Canoes and Kayaks on Canadice

Canadice Lake may be the smallest of the eleven Finger Lakes, but it’s one thats huge presence suggests its undisturbed, primitive and pristine qualities. The old growth forest that drapes the lake’s western slope is one of the largest in the region, providing a dramatic backdrop that runs the length of the lake. The undeveloped shoreline is similar to what would have been seen by the Native Americans as they paddled their bark canoes there hundreds of years ago.

But in today’s world, what does this lake’s primitive character afford to those who visit its shores? A serene and quiet experience is the undertow that pulls one deeper into this lake’s charm, yet this very same charm also provokes a playful, freewheeling spirit. For those who wish to romp about on the lake, muscle power is often preferred to gas-powered vessels.

Although it’s fitting that the preferred method of boat power matches the lake’s primitive character, it’s actually regulated by the City of Rochester Water Department. Along with Hemlock Lake, Canadice Lake is Rochester’s source for drinking water; therefore, the city regulates the recreational activities on and around the lakes to ensure they remain clean. Boating and fishing are allowed by permit only, and boats may not be larger than 16 feet in length with motors not exceeding 10 horsepower. So a quiet, intimate experience is guaranteed, and the canoes and kayaks usually far outnumber the powered boats on the lake. The permit is free of charge, can be picked up at a self-serve kiosk at the north end of Hemlock Lake near the Rochester Water Department’s facilities, and is valid for the entire season.

Canadice Lake is three miles long and about one-third of a mile wide. The lake’s small size allows it to cozy up against the eastern side of Bald Hill for its entire length. Besides providing picturesque scenery, this over-steepened slope helps block the prevailing westerly winds, usually making for calm lake conditions. Most points on Canadice Lake are fairly accessible by car, as Canadice Lake Road runs along the eastern shore. A gravel ramp near the middle of the east side of the lake serves as the only boat trailer access to the lake. Canoes and kayaks, however, can be put in just about anywhere along Canadice Lake Road. A footpath along the western shore allows for hiking.
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This photographic essay provides a peek into an increasingly popular recreational activity on Canadice Lake: canoeing and kayaking. With these images I have attempted to capture and portray the context in which these activities occur: the seasons of the year, the moods of the lake, the times of the day, and of course the primitive but picturesque surroundings that envelop and make Canadice Lake what it is.


by Michael Venturino