Our focus on the Finger Lakes this month is Cayuga Lake. Travel the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, an 87-mile loop around the lake, and you will find will find deep gorges, waterfalls, incredible landscape views, tourist and cultural attractions and more! You will also find several wonderful public access areas where everyone can enjoy the lake! This route boasts two NY State Parks with camping facilities on the west side of the lake, one of the largest inland marinas in New York State at the south end, a 5.5 mile paved multi-use path connecting favorite waterfront destinations, and another NY State Park and village waterfront parks on the east side.
Spring is here and it’s the perfect time to make plans for day trips, a long weekend, or family vacation right here in our beautiful Finger Lakes. Here are a few ideas to get you started around Cayuga Lake.
As I sit in front of my computer mulling over ideas for our Museum blog I find myself repeatedly distracted by the activity outside my window. Here in the Finger Lakes, over the past couple of days, Meteorologists (of the human species) have been alerting us to an approaching 'significant' snow event. Have you ever noticed an increase in wildlife activity when there is a storm approaching? I have to say, there is a flurry of wildlife activity in our backyard today.
I love bird watching and have two tube feeders, 2 tray feeders, a suet feeder and a heated birdbath within view of my seat right now. As a Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch participant for the past 23 years I confess to spending more than a few hours each week, from November to April, sitting right here looking out the window. Today all the feeding stations are busy enough that, at times, there are birds sitting on the railing, on the pulley line, and in the nearby trees, waiting for a chance...
Did you know that Taughannock Falls - "tuh-GAN-uck" is 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls and it is the highest single-drop waterfall in the north east? According to the Paleontological Research Institution (https://www.priweb.org/) Taughannock gorge was formed as the creek cut through 400 feet of shale. The result was a broad delta on the west side of Cayuga Lake where Taughannock Falls State Park now stands. The park was created in 1925 and, like many State Parks in the Finger Lakes area, the Civilian Conservation Corps built much of the infrastructure in the 1930s.
I often travel to Ithaca and always try to make time to stop by to view the falls. Rock falls are not uncommon sending chucks of limestone to the gorge floor so there is a chance the gorge will look different one visit to the next. Also, the water flow over the caprock varies thanks to rain, snow and droughts, and the trees, shrubs and wildflowers around the gorge change color with the seasons.
One of my favorite activities during our 2018 Focus on the Finger Lakes campaign has taken place when I return home from one of our lake adventures. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing like experiencing all the beauty of our eleven Finger Lakes in person but for me the adventure continues as I go back through my pictures and take time to learn a little about the history of the images in them.
The Teasel Capital of the World!
In the 1840's a gentleman by the name of John Snook brought cultivated teasel seed to Skaneateles from England. Teasel had been used there for centuries to comb the nap of woolen goods. The locally grown teasels quickly gained a reputation as superior to imported teasel and became a major cash crop for local farmers. Cultivated teasel is not the same as the wild teasel we encounter today. It is believed to be extinct here in the Finger Lakes now, having been displaced by two wild strains.
Thayer House and Thayer Park Main Street Skaneateles
Seneca Lake, our featured Finger Lake for the month of August, is home to two New York State Parks. Seneca Lake Sate Park began as a 141-acre municipal park developed by the city of Geneva in 1922. In 1957 the park was transferred to the state of New York and opened as Seneca Lake State Park. Sampson State Park, a much larger park covering 2,070 acres and located a few miles south of Geneva, was created in 1960. Sampson State Park is a popular destination for boating, picnics, swimming and camping, but did you know that, like its neighbor the former Seneca Army Depot, it has roots in military history?
With the outbreak of World War II the second largest naval training station in the country, named for Rear Admiral William T. Sampson from Palmyra, NY, acquired the lake side farm land that is known as Sampson State Park today. In May of 1942 plans were announced to build next to what was then known as the Army Ordnance Depot. Six days after that announcement contractors were...
