When temperatures stay above ninety degrees for several days, we all need to find a place to either retreat to an air-conditioned environment or keep cool outdoors. Water and shade are critical. Here are a few suggestions.
On a hot day, you can sit under a waterfall, swim in a lake, or jump in a creek at one of these refreshing natural swimming areas.
As a general guide, most swimming areas are open between Father’s Day and Labor Day. Please check to make sure they are open before you go, as water quality and weather can affect access. Unless otherwise noted, swimming is limited to times when a life guard is on duty and in designated areas.
City of Rochester
Ontario Beach Park
Ontario Beach Park is located at the northernmost tip of the city of Rochester, its eastern border the Genesee River and pier. Enjoy a swim at the sandy beach.
Durand Eastman Beach
Encompassing 5,000 feet of shoreline, find the designated swimming area at Lot A near Horseshoe Rd.
Hamlin Beach State Park
Find guarded sandy beaches in Areas 3 and 4, with bathhouses and concession stands available. Dogs are allowed to swim at the unguarded beaches in Areas 1 and 5.
The creek passes through Scottsville before it reaches the Genesee River. The “George” is a favorite among bridge jumpers, though it is an unguarded and potentially deadly activity. Upstream, wade in under the Rochester Street bridge to benefit from its shade.
Sodus Point Beach Park
Find a sandy beach right next to the pier, with concessions and a bathhouse.
At your own risk, enjoy this two mile-long in-and-out creek walk to find two 60-foot waterfalls.
Long Point Park
The closest Finger Lake to Rochester, enjoy a swim at this small rocky beach.
Sandy Bottom Park Beach
Enjoy a sandy guarded swimming beach with a bathhouse.
The guarded sandy beach and bathhouse are located next to the city pier.
Complete with bathhouse, enjoy a swim at this small, rocky beach.
Deep Run Beach
A beautiful little pocket-pack along the eastern shore, enjoy a swim at this small rocky beach, complete with a bathhouse.
Keuka Lake State Park
Find a large sandy beach and bathhouse.
Seneca Lake State Park
In addition to the shallow, sandy beach, there’s an incredible 100 water jet spray-ground to enjoy.
Sampson State Park
Enjoy a small, sandy beach with bathhouse.
Darien Lakes State Park
Enjoy a sandy swimming beach and a picnic on Picnic Island.
Robert H. Treman State Park
Swim in a stream-fed pool beneath a Enfield Glen’s waterfall. The diving board is the most popular amenity.
Buttermilk Falls State Park
Swim in the pool beneath Buttermilk Creek’s lower falls.
Fillmore Glen State Park
Enjoy the refreshing stream-fed swimming pool, plus a roped-off wading area.
Walk a short 0.25-mile creek-side trail, with stairs secured to the gorge’s shale wall, to wade under 60-foot Eagle Cliff Falls. This is an unguarded area.
Stony Brook State Park
Swimming is permitted only in the sectioned-off pool. Wading is discouraged along the rest of the gorge, with fines imposed.
Fair Haven Beach State Park
Featuring one of the most unique settings along the lake, enjoy the view of towering shoreline bluffs from the sandy guarded beach.
A small, sandy swimming beach in Krull Park, next to the Lakeview Village Shops and Olcott Carousel Park, offers a fun day trip with the little ones. There’s also a splash pad across the street.
Wilson Tuscarora State Park
Along a thin band of shoreline, find a small, guarded, pebble beach with a bathhouse.
Beaver Island State Park
With Niagara Falls located only 14 miles down stream, the thought of swimming in the Niagara River seems daunting! At the south end of Grand Island, enjoy a sandy swimming beach, plus kayak launches, biking and walking trails, and a nature center.
Cayuga Lake State Park
A long and narrow pebbly-sand beach offers access to the cool water.
Taughannock Falls State Park
Swim out to a jump-off dock from the narrow pebbly-sand beach. A bathhouse and concession stand is also available. Swimming is prohibited in the gorge.
Long Point State Park
A small, grass and stone beachfront provides access to the water. There is a bathhouse available.
A small, rocky beach sits beside one of only three lighthouses on Cayuga Lake, the only Finger Lake with lighthouses.
There is a pebbly-sand beach on an island created by two branches of the Owasco Outlet, complete with a bathhouse. This is an exceptional city park, with walking paths, gardens, and popular fishing pier.
A set of concrete steps connects the grassy park to the water.
