When I initially think of walking on a boardwalk, the Eastern Seaboard comes to mind with the fabulous beach boardwalks in Atlantic City, Wildwood, Ocean City, Myrtle Beach, Coney Island, and Virginia Beach. Featuring shops, bars, casinos, and entertainment, ocean-side boardwalks draw massive crowds throughout the summer.
Alas, this is Rochester. So when I think of boardwalks here, my mind goes to trail systems where boardwalks are incorporated along the pathway to help people meander through wetlands or help preserve wildlife from the footsteps of human explorers.
Either way, I do love boardwalks wherever they appear! Here are some of my favorites.
Boardwalks as Part of Trail Systems
1. Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park comprises 68-acres in Henrietta with a 1.2-mile flat perimeter trail for jogging, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, or walking.
2. Channing H. Philbrick Park
As Irondequoit Creek passes through Channing H Philbrick Park, it drops 90 feet over one mile, giving us the cascades that make this park unique.
3. Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
At 10,828 acres, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in New York State, not including the surrounding Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas. Together, the Alabama Swaps amass a 19,000-acre complex designated for wildlife.
Located on Knowlesville Road, the 1.3-mile Swallow Hollow Nature loop trail offers ramps, gravel pathways, and boardwalks, making it accessible for all to enjoy this unique ecosystem.
4. Sandy Bottom Park & Nature Trails
Located at the north end of Honeoye Lake, find Sandy Bottom Park, Honeoye Creek Outlet, and a trail system that combines raised boardwalks and a mowed grass path through agricultural land along Mill Creek.
Note: As of April 2022, there are reports that the boardwalk is under construction and may not be accessible this year.
5. Turning Point Park
City of Rochester
Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572 ft-long boardwalk over the Genesee River Turning Basin, part of the Genesee Riverway Trail.
6. Christine Sevilla Wetlands Preserve
This cattail and wooded wetland preserve is part of a much larger (1,000+ acres) wetland targeted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for protection.
The juxtaposition of the Christine Sevilla Wetlands Preserve’s wetlands, including wet meadow, cattail wetland, and swampy woods, make it an excellent habitat for dragonflies, butterflies, and other unique wildlife.
Take a stroll along the boardwalk to see what you can find hidden among the many species of grasses, ferns, and sedges lining the trail.
7. Yanty Creek Nature Trail & Marsh
Hamlin Beach State Park
Yanty Marsh is a lakeshore wetland that provides a habitat for various marsh-nesting birds, amphibians, and turtles. An observation platform is an excellent place for wildlife watching.
For a closer look, paddle into the marsh from one of the boat launches on the lake.
8. Helmer Nature Center
The paths at Helmer Nature Center, made primarily of wood chip, boardwalk, and hard-pack gravel, are easy to navigate and well marked.
9. Mendon Ponds Park
There are several boardwalks in the park. The boardwalks along the green Devil’s Bathtub Trail and through the bog at David’s Nature Trail off of the yellow Birdsong Trail are shown above.
Devil’s Bathtub is one of New York’s rare meromictic lakes, similar to Green Lakes. It’s so deep and so protected by the geologic features around it that the layers in the water do not mix or “turn over.”
10. Thomas Creek Wetland Walk
Many folks, when visiting Fairport, walk along the canal path, not knowing that the Thomas Creek Wetland Walk is running parallel to them.
Thomas Creek Wetland Walk is two separate paths—one is gravel, the other boardwalk with a seasonal viewing platform. They both connect with the Erie Canal Trail.
11. Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area
The Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area is a shallow water bay-marsh complex existing in five units along the Lake Ontario shoreline, ranging from two to six miles west of Rochester.
12. Meridian Centre Park
The trails are primarily flat. Some are gravel, others wood chip, with a section of beautiful boardwalk.
There are nature paths & an arboretum in the western part of the park with plantings and wooden arches, making this a popular destination for bird watchers.
13. Huckleberry Swamp
Huckleberry Swamp is a unique nature preserve and wildlife observation area. It has 79 acres of diverse, high-quality wetlands for bird and wildlife habitat conservation.
A wildlife observation deck and boardwalk meanders through various wetland habitats, including emergent marsh, Green Ash Wetland, and Red Maple Wetland. Springtime heron rookery.
14. Thousand Acre Swamp
Thousand Acre Swamp is full of unique habitats ranging from marshy lowlands to forested upland tracts. An extensive boardwalk and trail system winds through the preserve, one of Monroe County’s largest wetland systems.
Ten trails on the property show you a world of wildflowers, animals, birds, and other natural wonders.
15. Lakeview Village Shoppes
The stores are a quaint collection of gift, specialty, and food shops on a boardwalk overlooking Lake Ontario.
And right down the street is the Olcott Beach Carousel Park (closed during the pandemic). It features a 1928 style Hershell-Spillman two-row carousel, five vintage kiddie rides, and a 1931 Wurlitzer band organ.
16. Ontario Beach Park
In the City’s Charlotte neighborhood, you’ll find a long walking pier extending out into the lake, the original Abbott’s Frozen Custard, the original 1905 Dentzel Carousel, restaurants with waterfront seating, a couple of beloved “greasy spoons,” bars, the Port of Rochester and marina, a boardwalk, and plenty of lot and street parking. There is a free public swimming beach.
17. Seneca Lake
Enjoy a walk through Lakefront Park, part of which is a boardwalk, by the Finger Lakes Welcome Center, and ice cream on Long Pier. Take an even longer walk along the north shore through Seneca Lake State Park to the marina.
18. Durand-Eastman Lakeside Trail
Enjoy a walk along the 5,000 feet of Lake Ontario shoreline and the boardwalk leading to Seabreeze. Or find several smaller ones around Durand and Eastman Lakes.
Where are your favorite boardwalk trails?
Please share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments. Your insight and experience are invaluable!