New York Hiking, Nature December 21, 2022
Here Are 16 Of The Most Beautiful Lakes In New York, According To Our Readers
New York captivates with its sprawling national parks, twinkling city lights, and vibrant urban beaches. But locals know that some of New York’s prettiest spots are tucked away from the crowds. In fact, New York offers some of the most enticing and remote natural beauty in the country, making it an idyllic getaway for lovers of the great outdoors. But when it comes to our state’s thousands of scenic lakes, we couldn’t possibly pick a favorite! So, we turned to our
New York Only readers and asked them to nominate their picks for the most gorgeous bodies of water in New York. And you delivered! From New York’s crowning jewels to under-the-radar hidden gems, here are 16 of the most beautiful lakes in New York as voted by YOU:
1. Avalanche Lake
Tucked away in the Adirondack backcountry, a challenging hike and scramble leads to one of the most uniquely spectacular lakes in New York: Avalanche Lake. The trail to Avalanche Lake is a magnificent one through the High Peaks Wilderness, with stunning views of Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain rising up around the water, enveloping the lake in lush green beauty in spring and summer. In winter, the snowy views are perhaps even more phenomenal.
Avalanche Lake, Keene, NY 12943, USA
2. Cayuga Lake
As one of the longest Finger Lakes in New York, it makes sense that Cayuga Lake would boast a little extra magic as well. From lake-side wine trails to lush state parks to family memory-making against a backdrop of truly phenomenal sunsets, Cayuga is a New York favorite for good reason.
Cayuga Lake, New York, USA
3. Chautauqua Lake
This long and narrow lake runs from Jamestown to Mayville and is renowned for its fishing and recreational opportunities. But in between these two historic cities lies a stunning, glittering body of water that dazzles in the sun and beckons like an endless ice ribbon during winter. This is a brilliant place to go for a sunset sail on the water!
4. Green Lake
Vibrantly hued and surrounded by lush forest, the aptly-named Green Lake is the larger of Green Lakes State Park's two glacial lakes. Uniquely, Green Lake is a meromictic lake, which means that fall and spring waters do not mix - an attribute which contributes to the lake's namesake color, in addition to its unique mineral properties. Most lakes in New York are dimictic. But science aside, this gorgeous, jewel-like lake is an absolute treasure!
Green Lakes State Park, 7900 Green Lakes Rd, Fayetteville, NY 13066, USA
5. Keuka Lake
Another one of New York's vibrant Finger Lakes, Keuka Lake is special for a multitude of reasons! Eons ago, this unique "Y"-shaped lake was all as one, until glacial evets caused it to split down the middle. But that's not all that history changed about this brilliant body of water. In splitting the lake in two, these same glacial events also created a reverse flow of drainage that now runs south-to-north in East Keuka. To this day, Keuka Lake one of few lakes in the world that flows both north and south. The result is a sparkling landmark that dazzles from every angle.
Keuka Lake, New York, USA
6. Lake Erie
No list of New York's most beautiful lakes would be complete without our state's icy showstopper. Locals know that frigid breezes are a trademark of this shared Great Lake, but braving the chill is well worth it for the magnificent sunsets. And in summer, these crisp waters are the perfect place to play, catch a scenic ferry, explore lighthouses, and enjoy the magic of the season.
Lake Erie State Park, Lake Erie State Pk, Portland, NY, USA
7. Lake George
The Queen of American Lakes and the home of the
original lakefront vacation destination, Lake George is a truly historic lake that is featured in the memories of countless New Yorkers. The clear water, the abundant recreation, the iconic scenery, and even the sheer size of this lake in the heart of New York has earned it numerous accolades over the decades. In fact, of all of the nominees we received for the most beautiful lake in New York, Lake George received the most votes by a landslide.
Lake George, NY 12845, USA
8. Lake Lila
Lake Lile is perhaps the most underrated lake on our list, tucked away in the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area in Hamilton County. Clear, gentle, and off-limits to motorized boats, Lake Lila is an absolute dream for paddlers and backwoods campers alike who crave a peaceful escape in the depths of Upstate New York.
Lake Lila, Long Lake, NY 12847, USA
9. Lake Minnewaska
If swimming, paddling, bouldering, hiking, and beach-lounging in the same landscape that houses dozens of waterfalls and boasts stunning, craggy shorelines sounds positively dreamy, then Lake Minnewaska is the place to be. The dramatic landscape of the region only intensifies the beauty of the sunsets, which can be enjoyed right from the water, or from any of the magnificent lake overlooks. This is true all-seasons beauty right here!
