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9 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Buffalo, NY

Buffalo provides easy access to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, but there are plenty of smaller lakes in the area. Visitors who prefer cozy lakes and fishing ponds can enjoy water activities without the drawbacks of large lakes.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Buffalo New York

Lake Erie has shaped the history and development of Buffalo. It remains the number one option for water recreation near the city.

Yet, there are several smaller lakes in the area that offer a more cozy and tranquil experience. Visitors who don’t like to worry about wind gusts and powerful waves will find plenty of options.

Many of these lakes are parts of state parks with campgrounds and hiking trails. Some offer swimming beaches and allow motorboating. 

In winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice skating at some of these lakes.

Learn more about the area and discover what Buffalo has to offer!

Lakes near Buffalo:

  1. Hoyt Lake
  2. Como Lake
  3. Green Lake
  4. Darien Lakes
  5. Silver Lake
  6. Bond Lake
  7. Tillman Road WMA
  8. Lake Erie
  9. Lake Ontario
Lakes near Buffalo New York Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Hoyt Lake

Hoyt Lake Delaware Park New York State
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Hoyt Lake
  • Distance from Buffalo: 3 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Ice Skating

Located three miles north of downtown, Hoyt Lake is a signature waterway within Delaware Park. 

This 350-acre grassland was constructed by Olmsted, Vaux & Co. in the early 1870s, with Meadow Park on the eastern half and the water park on the west. 

Crews impounded a section of Scajaquada Creek to create what was originally known as Gala Water. It was renamed Hoyt Lake in 1980. 

A 1.1-mile trail surrounds the lake and offers access to the meadow areas. The park offers a variety of community activities. 

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy maintains the lake and adjacent urban forest. Rowboats are available for rental, with the lake’s fountain usually operating between Memorial Day and Labor Day. 

Numerous cultural heritage sites sit near the lake. These include the Buffalo History Museum, the Rose and Japanese Gardens, and the site of Shakespeare in Delaware Park. The park also has athletic fields and other outdoor recreation sites.

Those who visit Hoyt Lake may fish. Although swimming is not permitted, fishing has become very popular. Fish commonly found here include channel carp, bass, bluegill, perch, and pumpkinseed.

Guests may also bring their personal kayak or canoe into Delaware Park.

2. Como Lake

  • Website: Como Lake
  • Distance from Buffalo: 12 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating, Sledding

Located in Lancaster, 12 miles east of downtown Buffalo, Como Lake was formed inside a park acquired by Erie County in 1926. 

The village of Lancaster donated the original 80 acres of what has grown into a 534-acre park. 

Named for an Italian resort town, the park’s 4 ½ acre artificial lake crafted along Cayuga Creek became a popular spot for an ice skating rink in the early years. 

A lighthouse and other features were later added, including a toboggan run and zoo that has since been removed. 

Visitors to Como Lake enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. These include hiking, biking, sports games, disc golf, picnicking, sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and enjoying nature. 

In addition to playgrounds and a dog park, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty along the Cayuga Creek Nature Trail and footbridges to two islands by the lake. 

Fishing is permitted within Como Lake. While watching belted kingfishers, American kestrels, and eastern screech owls overhead, anglers can cast a line for bass, common carp, steelhead, and rainbow trout. 

3. Green Lake

One yellow sugar maple tree, acer saccharum, and Autumn colors, New York, blue sky white clouds, sand beach
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Green Lake
  • Distance from Buffalo: 15 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Located 15 miles south-southeast of downtown, Green Lake is an impoundment of the South Branch of Smoke Creek. 

Created after the construction of an earthen dam on the lake’s northwestern side in 1909, this 20-acre reservoir is a popular destination for residents of Orchard Park and their guests. 

Yates Park, on the lake’s north end, has a variety of recreational facilities. The beach and swimming area are open during the summer months. 

Picnic shelters, bocce courts, a basketball court, hiking areas, a baseball diamond, and the town’s recreation building also sit within the park. 

Anglers may fish from the shoreline or bring a non-motorized kayak or canoe to Green Lake. 

Fish commonly found in this body of water include largemouth bass, fathead minnows, grass carp, yellow perch, black crappie, and golden shiners. 

4. Darien Lakes

darien lakes state park in New York State
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Harlow Lake
  • Distance from Buffalo: 25 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating, Snowmobiling

A drive 25 miles east of downtown offers visitors a chance to visit Harlow Lake in Darien Lakes State Park

Not to be confused with Six Flags Darien Lakes, this 1,845-acre state park offers a quiet retreat for those who like modest hills, woodlands, visits to Ellicott Creek, and time at a lake. 

Visitors to this state park enjoy hiking, fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, hunting, disc golfing, and camping. 

Seasonal swimming is usually permitted from June through September, with campsites available from mid-May through early October. 

Although some facilities within the park close during the winter, trails are available for cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowmobiling. An outdoor skating rink is a popular attraction in Genesee County. 

Visitors wishing to fish can try their luck at catching the bass found within Harlow Lake. 

