The Monroe County Parks system includes 20 parks that are all worth visiting, but these are the five you absolutely must explore if you haven’t already!
1. Highland Park
Rochester. There is no doubt in my mind when I say that Highland is my favorite of the county parks, and one of my favorite parks in the world. If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will! Walking the paved pathway weaves you up, down, and through a diverse collection of flowers, flowering bushes and trees, taking you from the Pansy Bed to the Poet’s Garden, Tulip Garden, Lamberton Conservatory and the reservoir. If you can visit only once, go in late-April or early-May when the Magnolias, Azaleas, and Lilacs are in bloom. Stop back in early-November to enjoy the Japanese Maple collection. Each month offers its own magnificent experience so I try to go at least once a month!
Rochester’s Olmsted-Designed Parks
2. Mendon Ponds Park
Mendon. Mendon Ponds is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms. It is a truly beautiful space with large ponds perfect for kayaking, fishing, and watching the season’s reflections and sunsets. Devil’s Bathtub is a unique meromictic lake. Feed the sparrows right out of your hand along the Bird Song Trail in winter. Visit Wild Wings to see birds of prey up close.
3. Genesee Valley Park
Rochester. GVP sits at the crossroads of the Genesee River and the Erie Canal with a kayak launch to explore both. Bike, walk or run over several stone bridges, and through the “lightening tree” or “Tree of Life“.
4. Durand Eastman
Irondequoit. Hike the trails around Durand Lake and Eastman Lake. Wander though the arboretum’s diverse tree collection including Pine Valley, Rhododendron Valley, Yew Hill, Oak Grove, and a collection of five dove trees. This is another exceptional example of a park with seasonally-distinctive personalities.
5. Seneca Park
Rochester. In addition to being a beautiful Olmsted-designed park in the City of Rochester, Seneca is also home to our Zoo. Beyond the zoo is the greater Seneca Park with walking trails that follow the river and connect to Maplewood Park across the river via the Genesee Riverway Trail pedestrian bridge.
Which are your favorite county parks?
We’ve explored even more than just these five!