Planning your summer or fall vacation with water in mind? Spend a day out on the pristine waters of Cayuga Lake for a truly extraordinary experience. Paddling any of the day trips along the Blueway Trail on Cayuga Lake is a must. As the warm sun surrounds you, with the cool water below and the landscape enticing you, the experience is certain to be amazing. Your vacation will be memorable.
There are hundreds of amazing paddling trips across the U.S., but to help you narrow it down along Cayuga Lake, we produced a list that offers a little something for everyone, from newbies to the seasoned paddler. Remember to take caution and always follow the safety rules for responsible paddling whichever trip you choose.
Cayuga Lake invites you to paddleboard, kayak, and canoe along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway/ Blueway Trail from twelve different access sites surrounding Cayuga Lake. From these twelve sites, you have 24 paddling trips to choose from. At any of these sites you will enjoy the seasonal landscape and stunning blue waters of Cayuga Lake, while viewing different types of wildlife in their own habitat. Don’t worry if you don’t own a paddle craft, Paddledockers, located in Ithaca, offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals. Hourly or Daily fees are available.
Below are three paddling vacation itineraries to choose from along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway/Blueway Trail.
Taughannock Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls State Park is located on Cayuga Lake’s western shore. You can enjoy, not only paddling but, also swimming in the lake at the beach, hiking the trails, and camping under the stars. Here you’ll find Taughannock Falls one of the outstanding natural attractions in the Northeast, the tallest single-drop falls east of the Mississippi. Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge. Gorge and rim trails offer remarkable views above the falls and below at the end of the Gorge Trail. Campsites and cabins overlooking Cayuga Lake are available for lodging.
There are two paddling trips to choose from at Taughannock Falls State Park site. Trip A Taughannock Falls State Park to Myers Park starts out at Taughannock Falls State Park, crosses the lake and follows the eastern shoreline to Myers Park. This trip is approximately 4 miles in length one way and is recommended for the more skilled paddler since you cross the lake. When crossing the lake remember there will be powerboat traffic as well. We highly recommend these trips during the week or during the early morning hours of the weekend.
Trip B Taughannock Falls State Park to Cass Park starts out at Taughannock Falls State Park as well and heads down the western shoreline ending up at Cass Park in Ithaca. This trip is 8 miles long one way. The beauty of these waterway trips is that if you tire earlier than expected all you need to do is turn around and head back to where you started from.
Stretch your legs after your paddle with a hike on one of the trails at Taughannock Falls State Park. The Gorge Trail that leads to the base of the famous Taughannock Falls, is great for leisurely walk being ¾ of a mile in length one way. Feed the appetite you built up paddling with a stop for lunch at one of our local wineries, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery at Mary’s Place, Thirsty Owl’s Bistro or Knapp’s Winery and Restaurant. Wine tasting is a must here along Cayuga Lake as we have 28 wineries to choose from. The two wineries near Taughannock Falls State Park are Lucas Vineyards, the oldest winery on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and Americana Winery known for their homemade fudge and wine pairings. In the evening, let the Discover Cayuga Lake Boat Tour folks take you on another lake-based adventure on the M/V Teal for one of their Sunset Cruises.
This itinerary is a suggestion, for further options check out these other sites, our Byway Destinations, Visit Ithaca or Cayuga Lake Wine Trail for a complete list of accommodations, restaurants, wineries and other hiking trails to choose from.
Cayuga Lake State Park
Cayuga Lake State Park is located at the northern end of Cayuga Lake where the terrain is flat at the lakeshore, perfect for the beach. The park slopes gently uphill where there are numerous campsites and cabins. The extensive, picturesque scenic view of Cayuga Lake is one of the highlights of this park. Another high point here at Cayuga Lake, is the fishing. In the shallow water near the park, largemouth bass, bullheads, and carp flourish. In deeper water, anglers can catch northern pike, smallmouth bass, lake trout, landlocked salmon and many other varieties of fish.
There are two paddling trips from Cayuga Lake State Park that are ideal.
Trip A starts out at Cayuga Lake State Park to John Harris Park located on the eastern side of Cayuga Lake. This trip forms a loop with two lake crossings. The first lake crossing will take you to the east side of Cayuga Lake where you will then head north up the shoreline approximately 2 miles to John Harris Park. The trip continues crossing the lake to the west side and then heading south along the shoreline back to Cayuga Lake State Park. This trip forms a 4.5-mile loop.
