ITHACA, N.Y. — A multi-county project to create a water trail on Cayuga Lake is one step closer to fruition.

The Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail, first drafted in 2013, is a project to establish launch sites at a number of spots around Cayuga Lake through Tompkins, Seneca and Cayuga counties. At least six of the sites will be in Tompkins County. The water trail is meant to make the lake more accessible for people wanting to explore the lake on non-motorized watercraft.

On Dec. 6, Tompkins County legislators voted to accept a grant of $101,245 from the New York State Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for the trail.

The trail is intended for “residents and visitors alike” Tom Knipe, of the Tompkins County Planning Department, said. The trail is meant for anyone who wants to have a paddling experience on Cayuga Lake, he said, whether that is kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or canoeing.

Photo from the Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail Plan.
Photo from the Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail Plan.

“The project is really designed to help promote the lake and communities around the lake for destination for paddling experiences,” Knipe said.

In Ithaca, floating docks will be installed at Cass Park and Stewart Park.

The total project is estimated to cost $202,490, with funding coming from the LWRP grant accepted Tuesday as well as $43,480 from 2014 and 2016 county tourism capital grants, $20,000 from the City of Ithaca and $57,765 from other local governments involved in the project.

As part of the project, there will be water access improvements, signage telling the history of communities around the lake and information about paddling safety. Marketing and itineraries, with a website and other materials will pull everything together so people can plan short trips or longer multi-day trips.

There are 14 spots planned currently, but that number may grow, Knipe said, as the planning team is also trying to work with private property owners to create access points as places like wineries and the Ithaca Farmers’ Market.

Design work for the trail will begin in early 2017, Knipe said. The goal is to have the trail up and running by the beginning of the season in 2018.

Learn more about the Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail at

Featured image by joenevill/Flickr Creative Commons.

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.