Five Amazing Lakes
By Victoria Pane
A Western New York hotspot for outdoor recreation, the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region is a great place for all outdoor enthusiasts. Known best for our five amazing lakes, there isn’t a single part of the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region that is more than 20 minutes from open water. A great vacation destination, Lake Erie is home to numerous water-based activities and attractions. Windswept shores, beaches, and dramatic cliffs define Chautauqua County’s northern Lake Erie border.
Lake Erie and the adjacent waterways, known as Steelhead Alley, harbor abundant walleye, bass, and trout fisheries, and are home to popular migration flyways. Go fishing on inland lakes including Chautauqua, Findley, Cassadaga and Bear Lakes.
Chautauqua Lake, ranked #23 Best Bass Lake in the Northeast by Bassmaster in 2018, offers exceptional fishing for walleye, bass, muskellunge and several species of panfish. Besides fishing, Chautauqua Lake has remained a destination for lake recreation enthusiasts who also have enjoyed sailing, boating, kayaking, and other water fun for generations. Cruise the lake’s 17 miles to discover numerous public docking points plus the beautiful Long Point State Park.
Findley Lake’s abundant beds of aquatic vegetation provide angling for a variety of sportfish and panfish, while the three interconnected lakes of Cassadaga provide angling for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge and panfish. The smallest of the County’s inland lakes, known as a kettle lake, Bear Lake’s shoreline is predominantly wetland, providing excellent habitat for bass and other predator and prey fish.
In addition to all lake life has to offer, the Chautauqua-Lake Erie region is also known for its undisturbed landscapes along a multi-use trail system that allows for year-round nature adventures including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and migratory bird watching.
Hike from the Pennsylvania border to Chautauqua Gorge State Forest on the Westside Overland Trail system or explore hardwood forests along the Eastside Overland Trail. Magnificent views common atop Chautauqua County’s hills are not to be missed, especially the panoramic view of Lake Erie from the Luensman Overview Park.
Erlandson Overview Parks marks the highest accessible elevation point in the county; on clears days it is possible to spot Chautauqua Lake from above.
Journey along the Rails to Trails, plan a visit to the Audubon Community Nature Center, stop by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History to view wildlife art and photography, or stand in awe of giant 60-foot-tall rock formations at Panama Rocks Scenic Park.
After exploring, unwind with some wine from Lake Erie Wine Country or tour the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, the hometown of Lucille Ball.
Contact the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau for more information about what the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region has to offer and start planning your trip today!
Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region