eautiful scenery on the Skaneateles Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in New York.

11 Most Beautiful Lakes in New York

New York is best known as the Big Apple, the massive city on the Atlantic Ocean with the Five Boroughs. However, many often overlook the natural splendor this beautiful State has to offer visitors and locals alike. The lakes on this list are in Upstate New York, the often-forgotten northern part of the State. These eleven lakes have a lot of natural beauty and many outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy. 

Lake George

A the town of Lake George along the shores of Lake George, New York
The calm waters of Lake George, New York

Lake George is a large body of water located in Northeastern Upstate New York. Its surface is over 30 miles across and 70 feet deep.It's in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains and is one of the largest lakes of the Adirondack Park's 3,000 lakes. This body of water was essential to the Native Mohawk Tribe, who named it Andia-Ta-Roc-Te. The lake shares its name with the town in which it's situated. Lake George, New York, is a favorite tourist destination with many nature paths and boating activities for anyone looking for a break from the city. 

Lake Champlain

A cruise boat on Lake Champlain.
A cruise vessel on Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain is a large waterway in the northeastern end of Upstate New York. However, the whole lake isn't within the borders of New York. Part of the lake stretches into the borders of Vermont to the east and Quebec, Canada, to the north.The Champlain Canal connects the waterway to Hudson Bay, making it an important navigable lake in North America. The lake served as a natural boundary between the Mohawk and Abenaki nations before the colonization of the French and later the British. The lake has several islands, but most of the largest are located on Vermont's border. The surrounding area of Lake Champlain is made of the Chazy Reef, an ancient reef from the Ordovician era. 

Oneida Lake

The aerial view of the waterfront residential area by Oneida Lake with stunning fall foliage near Syracuse, New York
The aerial view of the waterfront residential area by Oneida Lake with stunning fall foliage near Syracuse, New York.

Oneida Lake is the largest body of water located completely within New York's borders. Of course, Lake Champlain and George are larger, but New York shares these waterways with neighboring Canada and Vermont. Oneida Lake gets its name from an alternative name for the Iroquois nation that lived in the area. In the late 17 and early 1800s, the waterway was altered by constructing several canals, including the Erie Canal. Despite its large size, the lake isn't very deep and only reaches 22 feet at its deepest spots. 

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York
Avalanche Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Avalanche Lake is located in northern New York, southwest of Lake Champlain. The region is very cold and mountainous, making the lake a bit treacherous for hiking and boating. The lake is surrounded on both sides by Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain. These peaks stretch over 3,000 feet within the heart of the Appalachian High Peaks. The lake got its name after European settlers found it in the mid-1800s. On August 20th, 1869, a large avalanche occurred in the area, causing mudslides down the mountains and into the lake. After this, European settlers gave it the name Avalanche Lake. 

Lake Erie

Lighthouse Beacon Guidance on Lake Erie in Buffalo New York Mouth of the Niagara River
Lighthouse Beacon Guidance on Lake Erie in Buffalo New York Mouth of the Niagara River.

Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It touches four states, including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and shares a border with Canada. It's the 4th largest Great Lake by size but not by volume. It's fairly shallow compared to the other lakes in the north, which makes it warmer and more favorable for different fish and plant life. The waterway is used for water power plants in the U.S. and Canada but is also a plentiful fishing ground. The lake's shore is a favorite rock-collecting site in Michigan on the southern border of the State and is a good camping site in New York. 

Skaneateles Lake

The Skaneateles Lake in New York.
The beautiful Skaneateles Lake in New York.

Skaneateles Lake is located in central Upstate New York, within the counties of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Cortland. It's a finger lake south of the massive Lake Ontario. It's one of the cleanest waterways in New York and has been used as a primary source of pure water for thousands of years. The Iroquois nation is called the Lake Skaneateles, which means "long lake." It rests at a high altitude of 263 meters, or 863 feet. This height is the reason locals call it the Roof Garden of the Lakes. 

North-South Lake

Looking west over North-South lake from Sunset Rocks.
Looking west over North-South lake from Sunset Rocks. Image credit: Mark Fickett via Wikimedia Commons.

The North-South Lake is a beautiful lake resort in Upstate New York. Despite its name, the North-South Lake is actually located in the southeastern part of Upstate New York, a few miles north of New Jersey and northeast of Pennsylvania. However, the lake is north of the Hudson Valley, where most early visitors originated. However, it was south of the State's northern, less explored, and wilder northern stretches. Therefore, the name North-South Lake stuck. 

The lake is best known for the Catskill Mountain House, built by wealthy investors in 1823. This house became a famous spot for tourists, including businessmen, politicians, and presidents. The house still stands near the modern campgrounds where people get to explore the historic site. One of the most notable features of this region is the peak which reaches over 680 meters (2,500 feet) above sea level. On a clear day, visitors who trek up the mountain can see all five surrounding states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. 

Seneca Lake

The pier at Seneca Lake, New York.

Seneca Lake is the second longest finger lake in Upstate New York. Although, it's the largest by volume, meaning it's the deepest of all the finger lakes in the State. Its depth makes it ideal for navy testing. The Navy tests equipment like sonar and other electronic technology to determine how well the systems work under pressure and within deep waters. However, the lake's also known for its large quantity of wild trout. The area hosts the Trout Derby every year, where locals and tourists compete in a fishing contest on the lake. 

Black Lake

The Black Lake is a large glacial lake in northern Upstate New York. It's one of the furthest north lakes discussed in this article, just south of the Saint Lawrence River in Saint Lawrence County. The Black Lake follows a similar course as the Saint Lawrence River, although it's much smaller. The lake formed approximately 12,000 years ago as the remaining glaciers in the region melted and pooled in large lakes. Most of the lake only reaches 8 feet deep, but certain areas in the middle reach approximately 40 feet deep. 

Mirror Lake

The beautiful Mirror Lake in New York.
The beautiful Mirror Lake in New York.

Mirror Lake is a body of water in the northern parts of the Adirondack Mountains. This makes the surrounding area a beautiful combination of wild woodlands and small towns. The lake is approximately 124 acres long and home to various fish and wildlife. Sadly, the conservation initiatives in the area have found several dangerous industrial chemicals in the water.Although it's still a favorite place for various outdoor activities, including the IRONMAN competition. At the annual IRONMAN competition, people compete in ice skating and dog sled competitions around the lake's perimeter.

Tupper Lake

Waterfront homes along the shores of the Tupper Lake.
Waterfront homes along the shores of the Tupper Lake.

Tupper Lake is a small lake in northern Upstate New York in Adirondack Park of Franklin and St. Lawrence County. It shares its name with a nearby town, Tupper Lake Village, known as the Tri-lake Area. Tupper Lake is just west of Lake Placid, making the region very cold in winter. The lake was named after the first European explorer to locate it, Ansel Tupper. However, native tribes in the area knew of the waterway for centuries before this, but unfortunately, their name for the lake is not remembered. 

Upstate New York greatly contrasts its southern neighbor of New York City. Even though both areas are technically the same State, their cultures and local scenery couldn't be more different. Visiting this area and seeing its natural wonder has been a favorite pass time for city people since the 18th century. Visiting these lakes and the surrounding wilderness is a great way to break away from the rat race and enjoy time in tranquility.


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