5. Silver Lake

Fog and frost creates a muted color palette at dawn on Silver Lake, Castile, NY, in early fall
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Silver Lake
  • Distance from Buffalo: 53 miles (1hr 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice-Fishing

Silver Lake is located in eastern Wyoming County, a little more than 50 miles east-southeast of downtown Buffalo. 

Originally a glacial lake created during the last Ice Age, the body of water was slightly adjusted when crews constructed an impoundment along the lake’s outlet in the village of Perry in 1982. 

This lake, with an average of 836 surface acres, serves as a local water source and recreation site. 

Along the southern shore, Silver Lake State Park offers a comfortable retreat for picnicking, fishing, and boating along the lake. Ice fishing is permitted when conditions allow. 

A smaller park that visitors can enjoy is Perry Public Beach on Silver Lake’s upper eastern shore. Although swimming is not permitted within the lake, this park provides another vantage point to enjoy bank fishing or other recreational activities. 

During the summer, this park attracts crowds with annual Shakespeare performances in an event known as Shake on the Lake.

A popular fishing destination a few miles west of Letchworth State Park, Silver Lake is home to a variety of fish species. 

These include bass, walleye, northern pike, bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, bullhead, yellow perch, and white sucker. 

6. Bond Lake

  • Website: Bond Lake
  • Distance from Buffalo: 25 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Sledding, Ice Skating

Located approximately 25 miles north of the city, Bond Lake is one of five notable lakes within the boundary of Bond Lake Park. 

Thirty-seven acres in size, Bond Lake originally served as the site of a limestone quarry in the late 1800s. 

The 531-acre park in which the lake sits is part of the Niagara Escarpment and includes opportunities for hiking, fishing, biking, picnicking, canoeing, sledding, and cross-country skiing. 

Visitors to Bond Lake Park have access to a disc golf course and approximately 13 miles of trails perfect for birdwatching. 

An 18-hole disc golf course offers summertime recreation opportunities, while winter visitors will enjoy an ice skating rink and other cold-weather recreation options. 

The Warming House located in this park is a popular rental venue for weddings.

Those fishing along Bond Lake will find an abundance of largemouth bass. Other fish commonly found here include black bullhead, common carp, smallmouth bass, and occasional bluegill. 

7. Tillman Road WMA

Calm pond or lake, surrounded by low, forested, hills, marsh grasses and reeds and with a blue sky and dramatic clouds, vertical, majestic nature, New York State, USA
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Tillman Road (WMA)
  • Distance from Buffalo: 17 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Tillman Road Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is 17 miles northeast of the heart of Buffalo. 

Once used for farming and gravel mining, the 239 acres within this preserve include numerous wetland areas and two ponds that once served as quarries. 

Trails allow access to many areas of this WMA, great for wildlife viewing and birdwatching near cattail marsh during migratory seasons. 

Species found in this conservation tract include Canada geese, herons, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed deer, beavers, and muskrats.

Since the state acquired this site in 1977, Tillman Road WMA has become a popular site for anglers. Fishing is available in the ponds on site. 

While year-round access is possible, swimming and the use of motorized vehicles are prohibited. 

8. Lake Erie

Lake Erie and Buffalo, viewed from Buffalo City Hall, New York, USA.
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Erie
  • Distance from Buffalo: 0 miles (0 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice-Fishing, Ice Boating

Lake Erie reaches its westernmost boundary in the Buffalo area before channeling into the Niagara River. 

Numerous parks and recreation areas along the city’s waterfront offer opportunities to enjoy lakefront activities. 

Unity Island Park and Broderick Park offer access to Unity Island. Within view of the Peace Bridge, this island once served as a point where fugitive slaves passed into Canada on the Underground Railroad at the Niagara River.

Lasalle Park sits at the junction of the Niagara River and Lake Erie, a place for everything from rollerblading to jogging. 

The Buffalo Waterfront includes the Outer Harbor with its trails and bike park, and Canalside, the site where the Erie Canal ended in 1825, a location for festivals and concerts. 

Buffalo Harbor State Park has a marina with 1,100 slips and boat launches. Tifft Nature Preserve covers 264 waterfront acres once considered the site of a landfill. 

Lake Erie is a popular fishing destination in any season. It holds multiple state records, including the one for 3 lbs. 8 oz. yellow perch that was caught in Erie County’s section of Lake Erie in 1982. 

9. Lake Ontario

Aerial view of Old Fort Niagara Youngstown, NY USA
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Ontario
  • Distance from Buffalo: 32 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice-Fishing, Ice Boating

Just like Lake Erie, Lake Ontario offers dozens of access points and plenty of activities in any season.

Numerous water parklands along the Niagara River welcome visitors. These include Niagara Falls State ParkWhirlpool State ParkDevil’s Hole State ParkJoseph Davis State Park, and Old Fort Niagara

Numerous other water recreation opportunities, such as the seasonal Maid of the Mist boat tours, also exist. 

Nearby sites along Lake Ontario include Four Mile Creek State Park (32 miles north), Wilson-Tuscarora State Park (33 miles north), Golden Hill State Park (50 miles northeast), and Lakeside State Park (approximately 60 miles northeast). 

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