Pier and luxury boats docked in the Skaneateles Lake. Editorial credit: PQK / Shutterstock.com

Skaneateles Lake

High in the hills, formed by glaciers, still as pure as the day it was created, Skaneateles Lake is an exceptional gem with unusual makeup and rare beauty. Skaneateles Lake is one of upstate New York's famous finger lakes, a configuration of eleven charming lakes named for their long, narrow shape.

The Roof Garden Of The Finger Lakes

Beautiful scenery on the Skaneateles Lake
Beautiful scenery on the Skaneateles Lake. Editorial credit: PQK / Shutterstock.com

Sitting at an altitude of 863 ft. above sea level, Skaneateles Lake is referred to as the roof garden of the finger lakes as it is the highest of them all. The lake measures 16 miles in length, 1 mile in width, an average depth of 145 ft, a maximum depth of 300 ft, and a volume of 413 billion gallons. 

Skaneateles Lake is packed with rich history, a well-developed infrastructure around the village, and blessed with a perfect climate and natural reserves, serving as a charming hotspot with notable attractions for the tourist trade.

Brief History Of Skaneateles Lake

The Skaneateles territory belonged to the Native Americans of the Six Nations Confederacy, or the Iroquois Confederacy, until the late 1700s. The name of Skaneateles, thus, is derived from the Iroquoian language, meaning "long lake."

Unlike the lakes nearby, and due to its remote location and relative inaccessibility, Skaneateles did not witness early settlements or industrial activity.

However, Skaneateles Lake was seen as the main attraction in the region as it was a focal point and a power source for water mills and machinery of the early industry. Moreover, its stunning beauty was a summer destination for many and a popular resort for wealthy people.

William Henry Seward, who served as a State Secretary for President Lincoln, and lived as a well-traveled American, described Skaneateles Lake as the most beautiful body of water in the world. 

The Second Cleanest Lake In The US

Skaneateles Lake
The entrance staircase leading to the swimming section of Skaneateles Lake closed in winter.

Regarded as the second cleanest of all lakes in the entire United States, so pure that its water is used unfiltered and is one of only six sources in the country that offer unfiltered water. The people of Skaneateles and nearby towns such as Syracuse had been relying on the lake's water supply for almost 200 years. The lake now provides drinking water for more than 220,000 people.

The Syracuse officials enforced some of the most drastic and dramatic environmental regulations to protect the only freshwater supply for many cities in the region. The people of Skaneateles, the city of Syracuse, and its prior officials had done a great job protecting its cleanliness away from toxic and industrial waste for the past decades. 

Unlike other lakes in its surroundings, such as the Onondaga Lake, which was considered one of the most polluted lakes globally, the Skaneateles Lake remains the same jewel as it ever was and a primary source of fresh and clean water for many towns.

The preservation of its clarity and the purity of the lake's sparkling blue water is only done by coarse screen water treatment, followed by adding chlorine and fluoride. The treatment and lake quality preservation alone cost the city of Syracuse around $2.3 million annually.

A Perfect Summer Destination

Pier and luxury boats docked in the Skaneateles Lake. Editorial credit: PQK / Shutterstock.com

Skaneateles Lake and its village are considered among the most beautiful attractions in the United States and central New York. It is a significant tourist summer destination for many visitors worldwide and across the US.

Skaneateles is known for its reception of multimillion-dollar lakeside cottages for the rich, celebrities, and politicians. Some houses intersperse massive farmlands and green zones accessible to the lake. 

Visitors can rent lakeside cottages as bed and breakfasts and enjoy the ambiance of the lake's unique and serene nature. Having such a lovely getaway while embarking on a journey on the lakeside is undoubtedly a relaxing and one-of-a-kind experience.

The village of Skaneateles offers fancy high-quality eateries that are famous for their local fish and fine wineries.

Activities to do at Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles Lake
Gazebo in Clift Park on the shore of Skaneateles Lake. Editorial credit: Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

The lake of Skaneateles features a wide selection of full calendar activities and events. It is well suited for some water activities and recreational activities. A well-spent time in the delightful village of Skaneateles and its lake is definitely worth an experience. 

Visitors can enjoy the water by renting out a boat, sailing on the lake's crystalline water, or getting out on a canoe or a kayak and reaching good fishing spots. Visitors may also enjoy nature by renting a bike and taking the routes around the beautiful body of water of the lake or enjoy a stroll in the beautiful walking trails extended from the public parks around the lake. 

The fresh air, the clear water, the forested ridges all accumulate to deliver an exquisite experience and clear the mind and soul. Viewing the beautiful scenery up from the hills surrounding the lake, where its blue-greenish water shines, is one of the most magnificent aesthetics the lake offers for the eyes.

Environmental Concerns

Views of Skaneateles Lake in Central New York
Views of Skaneateles Lake in Central New York.

The place's desirability due to its unique nature and rare beauty attracts buyers to the area. It motivates more residential development in the watershed, which places an increase in property value. 

Some areas of Skaneateles lake have been seeing more development and agricultural expansions on account of farmland and forestations alongside the lake's shores.

More development automatically results in increased use of chemicals to protect the lawns, such as pesticides and herbicides, which may jeopardize the lake's future and water purity.

Unless organized plans for zoning and environmental controls are severely implemented to prevent further potential damage, we may yet to witness another downfall of another environmental loss that is hard to reclaim.

However, after the harsh lesson learned from the Onondaga Lake experience and considering the past success in preserving Skaneateles Lake for more than 200 years, hope remains that those who are now responsible can commit to protecting the lake and its surrounding. 

This natural and majestic environmental asset must be kept cherished and worth preserving for the sake of our ecosystem and future generations. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


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