Keuka Lake (aka “The Crooked Lady”) is one of eleven Finger Lakes in western New York. It’s easy to pick out on a map due to the unique “Y” or wishbone shape. Many will argue which is the best Finger Lake, but there’s no contest; Keuka wins hands down! It’s just the right size, has pristine water, controlled lake development, hillsides dotted with vineyards and craft breweries, and thriving towns offering quality restaurants, shopping and sightseeing. Even better, we have a knowledgeable, dedicated, and mostly volunteer staff heading up the Keuka Lake Association whose mission is “to preserve and protect Keuka Lake and its natural beauty for future generations.”
I’ve spent a few weeks at Keuka nearly every summer of my life and it’s a place that is so dear to me, I’m at a loss to translate the feeling to words. You can imagine then how special it is to to spend the whole summer – heaven! Chris and I enjoy the beauty of the lake and the opportunity to visit with friends and family, but also have a specific mission to help my dad. He’s been the main caretaker of our two cottages for 30 years and it’s high time for us to take over opening, closing, maintenance, and financial oversight.
2015 marked the first year Chris and I spent the entire summer together at Keuka, a feat we hope to repeat. We expected to learn a lot and whip through much-needed maintenance projects, but we didn’t anticipate one of the healthiest summers of our lives. Why so beneficial? Many contributors, but one biggie: we probably spent 80% of our days outdoors, working, running, and playing in and on the water. Our cottages are so open with huge screened in porches and doors propped wide, even when inside we’re practically outside.
We are normally constrained to 10–14 days at Keuka but with months in the area, we’re able to tear ourselves away from the cottages and explore a bit more. Blog posts (from both 2015 and 2106) are listed below in loose categories:
Sightseeing around Keuka:
- Our Deliciously Decadent Cheat Day in Penn Yan: We stopped at Andy’s BBQ Shack (for fresh donuts!), Spotted Duck Creamery, Keuka Lake Coffee Roasters, Abandon Brewing, and Seneca Farms.
- Keuka Lake Breweries Tour
- Harvest and Artists Market
- Pulteney Fire Department Pancake Breakfast
- Garrett Chapel
Sightseeing in Hammondsport:
- The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
- Pleasant Valley (aka Great Western) Wine Company
- The Hammondsport Art Show
- Hammondsport Music in the Park and Union Block Italian Bistro
- Finger Lakes Boating Museum and the Pleasant Valley Wine Company
- Hammondsport Music in the Park 2016: The 2016 line-up with links to band websites.
- The Hammondsport Antique Boat Show and Regatta: Usually held the 3rd weekend in July.
- Hiking the Finger Lakes Trail: This trip summary provides an overview map with all of the hikes listed below along with online resources, tips, and a packing checklist.
- Training for the A.T. on the Finger Lakes Trail System: The Bristol Hills Branch Trail from Elmboise Rd. to Bog Spur (5 miles out-and-back, so 2.5 miles one way)
- Hiking the Bristol Hills Trail: Two Rod Road to the Huckleberry Bog Loop (6.2 mile loop)
- Hiking the Bristol Hills Trail: Two Rod Road to Mitchellsville Road (7.2 mile out-and-back)
- Hiking the Bristol Hills Trail: Mitchellsville Road to the FLT (8.0 mile out-and-back)
- Hiking the Finger Lakes Trail: Mitchellsville Gorge (9.2 mile out-and-back). The most scenic section of this trail is just 2.5 miles one way, so a 5-mile round trip hike.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking in the Finger Lakes During Deer Fly Season. I wrote this article out of desperation after being driven off a trail by deer flies – they’re a buzzing, biting menace!
- Chased off the Hi Tor Blue Trail! Yup. Chased off by deer flies.
- Hiking the Finger Lakes Trail: Sand Pit Road to Newton Road (12.3 mile out-and-back). My favorite hike – gorgeous views! I returned for a second, shorter hike from Robbins Road to the Pucker Bush Overlook (2.8 mile out-and-back).
- Hiking the Bristol Hills Trail: Elmboise Road to Patch Road (13 mile out-and-back)
- Hiking the Finger Lakes Trail: Route 54 to Longwell Road (14.2 mile out-and-back)
Exploring further afield:
- Watkins Glen State Park
- Corning Museum of Glass and The Rockwell Museum
- 3 Waterfalls, 1 Battle, and 2 Flights of Crisp Apple Cider: We hiked the glen at Stony Brook State Park, saw the Battle of Lain’s Mill, and tasted cider from Cider Creek Hard Cider.
- The Cardboard Boat Regatta: Push, Pull, or Paddle to the Finish! This hilarious race is the headline event at the Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival on Seneca Lake.
Other Keuka-related stuff:
- Jake’s Boat Livery and Mini-Mart
- Keuka Lake Association Annual Meeting
- The PeaceWeavers Thunder Mountain Peace Sanctuary
I loved and valued my time at Keuka, hated to leave, and hope to have a repeat next summer.