11 Gorgeous Recreational Lakes near Utica, NY

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Utica is an excellent getaway to a variety of fun lakes, most of which have very few recreational restrictions.

You can visit the largest lake in the state – Oneida Lake, check out the unique Green Lakes near Syracuse, or escape the hustle and bustle of modern life at Stoney Pond.

From swimming and fishing to wakeboarding and sailing, there is no shortage of activities here, and many lakes offer campgrounds for memorable family trips.

Check out what Utica has to offer!

Lakes near Utica:

  1. Hinckley Reservoir
  2. Delta Reservoir
  3. Kayuta Lake
  4. Canadarago Lake
  5. Otsego Lake
  6. Piseco Lake
  7. Lake Moraine
  8. Stoney Pond
  9. Mount Hope Reservoir
  10. Green Lakes State Park
  11. Oneida Lake
Lakes near Utica New York Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Hinckley Reservoir

Hinckley Lake New York
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Hinckley Reservoir
  • Distance from Utica: 23 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Hinckley Reservoir covers 2,880 surface acres and serves as a source of drinking water for Utica. Located approximately 20 miles north-northwest of the city, this reservoir sits at the southwest corner of Adirondack Park, where it collects water from Black Creek and West Canada Creek. 

The original purpose for building the dam in the 1910s was to have another water source to control the level of the Erie Canal. Presently, the dam also generates hydroelectric power and has created a popular summertime recreation escape. 

The majority of the terrain around the lake remains forested. The Hinckley Reservoir Day Use Area has facilities for launching boats and other watercraft. A swimming area exists, although it has recently remained closed due to a lack of lifeguards. 

Other amenities include picnic areas, basketball and volleyball courts, and trails for hiking and biking. A campground will be added in the near future, transforming this site from day-use to overnight access.

Kayaks, canoes, and small rowboats are often noticed on the reservoir during busy summer weekends. High winds, along with passing motorboats, sometimes create large waves, something paddlers should consider. 

Common fish include bass, black bullhead, trout, pickerel, and yellow perch. 

2. Delta Reservoir

Lake during beautiful pink sunset
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Delta Reservoir
  • Distance from Utica: 23 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Located 23 miles northwest of Utica and immediately north of Rome, the Delta Reservoir is a destination for great fishing opportunities and a sandy beach. 

A year-round destination, the reservoir is also known as a place with excellent winter ice fishing opportunities. Forests and gently sloping hills offer an escape from the urban environment to those who visit this area. 

Delta Lake State Park offers nature and hiking trails on a peninsula that protrudes into the center of the reservoir. 

Day-use picnic areas and overnight camping facilities are available at this park, along with great locations to cast a line into the reservoir from the shorefront. 

Top of the list in the nearly 2,290-acre lake are bass, walleye, and northern pike. Other fish regularly spotted in the waters of the Delta Reservoir include bullhead, perch, and trout. 

3. Kayuta Lake

  • Website: Kayuta Lake
  • Distance from Utica: 26 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Located 26 miles north of downtown Utica, Kayuta Lake occupies a section of the Black River that was widened after workers built the Kayuta Lake Dam in 1894. 

The stone, masonry, and gravity dam sits at the end of State Dam Road, a narrow street that provides a primitive boat launch alongside the dam. Those who want to row or paddle upriver or in this 467-acre lake use this launch as the primary access point. 

Recreation on and along the lake primarily involves boating and fishing. There are no developed public access parklands, though a few commercial campgrounds operate seasonally in the area. 

The “busy” season here runs from May through September, with services in this region greatly reduced after October. 

Fishing is popular, including ice fishing, for those willing to venture into the area during chilly times of the year. 

Common species found here are brown bullhead, yellow perch, smallmouth and largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and brown and lake trout. 

4. Canadarago Lake

  • Website: Canadarago Lake
  • Distance from Utica: 31 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Approximately 30 miles southeast of Utica, Canadarago Lake is a 1,944-acre body of water that has a long and narrow orientation that is similar to Otsego Lake (below). 

Although neither is part of the legendary Finger Lakes in western New York, they do resemble the finger lakes in their contour. 

Also similar to Lake Otsego, much of the terrain visible from the lake includes postcard-perfect views of gently rolling hills.

Canadarago State Marine Park, located on the central-western side of the lake, has boat slips and offers the best destination for those wanting to launch a vessel onto the lake. 

Similar to Glimmerglass State Park along Otsego Lake, popular summertime bass tournaments take place here.

In addition to these competitions to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass, anglers fish for walleye, panfish, brown bullhead, rock bass, bluegill, common carp, chain pickerel, and yellow perch. 

The lake has a reputation for being one of the cleanest in the state.

5. Otsego Lake

Otsego Lake
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Otsego Lake
  • Distance from Utica: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Located 37 miles away and Bordering Cooperstown on its southern shore, Otsego Lake has a 20.3-mile picturesque shoreline with views of hills in many directions. 

Glimmerglass State Park, eight miles north of the town near the northern edge of the lake, offers 593 acres of fishing, hiking, paddleboarding, swimming, and snowshoeing for guests who visit this destination. Campsites and cabins are available for overnight lodging. 

Cooperstown maintains attractive parks along the waterfront. Midway on the western lakeshore, Three Mile Point has motorboat docks and launches for canoes and kayaks with reasonable parking for non-residents. 

A few blocks from downtown, the 2.6-acre Lakefront Park also includes a public launch space for water vessels and spectacular views of the long and narrow lake. 

Two blocks to the east of Lakefront Park, Council Rock Park marks the point where the 4,046-acre lake becomes the source for the North Branch of the Susquehanna River, the longest river on the US East Coast that directly flows into the Atlantic Ocean. 

