Paddle Tour of The Finger Lakes (PTFL)

The Finger Lakes

The 11 lakes in the Challenge from West to East
You do not have to paddle the entire lake at one time but can do sections of each lake until you have completed paddling around the lake. 

To obtain a patch, you must send a completed log of your paddles to:

PTFL Challenge
Genesee Valley Chapter of ADK
P.O. Box 22822
Rochester, NY 14692-2822

For additional information please contact

PTFL Challenge

PaddleTour of the Finger Lakes Challenge (PTFL)

by Charlie Helman, February 2008

This group, which was started by Jennifer Pivovar is paddling around the perimeter of each of the eleven lakes, which when completed amounts to almost 400 miles of paddling.

The paddling can be rather difficult at times since some of these lakes are large bodies of water and have inherent weather conditions that change at a moments notice. These paddles are typically designed for experienced kayakers due to the varying distances that have to be completed that could mean paddling for the better part of a day at a average speed of approximately 4 MPH. 

Below is a write-up that was written by one of the paddlers working towards completing this Quest challenge, Tony Imperato.

Western NY does lend itself to the PTFL quest challenge. The PTFL presents a significant challenge because of the variety of the conditions one can expect to encounter while attempting this endeavor. The size of the individual lakes, coupled with the variable weather conditions create an unlimited spectrum of challenges while circumnavigating all eleven lakes. From sheltered waters to open water conditions with significant headwinds or following seas and anything in between, hot sunny days and/or heavy rain ( we do not paddle in thunderstorms) and anything in between gives every paddle the potential for a different experience. The shore lines vary, as does the architecture or the dwellings surrounding their shores, from huge estate style homes to small cottages to some lakes with nothing (Hemlock/Canadice). The lakes have variable topography swamp and low lands, high banks, occasional ravines and waterfalls and rolling hillsides like beautiful Bristol Hills.

Because of the required open water experience these paddles are not recommended for anyone but experienced kayakers. The day trips are usually between 8 and 17 miles but a couple of legs extend past 20 miles. Because of the distances the pace is such that typical trips last anywhere from three to five hours plus appropiate breaks for lunch and fluid replacement. At the end of the trip it is not uncommon to stop for a well deserved ice cream! The usual recommended safety equipment is PFDs, skirts, water, extra paddles, sunscreen, first aid kit, dry clothes is a dry bag. The group size is usually limited to no more than 12 to 13 paddlers. Trips can be round trips or may require car pooling/shuttling of vehicles. The total quest distance is approximately 360 miles.

Cayuga Lake and the PTFL Finale - Summer 2005

Cayuga Lake and the PTFL Finale - Summer 2005

by jennifer pivovar

cayuga is all that stood between us and the first complete ptfl. (paddle tour of the finger lakes) we already had a head start - having completed the leg from dean's cove to cayuga lake state park last year. but cayuga is long. cayuga gets shallow quickly in many areas. cayuga has, well, attitude.

our first attempt at a 17 mile leg on cayuga's west side had some of us questioning our sanity. the forecast was good. winds calm to light nw. we set out from taughannock falls heading north. after 7 miles into an increasing headwind, most of us could barely maintain 2 mph. and the 'calm' winds continued to build despite the helpful marine forecast's assertations to the contrary. gerry had a dinner engagement over an hour away, and the 9 miles to the take-out looked like a really long ride. we turned tail and tried to stay upright with the gale building behind us. sigh.

i guess we paid our dues, though. the rest of the 71 miles of cayuga shoreline were a real joy to paddle. we paddled around the north end on a sunny july 30. i took my new outer island out for the first time on a beautiful labor day paddle. we completed the aborted segment on a gray but lovely sept 17 and rode the last 17.5 miles of the south end to glory on sept 24!

gerry was with me to celebrate as the two paddlers who have completed all of the 387 miles of finger lakes shoreline. there are others missing just a few segments and a few still planning with a very long list.

with eleven lakes ranging from small and placid through mid-sized and busy all the way to large and challenging, there is certainly something for everyone here. it's almost sad that it's over, but now maybe i can go on someone else's trips for a change!

cayuga lake and the ptfl finale gallery (opens in new window)

Report on the 2002 Season

Report on the 2002 Season

by jennifer pivovar

the first season of the ptfl certainly met our expectations! it was fun, challenging, brought out a wider paddling audience, and enticed a few new members to the adk. in 2002 we circumnavigated the 6 western-most lakes: canadice, hemlock, conesius, honeoye, canandaigua, and keuka. we accomplished this in a total of 11 segments ranging from an easy 6.4 miles to a challenging 20.3 miles. We were quite fortunate with conditions -- no truly awful weather or circumstances on our trips from May through October!

I led trips for 9 different segments. On these trips, a total of 30 paddlers participated -- some once, some many times! Two paddlers completed each of the 11 segments this year -- Frank Cabron and me (Jennifer Pivovar). Honorable mention goes to Mike Vance, who completed 10 of 11 segments, and Ken Beghini, who completed 9 of the 11 segments.

This season we will take on the easternmost five lakes -- Seneca, Cayuga, Skaneateles, Owasco and Otisco. I expect to see our most challenging conditions on the larger lakes. I spend a lot of time on Seneca and can attest to the fact that there is rarely a day without waves and whitecaps at some point. Also, the paddles on these lakes will be lengthy so the distance and potential conditions will combine for some interesting paddling!

All PTFL participants must sign up with the trip leader at least two days prior to the trip. This is to help facilitate the shuttle scheduling and to screen participants 'cause ALL the PTFLs this year will be at least 12 miles and most will be on big water, so we need to screen the participants.

If you're ready for a new paddling challenge in 2003, consider taking on the PTFL!