Mount Hope Cemetery Rochester NY Autumn Fall Foliage

Autumn in Rochester

From pretty to paranormal, autumn in Rochester has no shortage of unique seasonal activities! Scenic train rides, leaf-peeping in our arboretums, fall bird migrations and ghost walks happen only in autumn so take advantage of them while you can!

Table of Contents

  1. The Best Fall Foliage
  2. Autumn Migration
  3. Scenic Drives
  4. Take a Hike
  5. Heritage Train Rides
  6. Follow the River
  7. Get Above the Canopy
  8. Take a Ghost Tour
  9. Haunted Hayrides
  10. Fun on the Farm
Durand Eastman Park Log Cabin Road November
Autumn in Durand Eastman

1. Observe changing foliage during Autumn in Rochester

Pick a place with tree-diversity—it may even be your own neighborhood. Observe the autumn changes once a week, maybe on your way home from work or on Sunday mornings.

I have a few favorite places I like to frequent in the fall because of their dramatic displays:

Mount Hope Cemetery

It may seem odd to think of a cemetery as a family-friendly destination, but Mount Hope Cemetery is as park-like as Highland Park next door.

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Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon Ponds Park is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms.

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Highland Park in Rochester

Highland Park was designed to be enjoyed year-round. Every pathway, every tree, every vista & every relationship between the land & water is intentional.

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Webster Arboretum at Kent Park

Follow the pathways that meander around Webster Arboretum–40 acres of open spaces, flower & herb gardens, water elements, and a wide variety of trees.

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Durand Eastman Park

Durand Eastman Park encompasses 977 acres of land including Durand Lake, Eastman Lake, and a swimming beach on Lake Ontario.

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Montezuma NWR

2. Witness the autumn migration

Massive migrations of waterfowl, wading birds and raptors come back through New York on their way south toward open waters.

These areas around Rochester are dedicated to giving them safe harbor to eat and to rest. Bring your binoculars!

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is the largest in New York State at 10,828 acres, not even including the surrounding Oak Orchard and Tonawanda WMAs.

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Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is a 7,000-acre preserve located on the north end of Cayuga Lake, under one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway.

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Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area

The Braddock Bay complex includes the bay and the surrounding wetlands. We break it down so you can start exploring!

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Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister
Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister

3. Take a drive

You don’t have to be in the Catskills or Adirondacks to find an inspiring view. Pick any slow-road leading out of Rochester. There are lots of scenic overlooks to enjoy along the way.

My personal favorite! County Road 21, 12, 33, 34, or 36 to Naples. Stop at the “jump off” in Ontario County Park, Harriet Hollister or Bristol Mountain along the way.

Lake Ontario Seaway Trail east to Huron, or west to Olcott

Route 96 to Seneca Falls and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Route 15-15A loop around Hemlock Lake

Drive through Letchworth, Mt. Morris to the Glen Iris Inn

Route 20 east to Skaneateles or Lafayette or Cazenovia

Route 98 to Salamanca and Little Rock City

Route 20A west to East Aurora

Route 19 to Rushford Lake

Seriously, I could keep going! If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments. And check out our Google Map with load of overlooks and scenic spots.

3-Day Getaway Along Routes 5 and 20

Routes 5 and 20 is a beautiful 67-mile stretch of highway where NY-5 and US-20 converge, following an ancient foot trail of New York’s first people.

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The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail

The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail runs along the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, from Fort Niagara in Youngstown to Fort Ontario in Oswego.

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Holley Falls trail
Holley Canal Falls

4. Take a hike

A walk anywhere in a park or forest, along a lake shore or your own neighborhood is satiating enough! I love a combination of tree-diversity, water elements, moments of canopy and vista, and a bench to take it all in. Try these!

Holley Canal Falls

Holley Canal Falls is located in the heart of the Village of Holley. The water that flows into the glen is overflow from the Erie Canal.

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22 Fabulous Fall Hikes in Monroe County

Our favorite fall hikes offer a variety of elements and views. The presence of water, trees, and solitude help rank these high on our list!

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Gorge Trails Near Rochester

Gorge trails call out to us from their deep, dark, and cool caverns. If you haven’t already, check these spectacular trails off your list!

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71 Hiking Trails Around Rochester

A few rustic trails around Rochester that will inspire you to take a hike. A diverse collection of rail, waterside, and inland trails.

