Cayuga-Seneca Canal Cruising Guide
The Cayuga-Seneca Canal is the shortest canal section in the New York State Canal System. Beginning at its junction with the Erie Canal at Kipp Island Montezuma, NY (1.6 SM east of Erie Canal Lock E25) the Cayuga-Seneca Canal runs south to Cayuga Lake and Ithaca, NY or you can turn west to Seneca Lake and Watkins Glen, NY.
The navigation season for the Cayuga-Seneca Canal is the same as for the rest of the New York State Canal System: early May through November from 0700 to 2200 daily. However, prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day these hours are typically restricted to 0700 to 1700 daily.
From the Cayuga-Seneca/Erie Canal Junction at Kipp Island it is (4.2 SM) to the Cayuga Lake/Seneca Lake Junction.
From the Cayuga/Seneca Lake Junction:
- Continuing south it is an additional 1.6 SM to the entrance to Cayuga Lake, and an additional 36.1 SM down the center of the lake to Ithaca, NY. A total of (41.9 SM) from Kipp Island to Ithaca.
- Turning westbound for Seneca Lake it 13.3 SM to the lake’s entrance via Seneca Falls and Waterloo, NY. On entering Seneca Lake, it is an additional 34.4 SM to Watkins Glen, NY. A total of 51.9 SM from Kipp Island to Watkins Glen.
Aids to Navigation
Red markers are kept to starboard south and west bound from the Erie Canal Junction to Seneca Lake.
NOAA Chart #14786, provides coverage of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal system. The individual charts can be viewed below:
|Kipp Island - Seneca Lake - Watkins Glen||Kipp Island - Cayuga Lake - Ithaca|
You may view each respective chart by clicking on the "Chart #". The chart will open in a new window.
There are 4 locks in the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. All Lock chambers are the same; 328 feet long and 45 feet wide.
|Lock CS1||Locks CS2 & CS3||Lock CS4|
A complete listing of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal Locks with distances, lifts, and estimated transit times can be viewed at the Cayuga-Seneca Canal Locks Page.
Project channel depths for the Cayuga-Seneca Canal are 12 feet in the channel and 12 feet over the lock sills.
At normal pool level, minimum bridge clearance is 16’ 0" at bridge S-3. At maximum pool level, minimum bridge clearance is 15’ 3" at Guard Gate #4.
For a complete listing of Cayuga-Seneca Canal bridges, guard gates, and utility crossings along with their clearances, visit the Cayuga-Seneca-Canal Bridge Clearances Page. These tables are available for download.
All lockmasters maintain a watch on VHF channel 13.
The speed limit for the Cayuga-Seneca Canal except in the vicinity of the locks and unless otherwise posted is as Follows:
- From the Erie Canal/Cayuga-Seneca Canal Junction to Lock #CS-1 - 26 knots (30 mph.)
- Cayuga Lake - No Speed Limit.
- Ithaca Navigation Channel - 4.3 knots (5 mph.)
- Lock #CS-1 to the entrance to Seneca Lake - 8.7 knots (10 mph).
- Seneca Lake - No Speed Limit.
- Watkins Glen to Montour Falls Navigation Channel - 4.3 knots (5 mph.)
As a general guide, the Erie Canal Junction at Kipp Island to Seneca Lake will require about 4 hours @ 10 knots.
Distances between major points along the Cayuga-Seneca Canal can be found on our Cayuga-Seneca Canal - Distances Page. The distances table shown is useful in planning your transit through the canal.