From one end of this beautiful lake to the other, fishing is as popular as when a fan’s favorite baseball team hits a game-winning home run, with lake trout, perch, and walleye always on the scorecard.

6. Piseco Lake

Piseco Lake
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Piseco Lake
  • Distance from Utica: 52 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Piseco Lake is an uphill drive 52 miles northeast of Utica. With a net elevation gain of approximately 1,200 feet, farms and small towns transition into scenic overlooks along West Canada Creek and roadside pullouts with trail access in the Southern Adirondacks before reaching the 2,873-acre lake. 

With 21.3 miles of shoreline, Piseco Lake offers boating, fishing, and opportunities to see wildlife. Swimming and kayaking are popular in the still-chilly summertime waters, while ice fishing attracts the most resilient anglers during colder months. 

Little Sand Point Campground is a popular destination with lakefront access that promotes fishing, canoeing, and sailing. Hiking trails and camping sites are also available. 

Fish commonly caught from Piseco include walleye, trout, bass, brown bullhead, perch, landlocked salmon, and white fish.

The all-volunteer Piseco Lake Association strives to enhance the lake’s quality.

7. Lake Moraine

  • Website: Lake Moraine
  • Distance from Utica: 27 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Lake Moraine is an artificial reservoir located 27 miles southwest of Utica. Workers created a dam along Madison Brook in the 1830s to supply water for the Erie Canal. 

Originally known as Madison Reservoir, this 251-acre body of water was renamed in 1905 for the glacial moraines left upon its shores during the last Ice Age. 

This lake has two distinct basins. Its South Basin is approximately twice as large as the North Basin, with a peninsula partially separating them. 

The South Basin is 47 feet deep at its maximum point, nearly four times as deep as the maximum depth of the shallower North End. 

The Lake Moraine Association is a local group that watches over this reservoir and advocates for its maintenance. 

The chain pickerel in Lake Moraine grows up to two feet in length. Other notable fish in this lake include brown bullhead, golden shiner, redbreast and pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill, walleye, tiger musky, rock bass, smallmouth and largemouth bass, white sucker, and creek chubsucker.

8. Stoney Pond

Stoney Pond in New York
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Stoney Pond
  • Distance from Utica: 38 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

A drive 38 miles southwest of Utica affords an opportunity to visit Stoney Pond. Workers created this 44-acre pond during the late 1950s to re-establish a wildlife habitat in an area that is now part of the 1,469-acre Stoney Pond State Forest

Open year-round, this preserved land has a good reputation for wildlife sightings, as well as various flora and tree species.

This state forest has a primitive camping area and a long Nordic ski trail for winter use that becomes a cross-country equestrian trail during the summer. 

Unlike some public parklands that have a variety of amenities and developed recreation courts and fields, those who enjoy returning to Stoney Pond often choose to visit this destination due to its remoteness, tranquility, and natural beauty. 

A hand launch site allows access to the pond for vessels that do not have gas motors. Canoes and kayaks are the best options for those who cast lines in the lake. 

Largemouth bass, bluegill, golden shiner, pumpkinseed sunfish, and black crappie are common catches. 

Due to the area’s higher elevation, Stoney Pond tends to freeze earlier than other lakes in the greater Utica area. 

9. Mount Hope Reservoir

A lake in Adirondacks
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Mount Hope Reservoir
  • Distance from Utica: 24 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Located 24 miles west of downtown, Mount Hope Reservoir originally served as Oneida’s water source in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

It turned into the community’s first “swimming hole” during the 1950s and 1960s. The 65-acre property that includes the lake and adjacent grounds has now transitioned into Mount Hope Park.

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, the park provides opportunities for shoreline fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing. 

Although a community swimming area for more than half a century, the reservoir is closed to swimming and boating. The most commonly caught species here is largemouth bass.

10. Green Lakes State Park

Green Lakes State Park
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Green Lakes
  • Distance from Utica: 45 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Golf

The two glacial lakes at Green Lakes State Park – Green Lake and Round Lake – have a tendency not found in most similar bodies of water. Known as meromictic lakes, the top and lower layers of these lakes do not mix during different seasons the way most lakes do.

The 1,955-acre state park has boat rental facilities and permits fishing in the 34-acre Round Lake and 65-acre Green Lake. Fish and many other marine life do not swim in the lower portions of the lakes. Common fish found in this park include bluegill, trout, rock and largemouth bass. 

Private watercraft – including canoes and kayaks – from outside the park boundaries is prohibited in these lakes due to their unique conditions. 

Popular activities include swimming, disc golf, hiking, and seasonal hunting, along with golf on a Robert Trent Jones course. Camping and lodging facilities are available. 

11. Oneida Lake

Oneida Lake Verona Beach State Park
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Oneida Lake
  • Distance from Utica: 35 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing

A 35-mile drive west offers a chance to visit Oneida Lake, a 50,894-acre lake that is 5.5 miles wide and 21 miles long at its maximum point. 

With over 77 miles of shoreline, this body of water, named in honor of the Oneida Nation, is the largest lake by size entirely within the state of New York.

Widely known as a destination for yellow perch and walleye, the lake also hosts a variety of bass, common carp, black crappie, burbot, sunfish, and tiger musky, among others.

Yellow perch is a popular catch during winter months when ice fishing is permitted. Although lake sturgeon exist in these waters, they are considered a threatened species in the state. 

Verona Beach State Park sits on the eastern shoreline of the lake, offering year-round access to 13 miles of hiking trails and serving as a gathering place for ice fishing. It’s the nearest spot to Utica.

On the lake’s north shore, the 3,966-acre Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area offers a protective habitat for native species. Oneida Shores Park and its campground are on the western side of Lake Oneida. 

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