Highland Park June pathway cover

County Parks: Our Favorite 5 to Explore

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!

Highland Park November Japanese Maples

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

Rochester's Geographic History: Mendon Ponds Park Devils Bathtub

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.


Geologic History of the Rochester Area:
5 Locations to Explore

City of Rochester Parks: Genesee Valley Park

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“.


44 New York State Parks
Within a 2-Hour Drive

Rochester-area parks: Durand Eastman Park boardwalk

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.


73 Trails That Are
Not Just a Walk in the Park

Pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River connecting Seneca Park and Maplewood Park

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.


Nature Centers, Wildlife Preserves,
Management Areas, Refuges, and Observatories

Which are your favorite county parks?

We’ve explored even more than just these five!


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