Green Lakes State Park
One of the most unique swimming holes around, take a dip in the turquoise waters of 195-feet deep Green Lake. As a meromictic lake, the water is so deep that the top and bottom never mix, allowing it to remain crystal clear. There is a bathhouse and concession stand available.
Allegany State Park
Quaker Lake and Red House Lake
At both lakes, find sandy beaches from which to enjoy a swim.
Verona Beach State Park
Find a sandy, shallow swimming beach and a splash pad
Oneida Shores County Park
Enjoy a section for inflatables at this shallow, sandy beach, complete with a bathhouse.
This sandy swimming beach, with a bathhouse, is located next to the Coney Island-like Sylvan Beach Amusement Park.
Evangola State Park
Enjoy the view of tall shale cliff walls lining the shore of this sandy swimming beach with bathhouse.
Woodlawn Beach State Park
Enjoy a mile-long sand beach, a bathhouse, and concession stands in view of massive wind turbines lining the shore just south of Buffalo.
City of Rochester
4600 Culver Rd, Rochester
250 Eastern Blvd, Canandaigua
Six Flags Darien Lake
9993 Alleghany Rd, Corfu
Palm Island Indoor Waterpark
Quality Inns & Suites
8250 Park Rd, Batavia
Thunder Island Waterpark
21 Wilcox Rd, Fulton
Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World
2400 Grand Island Blvd, Grand Island
Pools in State Parks
Letchworth State Park
2280 Park Rd, Mt Morris
Watkins Glen State Park
1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen
Fort Niagara State Park
1 Scott Ave, Youngstown
City of Rochester
Recreation Centers cityofrochester.gov
85 Adams St, Rochester
200 Avenue D, Rochester
Trenton and Pamela Jackson
485 N. Clinton Ave, Rochester
The Honorable Willie Walker Lightfoot
271 Flint St, Rochester
Genesee Valley Sports Complex
131 Elmwood Ave, Rochester
*note, this has been under construction and should be close to completion. Please call ahead.
Harro East Athletic Club
400 Andrews St, Rochester
Midtown Athletic Club
200 E Highland Dr, Rochester
JCC of Greater Rochester
1200 Edgewood Ave, Rochester
Webster Aquatic Center
875 Ridge Rd, Webster
Perinton Community / Aquatic Center
1350 Turk Hill Rd, Fairport
Penfield Sport & Fitness
667 Panorama Trail W, Rochester
Irondequoit Country Club
4045 East Ave, Rochester
Goldfish Swim School
3349 Monroe Ave, Rochester
Judson/Hale Aquatics Center
One Lomb Memorial Dr, Rochester
Lots D, N, and U
Locations in Greece, Irondequoit, Webster, and Henrietta
YMCA of Greater Rochester
Several branches in and around Rochester
Splash Pads & Spray Parks
City of Rochester
Recreation Centers cityofrochester.gov
500 Carter St, Rochester
41 Backus St, Rochester
David F. Gantt
700 North St, Rochester
1045 Atlantic Ave, Rochester
Thomas P. Ryan
530 Webster Ave, Rochester
Roxie Ann Sinkler
75 Grover St, Rochester
524 Campbell St, Rochester
Plus, spray parks for children age 6 and under: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, Fourth & Peck Park, and Troup Street Park
1301 Lakeshore Blvd, Rochester
Town of Greece Spray Park
1 Vince Tofany Blvd, Greece
Union Station Park
25 Rock Island Rd, North Chili
Ogden Splash Pad
Pineweay Ponds Park
1 Park Road, Spencerport
Sweden Town Park Splash Pad & Playground
4745 Redman Rd, Brockport
Edmund Lyon Park
100 E Ivy St, East Rochester
985 Ebner Dr, Webster
Webster First Responders Park
1350 Chiyoda Dr, Webster
Seneca Lake State Park Sprayground
1 Lakefront Dr, Geneva
1 Lakefront Dr, Geneva
6108 E Lake Rd, Olcott, NY 14126
Our gorge trails represent the Finger Lakes Region’s uniqueness. Exploring a place that includes gorge, gully, glen, or ravine in its name guarantees a memorable experience.
Regardless of the distinction, these locations share a common trait–a path along a creek that leads to a waterfall. Many are shaded, making the temperature sometimes ten degrees cooler than the surrounding countryside. What makes each unique is for you to discover!