Trip B starts out at Cayuga Lake State Park as well crossing to the east of the lake up to John Harris Park. Instead of crossing the lake at this point you continue north along the eastern shoreline to Cayuga-Seneca Canal Lock 1, aka Mud Lock, before heading back to Cayuga Lake State Park. The length of this trip forms an 8.25-mile loop. The fun part of this trip is spotting all the wildlife and enjoying all the bird watching as you travel through the marshlands. (If you do plan to travel further north to experience a lock in a paddle craft, make sure to contact the lockmaster ahead of time at 315-235-7523. There is no charge for paddlers to go through the lock). The beauty of these waterway trips is that if you tire earlier than expected all you need to do is turn around and head back to where you started from.
As your stay here on the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway lengthens, make a visit to Montezuma Winery and Hidden March Distillery, where you’ll have a chance to try wines, wine slushies, homemade fudge, and browse around in their gift shop. At Hidden Marsh Distillery experience tasting handcrafted spirits and liqueurs, pioneers in developing the first of its kind artisan distilling in New York State. Try tastes of Bourbon Whiskey, Bee Vodka, Cherry Pie Liqueur, and Cinnamon Apple Liqueur.
Another fun stop is a visit to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a renowned place for birding and nature photography up at the northern tip of Cayuga Lake along Routes 5 & 20. Here you will see migratory birds, waterfowl, habitats of wetlands, grasslands and shrublands. Ways to enjoy the refuge is by visiting the Visitor Center to view displays and receive information on the refuge, take the 3-mile Wildlife Drive auto tour route, walk the nature trails or take in the views from their viewing towers and platforms.
This itinerary is a suggestion, for further options check out these other sites, our Byway Destinations, Cayuga Lake Wine Trail or Discover Seneca for a complete list of accommodations, restaurants, wineries and other attractions to choose from.
Long Point State Park
Long Point State Park is a 296-acre park located on the east side of Cayuga Lake. This park is situated on a V-shaped piece of land extending out into the water. Long Point State Park is principally a day-use park offering a supervised swimming area, a bathhouse, a playground, a 4-lane boat launch and a picnic area with tables and grills.
Due to easy access to the Cayuga Lake shore, it is an excellent area for paddle boarders and fishermen. This park includes a variety of different habitats and a variety of trees, flowering plants, and wildlife living along the 4.5 miles of hiking trails up slope from the lake.
The park has one full-service cottage on the lake that sleeps four. The cottage comes with a boat dock, picnic table, fire ring and grill, and a small lawn area. There are no other camping facilities at the park.
Two paddling trips are available from Long Point – one 10.5 miles long and the other 11 miles long, both are loop paddles.
Trip A Long Point State Park to Dean’s Cove starts out by heading north along the eastern shoreline of Cayuga Lake for approximately 2.75 miles then crosses the lake to the west heading Dean’s Cove State Boat Launch. The trip then heads south along the western shoreline of Cayuga Lake for about 2.5 miles then crosses the lake to the east heading back to Long Point State Park. This trip is approximately 10.5 miles long.
Trip B Long Point State Park to Sheldrake Point starts out at Long Point State Park and heads south along the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake for 3.5 miles then crosses the lake heading west toward to Sheldrake Park. As you are heading north from Sheldrake, you’ll paddle around 4.5 miles and then proceed to cross the lake to the east heading back to Long Point State Park. This paddle trip is 11 miles long.
Remember the beauty of these waterway trips is that if you tire earlier than expected all you need to do is turn around and head back to where you started from.
Long Point State Park is located just south of the charming village of Aurora and Wells College. Here you can visit MacKenzie Childs, dine at the Fargo Bar and Grill or shop at the Aurora Village Market. The park is near a number of excellent wineries, such as Treleaven Wines or Long Point Winery, and is located midway between the northern and southern ends of the lake.
This itinerary is a suggestion, for further options check out these other sites, our Byway Destinations, or Tour Cayuga for a complete list of accommodations, restaurants, wineries and other attractions to choose from.