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Owasco Lake is the sixth largest of the eleven Finger Lakes. Its name, from a Mohawk or Iroquois term, translates to "crossing." The Finger Lakes were formed thousands of years ago by the region's receding glaciers. Although Owasco Lake is an impressive 177 feet deep, it is relatively shallow compared to Seneca Lake's depth of over 600 feet! Owasco Lake is located entirely in Cayuga County.
Water in all of New York's Finger Lakes flows south to north. Water enters Owasco Lake at the southern end through the Owasco Inlet near the Village of Moravia. Just before the Inlet's creek flows into the lake, it spreads out into the 750-acre wetland known as the Owasco Flats. The Flats are an important breeding habitat for fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals. The Flats host a great blue heron rookery. Tundra swans and loons rest at the lake during migration, and bald eagles and osprey are spotted during breeding season. Sections of the Owasco Inlet Creek are ideal for canoeing and kayaking.
Much of Owasco Lake's shoreline is developed with year-round homes and cottages, so public access is limited. Most public access is at the northern end of the lake at Emerson Park in the Town of Owasco. The park provides recreational facilities and hosts special events throughout the year. The lake's water exits at the Owasco Outlet, which becomes the Owasco River and runs through the City of Auburn. Canoeists and kayakers can enjoy a leisurely ride along the Outlet through Auburn to the Owasco Outlet Dam. The dam, owned and operated by the City of Auburn, controls the outlet's flow and water levels at the lake. Owasco Lake provides more than 70% of the drinking water for Cayuga County.
At 11 miles long and approximately 6,665 acres, the lake offers anglers a wonderful world of possibility. Truly a fishing lake, people fishing on shore often call out to passing boats, "How's the fishing?" The answer: the fishing is great. Look forward to catches of rainbow trout, northern pike, brown trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, and panfish. Fishing on Owasco isn't popular only in the summer months; you can find dedicated anglers ice fishing all throughout the winter months, too.
If fishing isn't your pleasure, then you'll be drawn in by the gentle beauty of the lake and the rich activity offerings of the Finger Lakes region. Idle away your time relaxing in the blue waters, swimming in the cool depths, or canoeing along the shores. When it's time for dry land activities, you'll be thrilled with the possibilities: hiking, biking, golf, skydiving, hot-air ballooning, bird watching, horseback riding, and more await you. In the winter months, you'll be greeted with a plethora of options: snowboarding, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and ice fishing are among the many cold-month activities.
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