During the month of July we are celebrating Canandaigua Lake, so the FLM&A adventure team set out on the West River for a leisurely afternoon paddle. This lazy stream flows through the Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area, into the southern end of Canandaigua Lake, with three possible launch sites:
1) West River Fishing Access Site. Look for the signs off Rt. 245 north out of Naples and left onto Sunnyside Road - this is a dirt/grass launch site. From here it is about a 4 mile paddle to the lake.
2) Off Rt. 245 (north of Naples) look for the DEC sign for Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area – West River Unit . This site has an EZ Launch® Accessible Transfer System, an ADA compliant launch that provides individuals with disabilities accessibility.
3) NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) launch site on Rt. 21, with a large parking area, in Woodville. This launch is at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake; West River will be across the lake a bit to your right.
I just LOVE the Finger Lakes! While I have never lived on a lake, I was born and raised at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake and now live just minutes north of Keuka Lake. While not every Finger Lake has expanses of public areas to roam around, Cayuga and Keuka do, giving someone like me plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the beauty our 11 lakes have to offer. So, when I found myself up before the birds this morning, I decided to take the short drive down to Branchport, on the west branch of Keuka Lake, to take a stroll along Sugar Creek through the Verdi Burtch Memorial Bird Sanctuary and out to the lake.
Verdi Burtch (1868-1945) was a Branchport general store proprietor. The Burtch brothers constructed the present building at the corners in 1901 and ran it for decades. Now known as the Crooked Lake Mercantile, the store still operates today. Burtch was also a wildlife photographer, a musician, lecturer, nature writer, and amateur ornithologist who loved bi...
During the month of May we are celebrating Conesus Lake, our most westerly Finger Lake. Early in the month, when we were all beginning to think spring would never arrive, the Adventure Team set out to explore the Conesus Inlet Wildlife Management Area at the southern end of the lake. The Conesus Inlet WMA contains over 1,120 acres, land purchased in the late 1960's by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife manages this area which is a vital wetland resource and includes a major northern pike spawning grounds.
The area is divided into two parts, the inlet side north of Sliker Hill Road, and the lagoon side south of Sliker Hill Road. On the north side you will find an
information kiosk and the nature trail which leads to a boardwalk and observation platform at the lake. The trails are roughly marked but this is a wonderful place to explore marshland habitat with lots of bird watching opportunities. We visited too late i...
Otisco Lake Park, a 3-acre park on the northeastern lake front, and the DEC Fishing Access Site on the western end of the Causeway, offer the only public access to Otisco Lake. Take a drive around this 5.4 mile long lake and you won't find a public swimming area or motor boat launch but you can still easily fill a day exploring the area. The Museum Adventure Team did just that when we ventured out on a very cold Saturday morning recently to explore Otisco Lake. Our first stop was the Baltimore Woods Nature Center located about 10 minutes north of the lake. What a hidden treasure we found!
Thanks to the work of some very dedicated community members, Baltimore Woods Nature Centerhas been connecting people with nature since 1966! In the beautiful John A. Weeks Interpretive Center we were greeted by helpful staff and volunteers. There we found a Discovery Library for children, the art gallery, a large program room, a gift shop, and Miss Hiss, a northern pine snake.
Honeoye Creek, a tributary of the Genesee River, emerges from the north end of Honeoye Lake where, with a lot of help from the Honeoye Lake Rotary Club, a swampy area has been transformed into a beautiful park . At Sandy Bottom Park and Nature Trail you will find a sandy beach, a bath house, pavilions, a tennis court, a basketball court, a softball field, a volleyball sand court and two playgrounds.
North of the beach area, the creek flows into a catchment area before flowing into grassy wetlands. Here you will find a quiet place to sit under the trees and the entrance to the nature trail. The trail is an easy, flat hike of .8 miles, half of which is grass/dirt trail, the other half on raised boardwalks where you will find seats along the way to rest, and enjoy nature.
While it is a little too early to think about swimming in the lake, the nature trail is open year round. Don't forget your boots though, sections of the trail can get quite muddy during the wet seasons. Sandy Bottom Par...