Bicycle touring Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes Cycling

Finger Lakes cycling is one of my favorite regions suitable for both a weekend gataway or week long bicycle tour. The Finger Lakes region is a collection of lakes located in upper New York State known for the many wineries which dot the landscape and is an excellent area for bicycle touring.

While there are many Finger Lakes these are the five areas that most people bicycle touring visit. Each of these Finger Lakes has a personality of their own and it is best to base yourself at one for a few days of daily bike touring before moving to the next.

Finger Lakes Cycling Tips

  • The Backroad Bicycling in the Finger Lakes Region is an excellent guide with 30 routes as most are not signed and you do require maps. Your Finger Lakes Cycling will be along quiet country roads. This is the best selling guide on this website for any destination.
  • The best time to visit for your Finger Lakes cycling is late September because it is the most scenic with the fall colors in their full glory
  • Spring time in May prior to Memorial Day usually offers great weather and great prices for accommodation
  • Accommodation options include camping, bed and breakfasts, vacation rental homes, cabins in some state parks and hotels. If you have a group consider staying at Keuka College from mid June to Mid August.
  • Wonderful sightseeing opportunities include the trail up the gorge at Watkins Glen, Corning Glass factory tour, numerous waterfalls along the routes and even more numerous wineries
  • There are connections with either the nearby Seaway Trail along Lake Ontario or the Eire Canal Trails (Buffalo to Albany) across the top of the region if you wish a longer holiday

Finger Lakes Cycling Regions

Five of the Finger Lakes regions for cycling, there are others just as interesting.

Canandaigua Lake

This is the  most northern of the Finger Lakes and is located near Rochester. Bicycle routes in this area offer fairly flat to rolling terrain with long, gradual hills. If this is your first time to the area this is a good place to start but most cyclists move on to the other four Finger Lakes which are far more scenic. There are easy connections to the Erie Canal Trail which is along the top of this region.

Keuka Lake

Base yourself in or near Hammondsport, a delightful quaint town with shops, ice cream stores, restaurants, bed and breakfast surrounding a small park with a band shell located in the town center. It’s then a quick cycle along Highway 54A and Keuka Lake, one of the most picturesque. This gently hilly road has been described by many as one of the most scenic in all of the United States. Don’t worry about traffic, its all on the other side of the lake heading to the town of Penn Yann.

At Branchport head up Italy Hill to the top turning left and continue along a ridge which parallels the lake for some great views. There are many excellent wineries to distract you along the way such as Bully Hill which is why many refer to this as the Keuka Wine Trail.

There are plenty of other routes in the Keuka Lake area making this Finger Lake a good base for 3 – 7 days. The outlet trail can take you from Penn Yann to Seneca Lake.

Seneca Lake

Finger Lakes Cycling

Watkins Glen

Finger Lakes cycling in this area is along the longest lake in the region. You can bicycle tour from Hammondsport to Watkins Glen although its has some major hills. The terrain around the Geneva at the north end of the lake is gently rolling.

All routes departing Watkins Glen involve a long climb with the east shore having an easier grade.  On the eastern shores of Seneca Lake you climb gradually past waterfalls and plenty of wineries and have a great descent on the return. If you go south through the valley you can visit Montour Falls and continue to Corning and visit the famous glass museum. The Glen itself is part of a state park with excellent camping and also offers a terrific 2 mile walk up the Glen carved ages ago into solid rock.

Cayuga Lake

Ithaca is home to famous Cornell University and the starting point of some wonderful bicycle touring between the neighboring lakes. The book 20 Bicycle Tours in the Finger Lakes offers a 115 mile, three day route in this area but you can do shorter routes as well.

From Ithaca, you can also try the more challenging Two Gorges Tour, which runs 28 miles between  Taughannock Falls State Park and Robert H. Treman State Park.

Owasco Lake

A great one day bicycle tour around this lake stopping in Auburn with its many historic homes on the north end and the state park on the south end. In between you will find quiet roads and some gradual hills.


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