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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


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 Geographic History: Mendon Ponds Park Devils Bathtub

2. Mendon Ponds Park


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. You’ll also find the fairy houses here that were moved from Tinker Park in 2019.

Visit Wild Wings to see birds of prey up close.


City of Rochester Parks: Genesee Valley Park

3. Genesee Valley Park


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“.


Rochester-area parks: Durand Eastman Park boardwalk

4. Durand Eastman


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.


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

5. Seneca Park


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.


Ready for some more Monroe County parks?

Black Creek Park

At 1,505-acres, Black Creek Park is one of the largest of Monroe County’s 20 parks, second only to Mendon.

Read more

Greece Canal Park

Greece Canal Park encompasses 577 acres, with 4 easy walking trails varying in length under 1.5 miles over level or gently rolling terrain.

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Oatka Creek Park

Oatka Creek Park in Wheatland is one of the more strollable in the Monroe County Park system, with little change in elevation along the 3.3 mile loop trail.

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Ellison Park

Irondequoit Creek meanders through Ellison Park on its way to Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario, with a dog park, sledding, ice skating, & disc golf course.

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Powder Mills Park

Powder Mills Park favorites include the fish hatchery, Daffodil Meadow Trail in early May, The Mushroom House, and fishing Irondequoit Creek.

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Ontario Beach Park

Lake Ontario Beach Park is located at the northernmost tip of the city of Rochester, and is bordered on the East by the mouth of the Genesee River.

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20 Monroe County Parks

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

Read more

Which are your favorite county parks?

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


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COVID-19 NOTE: 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 and locally—seek solitude!