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Discover Cayuga Lake in the Heart of the Finger Lakes

posted by Astrid Jirka at 2023-07-22 20:56:00


Imagine getting on a motor boat docked at New York State’s largest inland marina for a cruise that takes you to see the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Along the way, you take in the views of the hills and the cliffs that surround the lake, as well as the interesting homes that have been built over the last 200 years, while the crew on board discuss the natural and human history of the area.

The view of the waterfall involves a mile-long hike through an incredible 10,000 year old gorge with shale and limestone bedrock and walls that are unique to the Finger Lakes area. After this guided hike, you get back on the boat for a cruise back, enjoying your lunch on a fine summer day while taking in more views. The lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes and one of the deepest - Cayuga Lake - and the waterfall is Taughannock Falls, located at the famous Taughannock Falls State Park, a must-see if you’ve traveling to the area.


The Finger Lakes region of Central, NY has an enormous amount to offer. From larger cities such as Rochetster to dozens of quaint towns there are many interesting museums and countless excellent restaurants. But its real charm lies in the bucolic landscape of hills and lakes that support a largely rural lifestyle and green forests and fields as far as the eye can see.

 
11 lakes are known as the official Finger Lakes so it can be hard to choose which one to visit. They vary in character quite a bit, with two lakes - Seneca and Cayuga - dominating the landscape in terms of their size and the correlated wine industry that exists due to the unique micro-climate that these large bodies of water influence. Both are bordered by famous Wine Trails that are definitely worth experiencing for people with any interest in wine. And both are surrounded by 80+ miles of shoreline, much of it in private hands today. Accessing these lakes can thus be a bit of a challenge for visitors, and residents of local towns as well.


As the earth’s population continues to grow, the earth’s climate is experiencing some dire changes. Natural resources are being stressed and spending time in nature is becoming more difficult for many people, at the same time that it’s becoming increasingly important. To address this situation, an organization in Ithaca, NY (at the southern end of Cayuga Lake), called Discover Cayuga Lake (DCL) offers boat tours and educational programs to give everyone a chance to spend time getting to know this particular precious natural area.

 
The 4-hour long Lake & Land Tour mentioned above is a one-of-a-kind experience in the Finger Lakes. It’s a chance to be on the water, learn a bit about the area, and get a little exercise to boot. The 2 mile-long guided hike is flat and mostly shaded and takes a little over an hour to do. There is also the option to rent a kayak or paddle-board instead (and get a lesson if you need one), or to just hang out at the beautiful park. Most uniquely, while on board you get to experience learning in action as DCL’s Youth Crew participate in the delivery of the tour. The Youth Crew are local teenagers who are learning important job skills as they also learn about lake ecology and environmental education. Their participation on the tour gives them a chance to share information as they practice their new skills with you!
 

Lunch can also be ordered on the boat or guests can bring their own. Discover Cayuga Lake is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and connecting people with the watersheds upon which we all depend, with a focus on Cayuga Lake. Tourism revenue is a critical source of funding to help them deliver their educational programs, as well as offer weekly, affordable cruises to local community members. Each year nearly 2,500 students participate in their educational programs: Trout in the Classroom, a school-year based program focused on the trout life cycle in the watershed, and the Floating Classroom, focused on learning about lake ecology using scientific equipment and inquiry.


Each year 1,000s of people enjoy their unique cruise offerings which help support these programs. In addition to the Lake & Land Tour, DCL offers many cruises for people of all ages. For example, you’re visiting the area, the Ithaca Farmers Market is another must on your to-do list. In operation for 50 years, it’s a stunning location along the Cayuga Inlet where you can enjoy delicious food and support local farmers and artisans. On weekends, DCL provides one-hour long Farmers Market Cruises, offering a narrated history of the inlet and lake. Water, food, farming, health and happiness - it’s all connected!

 
Another public cruise DCL offers is an Osprey Eco-Cruise. Guests learn about the ecology and natural history of the lake through the lens of the local osprey.


Ospreys first came to Cayuga Lake in the 1990s and have grown to a population of over 150 nesting pairs. DCL has come to honor these beautiful birds as important educators. Due to their historical decline in the mid-1900s as a result of the widespread use of the pesticide DDT, and then their re-emergence as a result of dedicated efforts by environmentalists to protect wildlife, the story of the osprey is the story of the negative, and positive, impacts that humans can have on nature. Not only will you get to see osprey, but several other bird species such as bald eagles, great blue herons, cormorants and more have been spotted on these cruises. Binoculars are offered to ensure everyone can get a good look at these beloved “fish hawks.”
 

Do you love to stargaze? Then you’ll love DCL’s Night Sky Eco-Cruise offered every Friday evening from June-September. This cruise provides a relaxing summer night out on the lake where you’ll get to see constellations, planets, shooting stars and maybe more. Narrators are onboard to point out several celestial landmarks and talk about old time navigation. This cruise provides insight on astrological lore and scientific facts about our solar system. You might even get to see your zodiac sign in the stars!


Discover Cayuga Lake also offers near-daily Sunset Cruises, Fall Foliage Eco-Cruises and the boat is available for private charters. The MV Teal is a comfortable 70 passenger cruiser. Guests are allowed to bring their own food and beverages on board. The boat is accessible via wheelchair from the home dock at the Allan H. Treman Marina in Ithaca, NY.


Email booking@discovercayugalake.org  or visit their website at https://discovercayugalake.org/  for more information so they can help YOU Discover Cayuga Lake and you can help THEM protect the beautiful Finger Lakes!


Images: 
Images are the property of Discover Cayuga Lake


 
 
posted at: 2023-07-22 20:56:00, last updated: 2023-07-23 07:06:58

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