Lake Minnewaska, Rochester, NY 12525, USA
10. Lake Ontario
Lower New York is already blessed with dozens of beautiful coastal beaches that offer brilliant views of the Atlantic. But Lake Ontario comes pretty close to the real deal when it comes to wild and untamed ocean beauty... and it's right here Upstate! Because of its incredible depth, Lake Ontario never fully freezes, and the rhythmic "tides" of the water are as soothing as they are beautiful.
11. Lake Placid
Winding river-like underneath the towering watch of many of the New York's renowned High Peaks, Lake Placid offers beauty unlike anywhere else in the state. Trails around the water offer stunning views in every season, but it's no secret that the Lake Placid region is the winter sports capital of the state. That means epic skating, ice fishing, dogsledding, and some of the most incredible misty and snow-covered hill views you can imagine. At sunrise, the Alpenglow is nothing short of spectacular.
Lake Placid, NY 12946, USA
12. Lake Champlain
New York may share Lake Champlain with Vermont, but it's New York's Adirondacks that make this lake a stunner in every season. This moody lake changes with the seasons and weather in the most dramatic ways, which makes it the perfect spot for epic photography.
Lake Street, Lake St, Champlain, NY, USA
13. Oneida Lake
As New York's largest self-contained boy of water, Oneida Lake never disappoints with its expansive views and colorful displays. The shallow water is warmer than most of New York's most popular lakes, which makes this gem perfect for diving right in. There's a reason why Oneida is the home of so many family memories!
Oneida Lake, New York, USA
14. Oxbow Lake
Oxbow Lake is an angler's dream. With some of the cleanest water in the state, gorgeous views of the Adirondacks, and crowd-free shorelines, it really doesn't get much better than this! (And the fish seem to agree.)
Oxbow Lake, New York, USA
15. Raquette Lake
As the largest natural lake in the Adirondacks, Raquette Lake is a true treasure tucked away in the trees. The lake's 100 miles of scenic, pine-covered shoreline create a unique, peaceful haven that seems to radiate relaxation. Enjoy the natural beauty the old fashioned way, or hop on a ferry to enjoy an idyllic lake cruise. Either way, this lake is truly at the heart of one of New York's most vibrant landscapes.
Raquette Lake, NY 13360, USA
16. Skaneateles Lake
The crisp, tropical-colored waters of Skaneateles are a brilliant and refreshing sight on a hot summer's day. Skaneateles Lake has been unofficially called the most beautiful body of water in the world, but more officially, the second-cleanest lake in the country. Uniquely, Skaneateles sits higher than any of the other Finger Lakes, which contributes to the clarity. As the longest of the finger Lakes, the terrain also varies greatly between the north and south shores. But all that scenic diversity just makes for an even better paddle and a lifetime of corners to explore!
Skaneateles Lake, New York, USA
This short list doesn’t even come close to showcasing all of the most beautiful lakes in New York… but you won’t find views like these anywhere else, that’s for sure! A huge thank you to everyone who sent in their photos and stories – we loved them all! To see more gorgeous photos and scroll through the (literally) hundreds of nominees, check out our
original post on New York Only and give our page a follow. Or, join our New York Nature Lovers group to see even more of the most beautiful places in the Empire State!
If you’re having a hard time choosing where to start, take this New York Lake Road Trip Through the Adirondacks. Address: Lake George, NY 12845, USA Address: Lake Erie State Park, Lake Erie State Pk, Portland, NY, USA Address: Lake Lila, Long Lake, NY 12847, USA Address: Lake Placid, NY 12946, USA Address: Keuka Lake, New York, USA Address: Chautauqua Lake, NY, USA Address: Lake Street, Lake St, Champlain, NY, USA Address: Oneida Lake, New York, USA Address: Skaneateles Lake, New York, USA Address: Raquette Lake, NY 13360, USA Address: Oxbow Lake, New York, USA Address: Cayuga Lake, New York, USA Address: Green Lakes State Park, 7900 Green Lakes Rd, Fayetteville, NY 13066, USA Address: Lake Minnewaska, Rochester, NY 12525, USA Address: Avalanche Lake, Keene, NY 12943, USA
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