The next lake I have chosen to write about is one that I spent a lot of time on, especially when I was a little girl. I was fortunate enough to have a great-aunt and great-uncle who owned a cottage East Bluff drive, which is the west side of the Penn Yan branch of the lake, up until I was about 12 or 13 years old. Many of my fondest childhood memories are at this cottage. I would spend many summer days (rain or shine as you can see in the picture below) at the cottage; boating, relaxing, fishing and enjoying company of family and friends. I would argue that it is where I got my initial love for the lake. From the time I was a baby, my parents took me out on their boat, which they kept docked at a marina on Keuka. For as long as I can remember one of my favorite things to do was to jump off the boat into the middle of the lake. It is an extremely refreshing, relaxing feeling. I learned to swim primarily in Keuka Lake. (I even took lessons at the Keuka College pool, but any other time I was practicing in the lake). I learned to tube on Keuka Lake. I learned how to drive a boat on Keuka Lake. I learned that Zebra Mussels and snapping turtles are a very real thing on Keuka Lake.
I find that many people often confuse Keuka Lake with Cayuga Lake because when pronounced incorrectly, the sound similar. Keuka Lake is pronounced Cue-Kah. Now, if you see a bumper sticker that says QKA you will know where it is from.
I think that Keuka Lake stands out among the rest of the lakes due to its unique shape. Keuka Lake is shaped in a wishbone or “Y” shape. Early settlers referred to it as the crooked lake. It is the third largest of the Finger Lakes with a maximum depth of 186 feet. It holds about 2.5 trillion gallons of water.
At the North end of the Northeast arm of Keuka Lake lies Penn Yan. At the north end of the northwest arm lies Branchport. At the south end of the lake lies Hammondsport. Penn Yan is home to a restaurant serving arguably the best Fried Chicken and Ice Cream you will ever eat in your whole entire lifetime. It is homemade ice cream and offers many different flavors of both hard and soft ice cream and sherbet. It is only open seasonally and every time I am home I make sure I drive well out of my way to get some Seneca Farms. To get to our family cottage, we had to drive right past Seneca Farms… I am pretty sure we stopped there at the end of every weekend on our way home. There are also some other restaurants worth visiting like Lloyds and Timmy G’s. In addition to high schools around the lake, Keuka College is just outside of Penn Yan with their campus situated right on the water.
Just outside of Branchport is Keuka Lake State Park. There are plenty of campsites, a boat launch, a playground and guarded swimming. For more information about the park visit http://nysparks.com/parks/67/details.aspx. Hammondsport is a very small town, and was voted America’s Coolest Small town a few years ago on travel website. There are shops, a couple of restaurants and the Glenn H Curtiss Museum dedicated to the pioneer aviator Glenn Curtiss. Check out more of the museum at http://www.glennhcurtissmuseum.org/about.php.
Another great “feature” of Keuka Lake, are many restaurants accessible by boat. These include Top of the Lake, The Switzerland Inn (many refer to it as The Switz), the Waterfront and Snug Harbor. When you are ready to get off the lake, it’s easy to head up the surrounding hills and take in some wine tasting at award winning wineries… I’ll save that Finger Lakes living activity for another day!