Verdant rolling hills, shimmering waters, and a lively culture make New York’s Southern Finger Lakes the perfect adventure destination. Soak up the sun while lounging on the shores of Keuka Lake, spend an afternoon sampling craft beverages, or get out in nature—you really can’t go wrong when it comes to how you spend your time here.
Known for its sprawling vineyards and wishbone-shaped lake, the Corning and Finger Lakes area is the perfect summertime playground for water sports, fishing, biking, hiking, and so much more. Start exploring with this list of the most iconic outdoor adventures and things to do in the region. (Don’t be surprised if you find a new summer tradition!)
1. Get on the Water at Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake is perfect for stand-up paddleboarding. Photo courtesy of Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Almost endless opportunities abound on the clear, cool waters of Keuka Lake. Rent a motorboat and cruise the 22 miles of undulating shoreline or get the family out on water skis, boogie boards, or in a tube. For a more hands-on experience, kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards are all widely available for rent. While not exactly a watersport, another not-to-be-missed Keuka Lake experience is a seaplane ride that offers an overhead look at the famous Y-shaped lake as well as views of the vineyards stretching into the horizon.
2. Cast a Line in the Chemung, Cohocton, or Tioga
The fish are jumping and the waters are flowing year round for both experienced and novice anglers alike on the Chemung, Cohocton, and Tioga rivers. More than 30,000 stock trout are released into area waters, helping create some of the best fishing in the northeast. The Chemung and Tioga Rivers are known for their muskie fishing, but the jewel of Steuben County fishing is the Cohocton River, which is home to both wild and stocked trout. A nice stretch of the waterway where you can drop a line is off State Route 415 and Wentworth Road, where there is a special angler footpath for river access.
3. Cycle Through the Countryside
The Southern Finger Lakes region features excellent cycling, with well-maintained roads and scenic views. Bonnie Gustin
Breathe in the crisp air as you explore the lush, vine-covered hills while biking through the Southern Finger Lakes region. Of course, a couple of winery stops and a picnic along the way is always a popular option, but for a real heart-pumping adventure, try the Hammondsport Circle Tour. This 36-mile route takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Steuben County.
If riding for a cause is appealing, sign up for the Tour de Keuka, an annual charity bike ride around the lake region in July that benefits the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. There are several scenic routes and distances to choose from including 16-, 45-, 60-, or 100-mile rides.
4. Chase Waterfalls at Stony Brook State Park
Take a hike through Stony Brook State Park for some of the prettiest views in the region. Photo courtesy of Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Stony Brook State Park in Dansville is a go-to destination for waterfall lovers, and three moderately challenging trails are the best way to explore the park. The Gorge Trail is the easiest, following Stony Brook as it winds past picturesque rock formations and three waterfalls, ending at a stream-fed pool at the North Entrance. Wear brightly-colored clothes during your visit to attract the grey petaltail dragonfly, often seen landing on arms and hats.
5. Tour the Craft Beverage Scene
It’s well-known that the Finger Lakes region produces great wine, period. But the area also has a thriving—and growing—craft brewing and distillery scene. With almost 30 brewers to choose from, you’re sure to find a beer, cider, vodka, gin, or whiskey to suit even the most discerning palate.
Four Fights Distilling in Corning is Steuben County's oldest distillery. This "one-man show" produces small-batch vodka, gin, bourbon, and a variety of specialty products, including the intriguingly named Imperial Apple Pie. Find out first-hand just how many options you have on the self-guided Craft Your Adventure* *tour and sip into some of the most innovative craft brews and spirits on the East Coast.
6. Explore the Finger Lakes Trail System
A true labor of love, the Finger Lakes Trail system was born in the 1960s and has grown to almost 580 miles of trails winding their way across the Finger Lakes Region. (When you consider neighboring trails off the FLT, the total system reaches close to 950 miles.) About 70 miles of the trail twists across Steuben County, with the expanding network growing thanks to a dedicated band of volunteer helping to create and maintain trails. You’ll find multiple access points for getting onto the trail, including many hikes starting at most of the area state parks.
The trail system is perfect for day hikes or weekend-long adventures, and highlights include crashing waterfalls, treks through vineyards, a wide range of diverse habitat and ecosystems. The well-maintained and marked trails make access easy—the biggest decision will be where to start! One of the more unique places is the Huckleberry Bog Nature Trail on the Bristol Hills Branch Loop near Hammondsport, which is great for families and anyone interested in the history of the area.
For even more ideas of things to do on your next trip to the Corning and Finger Lakes region, download our Experience Guide and start planning!
Written by Lisa Collard for RootsRated Media in partnership with Steuben County.