat Launch, Canoeing, Kayaking, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding

In the Onondaga County parks:

Archery, Athletic Fields, Baseball, Parties, Picnics, Boat Launch, Disc Golf, Sledding, Shuffleboard, Hiking, Skateboarding, etc.

5. Lake Oneida

With an area of about 50,894 acres, Oneida Lake is the largest lake in New York. It’s close to Green Lake and feeds Oneida River, which eventually confluences with the Seneca River.

This lake is a popular fishing destination for yellow perches and wall eye. Other species include freshwater drum, smallmouth bass, northern pike, largemouth bass, tiger muskellunge, etc. It also houses lake sturgeon, an endangered species.

Lake Oneida
Lake Oneida

When visiting Oneida Lake, you can also relax at the Verona Beach State Park and Oneida Shores Park on this lake’s western and eastern shores. Not to mention the Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area on the northern end, where you can see or even hunt various animals like white-tailed deer and waterfowl.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 17.7 miles

Activities Allowed: Swimming, Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Water Skiing, Camping, Picnics, Tubing, Sailing, and many more.

6. Skaneateles Lake

The clear blue water of the Skaneateles can get every visitor in awe. This lake is so pristine that it offers drinking water to about 200,000 homes between Skaneateles and Central New York.

Skaneateles translates to ‘long lake’ in one of the local languages. The lake is about 16 miles long and has an area of about 8960 acres. 13 species of fish reside in this water body, which include rainbow trout, lake trout, lake whitefish, cisco, smallmouth bass, rock bass, and landlocked salmon, among others.

Skaneateles Lake lakes in Syracuse
Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles Lake is a perfect destination for people who want to enjoy various landmarks and scenic features. It’s close to Carpenter Falls and the historic New Hope Mill (even if it’s closed to the public). The high town of Niles on the west will offer various activities, and you can also stay in Glen Haven.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 18.7 miles

Activities Allowed: Hiking trials, Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Biking, Canoeing, Picnic Areas

7. Jamesville Reservoir

Jamesville Reservoir is another lake located in the Onondaga County facility. Originally constructed to supply water to the Erie Canal, this reservoir has become a popular holiday destination because of its availability of fish and Jamesville Beach Park.

Jamesville Reservoir
Jamesville Reservoir

Jamesville Reservoir is 224 acres and has 13 fish species, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, tiger musky, and brown bullhead. On the other hand, the sandy beach park has 100 yards of lifeguarded waterfront and a playground for children.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 10 miles

Activities Allowed: Swimming, Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Disc Golf, Picnic Areas, Playground, Volleyball, Hiking Trails

8. Otisco Lake

Otisco Lake is an artificial lake created by constructing two separate dams in 1869 and 1908. It’s the easternmost and the eighth-biggest finger lake in the area.

A causeway in the south divides Otisco Lake into two basins. The one in the south is shallow and turbid, while the main lake is deep and has very clear water.

Otisco Lake
Otisco Lake

Otisco Lake is 1877 acres and offers ideal conditions for various aquatic plant and animal lives. It has about 19 fish species and is a popular destination for panfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and tiger muskellunge.

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 14.9 miles

Activities Allowed: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Canoeing, Hiking, Wakeboarding, and more.

9. Salmon River Reservoir

Salmon River reservoir is located in Oswego County in the hamlet of Redfield. Thus, locals also refer to it as the Redfield Reservoir.

This lake occupies an area of about 2,660 acres and has fluctuating water levels around the year. However, the reservoir is stocked regularly with fish, mostly walleye, and you should also be able to get other species, including smallmouth and largemouth bass, brown trout, brook trout, black crappie, and rainbow trout.

Salmon River Reservoir
Salmon River Reservoir

The Salmon River State Forest is on the north side of this reservoir. It’s a great place for bird sighting, and while it also has a fishing platform, you should only be able to use it when the water levels are high (in June or July).

Additional Information

Distance from Syracuse: 37.2 miles

Activities Allowed: Fishing, Camping, Boating, Snowmobiling, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, and more.

More Lakes in Syracuse

Continuing the above list, this table lists other lakes near downtown Syracuse:

LakeDistance from Syracuse
Lake Ontario43 miles
Seneca Lake64.3 miles
Cayuga Lake 41.2 miles
Owasco Marine27 miles
Delta Reservoir52.9 miles
lake ontario frozen ontario
Lake Ontario frozen

Final Words

Syracuse is a great place to visit, even a haven for people who like water and fishing. There’re many great lakes within an hour’s drive, most of which also have parks and swimming areas.

I covered all the costs of writing this post on lakes in Syracuse. However, this post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on one of the links in the article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission.

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