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Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State (79.8 square miles (207 km2)). The lake is located northeast of Syracuse and near the Great Lakes. It serves as one of the links in the Erie Canal. It empties into the Oneida River which flows into the Oswego River which in turn flows into Lake Ontario. While not included as one of the Finger Lakes, it is sometimes referred to as their "thumb".
The lake is about 21 miles (33 km) long and about 5 miles (8.7 km) wide with an average depth of 22 feet (6.4 m). The shoreline is about 55 miles (89 km). Portions of six counties and sixty-nine communities are in the watershed. Oneida Creek, which flows past the cities of Oneida and Sherrill, empties into the southeast part of the lake at South Bay.
Because it is shallow, it is warmer than the deeper Finger Lakes in summer, and freezes solidly in winter, making it relatively safe and popular for ice fishing and snowmobiling.