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21 Monroe County Parks

Monroe County parks are free, so take advantage of 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical and geological experiences!

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49 New York State Parks Within a 2-hour Drive of Rochester

Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a two hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them each unique!

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Arcade and Attica Railroad
Arcade and Attica Railroad

5. Ride the rails on a heritage train

In addition to regular hours of operation, these railroads offer an season-specific schedule.

Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum Fall Foliage and Pumpkin Patch Train Rides

New York Museum of Transportation Fall Foliage by Trolley and the Halloween Trolley Express

Medina Railroad Museum Fall Foliage Train Rides

Arcade & Attica Railroad Fall Foliage Train Rides

Adirondack Scenic Railroad – an ambitious day trip, but enjoyable nonetheless! It is a 2-hour drive to Utica’s Union Station.

The following ideas would probably require an overnight unless you’re feeling ambitious! I’d also recommend them more in September when the mountain regions are nearing peak foliage change.

Catskill Mountain Railroad (Kingston)

Delaware & Ulster Railroad (Arkville/Catskills)

Rochester Railfans: Trains, Depots, Rail-Trails, Models, & Clubs

Rochester railfans are incredibly lucky that passionate preservationists before us saw the value in retaining structures we appreciate today.

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Autumn in Rochester: Red Creek through Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Valley Park

6. Follow the river

Spend time along the Genesee River on its course through the City of Rochester.

Take a guided hike with the Lower Falls Foundation and learn about Rochester’s history and the importance of the river to our past, present, and future.

13 Places in the City to Enjoy the Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the Genesee River begins her journey through the city, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario.

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Turning Point Park

Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572 ft-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin, part of the greater Genesee Riverway Trail.

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Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

You can climb the 40-foot tower in the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse and enjoy the view of Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, and Ontario Beach Park.

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Maplewood Park

Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls to just north of Route 104, ending at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee.

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Seneca Park and Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is a but a small part of the greater 297-acre Seneca Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893.

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Genesee Valley Park

Genesee Valley Park is a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park located at the intersection of the Erie Canal, Red Creek and Genesee River.

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ROC the Riverway Weekend: October 4-6, 2019

Rochester’s ROC the Riverway Weekend is held every October. It is a celebration of life along the river, with City-sponsored activities, tours, and events.

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Letchworth State Park

If the temperatures have been below freezing for several days in a row, head to Letchworth and check out the ice volcano at the Glen Iris.

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Day Trips in Livingston County

Take a drive through the Livingston County countryside to explore charming village Main Streets, historic districts, nature trails and lakes.

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Autumn in Rochester: Bristol Mountain
Autumn lift rides at Bristol Mountain

7. Get above the canopy

There is nothing like leaf-peeping from above the tree line!

Fall Foliage: 7 Breathtaking Views Near Rochester

These destinations offer colorful fall foliage and varied landscapes so you can appreciate them each in their own unique way.

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Bristol Mountain in the Fall

In the fall, the Comet Express lift is open Noon-4pm for folks to enjoy a quiet and scenic ride to the summit of Bristol Mountain.

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Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area is a New York State Park located in the hills six miles south of Honeoye Lake.

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The Jump Off Trail

The Jump Off Trail in Ontario County Park is ADA-accessible and affords one of the most beautiful scenic views in the Finger Lakes Region.

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Rochester-Area Roadside Attractions - Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany, NY
Rolling Hills Asylum

8. Take a ghost tour

Ghosts are active all year long, but there is something about October that peeks our interest in the paranormal.

From storytelling to investigating, these night trips help to explore the other side of Rochester.

Paranormal Activities: Our 8 Favorite Haunts

There is something about October that peeks our interest in paranormal activities. These night trips explore the other side of Rochester!

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Powers Farm Market
Powers Farm Market

9. Or a haunted hayride

These may scare you more than the ghost tours!

Haunted Hayrides of Rochester (Williamson)

Rochester, NY Haunted Hayride (Spencerport)

Powers Farm Market (Pittsford) *not scary

Powers Farm Market
Powers Farm Market

10. Fun on the farm

Grab some cider & donuts, get lost in a corn maze, and pick your favorite pumpkin on family farms around Rochester.

Pumpkin Patches & Farm Markets Around Rochester

Spending time on our Rochester-area pumpkin farms—hayrides, fresh apple cider & donuts, corn mazes—is the perfect autumn experience.

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What are your favorite ways to enjoy autumn in Rochester?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.