Congratulations to Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway as our featured byway in September!
The Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, designated a New York State byway in 2002, is an 87-mile loop route traveling around Cayuga Lake. Scenic views include the lake, farmland, and cultural hubs including historic villages and hamlets. The Byway is dotted with parks, marinas, campgrounds, restaurants, and 28 wineries featuring wines to satisfy all palates.
Cayuga Lake, the heart of the Byway, is the longest of the 11 pristine freshwater lakes that are the defining landscape feature of the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. Lying just 30 miles south of Lake Ontario, the eastern most Great Lake, with the city of Rochester about 50 miles to the west and the city of Syracuse 36 miles to the east, Cayuga Lake is 39 miles long and 435 feet deep at the lowest point.
The glacier-carved Finger Lakes run north and south and actually resemble “fingers” on the map. The lakes are a short drive for residents of New York City, Toronto, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C. seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for a more rural, serene pace. All travelers are welcome!
The area was settled by the Lamokans in 3500 BCE and the Brewerton people in 2000 BCE. Artifacts from both peoples were found on Frontenac Island, located in Cayuga Lake off the shore of the present-day village of Union Springs. The village of Cayuga, at the north end of Cayuga Lake, is named for the indigenous people who were settled along the lake before the American Revolution.
As was then, the lake is home to many species of fish and supports a rich variety of other wildlife. Modern travelers can enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and other recreational activities the area offers. Be sure to stop at Taughannock Falls State Park to view the spectacular 215-foot waterfall, the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
Other sites not to miss include the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at the north end of the lake, a major stop along the Atlantic Flyway for many migrating birds. In the village of Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the Women’s Right movement, visit the Women’s Hall of Fame. Other communities around the lake include Union Springs, Aurora, Interlaken, Trumansburg, and Lansing where you will find small museums, restaurants featuring locally-sourced fare, and unique shops. In the city of Ithaca, at the south end of the lake, Cornell University and Ithaca College, loom large over the city on the east and south hills. Visit a science center, the Cornell Botanic Gardens, and the world-renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the Lab of O), to name a few of the places to experience. Within ten miles of the Byway, you can visit over 150 waterfalls, multiple state parks, and hundreds of miles of hiking and cycling trails.
Whether you are a history buff, recreational adventurer, cultural and winery explorer, or a seeker of peaceful waterfalls, the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway is a MUST for you!
For more information about the Byway and its many programs head to: