The 15 Biggest Lakes in New York

Written by Taiwo Victor
Published: April 26, 2022
Image Credit Mark Castiglia/Shutterstock.com
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The United States may be one of the best countries to visit when you’re looking to experience different kinds of nature-filled and picturesque landscapes. New York has some of the most stunning and diverse topography. Despite being dubbed as “the city that never sleeps,” New York is more than just a beautiful city – it is a magnificent display of nature. The enormous, glittering lakes of the state are its dazzling lights. You’ll discover the best lake to experience in New York, whether you choose to swim, paddleboard, kayak, fish, ice skate, or practice water skiing. The state is home to some of the finest lakes on the East Coast, ranging from massive aquatic beauties spanning two nations to mountain-fringed showstoppers. This article will explore the 15 biggest lakes in New York and other facts.

The 15 Biggest Lakes in New York

15. Black Lake

Black Lake
The best fishing location in the 1,000 islands is the Black Lake.

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The Black Lake is a great place to visit if you’re seeking a lake in New York. It is widely regarded as the best fishing location in the 1,000 Islands. The lake’s surface area is 7,855 acres (31.79 km2), with a total shoreline length of 18 miles (29 kilometers). The lake’s deepest point is at 29 feet. For more than a century, anglers and tourists have flocked to the beaches of Black Lake for the best fishing spots in New York.

14. Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir
Having a depth of 190 feet and a surface area of 8,300 acres, the Ashokan Reservoir is one of the largest lakes in New York.

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The Ashokan Reservoir is a reservoir located in Ulster County, New York, at the eastern end of Catskill Park. With 8,300 acres or 34 km2 surface area, it is one of the largest lakes in the state. With a depth of 190 feet (58 meters) near the dam at the old site of Bishop Falls, Ashokan is also the city’s deepest reservoir. “Ashokan” means “place of fish” and was put to service as early as 1915. 

13. Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles Lake
Skaneateles Lake is the most beautiful of the Finger Lakes.

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One of the most well-known Finger Lakes in New York, Skaneateles Lake has a surface size of 8,800 acres (35.61 km2), making it one of the largest in the state. It is the most beautiful and unspoiled of the Finger Lakes. However, dirty run-off from the nearby underdeveloped agriculture field pollutes the lake, endangering its status as the cleanest water.

12. Canandaigua Lake

Canandaigua Lake
Boasting a total shoreline length of 133 miles, Canandaigua Lake is the fourth-largest Finger Lake in New York.

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Canandaigua Lake is the fourth-largest Finger Lake in the state of New York. It boasts a total shoreline length of 133 miles and a surface area of 10,750 acres (43.5 km2). The lake is also one of the most popular lakeside destinations in New York, hence its fitting name. The name “Canandaigua Lake” comes from the Native American word “kanandarque,” which means “selected site.” The water quality of the lake makes it famous, which serves as the primary drinking water source for neighboring towns.

11. Keuka Lake

Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake has a surface area of 11,730 acres.

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Dubbed as the lady of lakes, Keuka Lake has been able to attract positive attention. This lake’s natural beauty has played a significant role in its overall popularity. One of the biggest New York lakes, Keuka Lake, has 11,730 acres (47.5 km2) of surface area and a shoreline stretching 336 miles (541 kilometers). Because of its shallow depths, it is warmer compared to the deeper Finger Lakes in the summer, making it the ideal swimming and sports destination.

10. Chautauqua Lake

Chautauqua Lake
Rising 1,308 feet above sea level, Chautauqua Lake is one of North America’s highest accessible bodies of water.

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Chautauqua Lake is one of the most well-known navigable bodies of water in North America. The lake has 13,000 acres or 53 km2 of surface area and is one of North America’s highest accessible bodies of water, rising 1,308 feet (399 meters) above sea level. The lake has a shoreline that extends 17 miles or 27 kilometers long and water volume reaching 3.2 cubic miles, with a maximum depth of 78 feet. The creek runs south before flowing into the Mississippi River, connecting the Allegheny River near Warren, Pennsylvania, then the Ohio River in Pittsburgh.

9. Great Sacandaga Lake

Great Sacandaga Lake
Great Sacandaga Lake covers 20,650 acres.

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While formally a reservoir, Great Sacandaga Lake is less well-known than its bigger cousins, and the residents want to keep it that way. The largest artificial reservoir in New York is a serene nirvana, filled with perfectly pristine, clear water and bordered by lofty-reaching woods. The lake covers 20,650 acres (32.27 sq mi) and has a shoreline that stretches for 66 km. This lake has a maximum depth of 70 feet and holds a 22.920 billion cubic feet water volume. 

8. Allegheny Reservoir

Allegheny Reservoir
Covering 21,180 acres, the Allegheny Reservoir is one of the largest lakes in New York.

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The Allegheny Reservoir is a man-made lake that flows through the Southwestern New York region, passing over tree-covered slopes. The lake covers 21,180 acres (85.7 km2) and possesses a shoreline length of 280 miles or 450 kilometers. The water volume of this lake is 82 cubic miles with a maximum depth of 48 feet. The reservoir offers some of the best walleye and muskie fishing in the eastern United States.

7. Lake George

Lake George
Commonly referred to as the “Queen of American Lakes,” Lake George covers 28,160 acres.

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Lake George is referred to as the “Queen of American Lakes” and is currently among the most well-known lakes in the state of New York. The lake covers 28,160 acres, bordered by a shoreline of 109 miles or 176 kilometers. The water volume in the lake reaches 0.597 cubic miles with a maximum depth of 197 feet. As the planet heated around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, glaciers started to melt and rip against rock, leaving behind silt, deposits, and ice fragments. As blocks of ice began to disintegrate, water flowed into the gouges in the earth, forming Lake George.

6. Cayuga Lake

New York’s second-largest Finger Lake is Cayuga Lake.

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Cayuga Lake is New York’s second-largest Finger Lake, encompassing 42,500 acres, or 66.41 square miles of surface area. The lake’s total shoreline length is 95 miles and holds 2.27 cubic miles of water, with a maximum depth of 435 feet. Cayuga Lake, like the Great Lakes, was produced by glaciers. More than 100,000 years ago, gigantic ice sheets carved holes in the ground as they migrated southward. The lake is recognized as the lake that hugs Ithaca’s coastline.

5. Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake has a maximum depth of 618 feet.

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By volume, Seneca Lake ranks as the largest and deepest glacial Finger Lake in New York. The lake covers 42,800 acres (66.87 square miles) and a maximum depth of 618 feet, ranking  as one of the country’s deepest. The lake is teeming with fish, making it a well-known lake. While trout are the prize catch for anglers, yellow perch and smallmouth bass can also be found in the lake’s crystal clear waters. It is the second-longest of the Finger Lakes, measuring 38 miles (61 kilometers) long and having the highest volume, estimated at 3.81 cubic miles or about half of the water in the Finger Lakes combined.

4. Oneida Lake

The largest lake entirely within New York’s borders is Oneida Lake.

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Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State’s borders, having a surface area of 50,894 acres (79.5 sq mi). Oneida Lake is a terrific day trip destination about 30 minutes from Syracuse, one of the top cities in New York. Swimming, fishing, skating, and boating are just a few of the activities available at the lake. In addition, its shallow depth (55 feet) is a hotspot for families coming to the lake during the summer. 

3. Lake Champlain

With a surface area of 313,600 acres, Lake Champlain is the biggest freshwater lake in New York.

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Lake Champlain is the biggest freshwater lake in New York, with a surface area of 313,600 acres (514 square miles) and a total shoreline length of 587 miles. It is nestled blissfully between Vermont’s Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains. This magnificent attraction is not only a picturesque treasure, but it is also teeming with fish. We’re talking about a lake with over 80 species and a depth of up to 400 feet! With over 500 miles of shoreline, this massive lake provides guests with an unending array of things to keep them happy and amused.

2. Lake Ontario

The second-largest lake in New York is Lake Ontario.

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Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes, shared by Ontario in Canada and the state of New York. It has a total of 4.6851 million acres or 7,340 square miles. However, in terms of water volume, it still outnumbers its neighbor, Lake Erie, with 1,640 cubic kilometers compared to 480 for the latter. With a maximum depth of 802 feet or 244 meters, Lake Ontario is one of the continent’s deepest lakes. The Thousand Islands area, an approximately 2,000-island archipelago that stretches along the US-Canada border, has various islands on the lake.

1. Lake Erie

Lake Erie
The biggest lake in New York is Lake Erie.

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Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes, ranging from Ontario, Canada, through Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Michigan. Erie is 9,910 square miles or 6.3615 million acres in surface area. It is one of the deepest lakes in the United States while being the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Lake Erie spans both the United States and Canada, with a maximum depth of 210 feet (64 meters). Its main outflow is Niagara Falls. The falls are fed by the Niagara River, which flows 36 miles (58 kilometers) from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

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