Corbett’s Glen Nature Park. While the Glen Rd entrance is closest to Allen’s Creek and the waterfalls, the Penfield Rd entrance offers the chance to experience the expansive woodland and wetland trails that lead toward the creek.
Greater Rochester Region
Letchworth State Park. While Letchworth’s middle- and upper falls are viewable from the roadside, the lower falls in the Genesee River gorge are not easily accessible. Take 127 stone steps down–and back up–to explore the falls, stone footbridge, and unique ecological and manufactured environment.
Grimes Glen. A 0.5-mile walk through Grimes Creek leads to the first 48-foot cascade. Enjoy a short section of creekside trail before it becomes necessary to walk in the water. After another 0.5-mile walk, find the second fall, a 60-foot cascade. Once reached, retrace your steps to return to the lot.
Gully Preserve, sometimes referred to as Whitman’s Gully, is an untamed place of natural beauty open year round. There is an easy pathway on the right that leads to Mill Creek from the road. Viewing the first waterfall from the bottom, and continuing deeper into the preserve, is best suited for advanced hikers, though this is an ideal place for casual hikers to gain that experience.
Havana Glen, including McClure Creek and Eagle Cliff Falls, is a town park and campground. The short 0.25-mile trail, with a set of stairs secured to the gorge’s shale wall, leads to the fall’s base.
Barnes Creek Gully. Part of Onanda Park, but across West Lake Rd from the swimming beach, find a moderately challenging two-mile hiking trail and creek walk through the uplands. The creek will guide you toward the first of three cascades. The trail becomes more difficult after climbing the fall; many people turn back toward the parking lot at this point.
Watkins Glen State Park. The gorge is roughly 1.5 miles long, with a 520-foot elevation rise from the lower Main Entrance to the Upper Entrance. The gorge trail, with its 800 stone steps wet with spray, is the highlight of Watkins Glen. It’s one of the most transcending, awe-inspiring, and wondrous displays of Earth’s extraordinary beauty. Walk through the gorge, hike the rim trails, or use the $5 cash-only shuttle to return to your car.
Stony Brook State Park. The gorge along Stony Brook is 0.75 miles. Most visitors will hike in and out along the Gorge Trail, enjoying the stream-fed pool, waterfalls, and stone bridges along the way. The walkway comprises shale, gravel, and stone steps.
Akron Falls. The trail alongside Murder Creek–open year round–is a flat walk through a dense forest ravine, leading straight to a magnificent 40-foot waterfall. Start walking from the main parking lot by the dam, or, for quick access, park above the falls at the lot closest to the Rock Garden. Halfway down the paved path leading to the bottom of the ravine, turn right to find a platform from where to observe the waterfall safely. Retrace your steps to follow the trail down further to the right to access the bottom of the ravine. At this point, notice that a clear path is visible to the left. But, turning right, it becomes strewn with boulders. While the adventurous continue to navigate around the rocks toward the fall’s base, they’ll come to a sign advising visitors to go no further.
Eternal Flame Falls. Fun fact, the natural gas flame, sheltered in a tiny cave under a lovely waterfall, isn’t eternal. Bring a lighter if you want to see it in all its glory. This unique geologic feature is a dazzling reward for your hard work. Take the moderately difficult 0.56-mile trail to the creek bed and follow the water upstream. To find an optimal walking path, cross back and forth along the creek using stones and fallen logs—most people end up walking in the water. Retrace your steps back to the parking lot.
Royalton Ravine County Park. While the dirt trails can be muddy, the Red Trail along East Branch Eighteen Mile Creek leads to a bouncy 138-foot suspension bridge that crosses the ravine three-feet above the creek. Continue on to search for 15-foot Norton’s Falls and the ruins of Belva Lockwood Homestead. The falls are not easily accessible and are best viewed after a steady rain, which also means the trails will be extremely muddy.
Wells Falls is a set of four cascading falls where Six Mile Creek drops 65 feet against the backdrop of an old mill. Park at Mulholland Wildflower Preserve and cross the bridge to find the 0.2-mile gravel and dirt pathway to access the gorge below the falls.
Cascadilla Gorge. Cascadilla Creek produces several waterfalls, ranging from swift cascades to 80-foot drops, as it descends 400 feet through Cascadilla Gorge. Starting from the bottom—where the minor falls and cascades are located—lets you encounter increasingly breathtaking waterfalls as you walk up the 0.5-mile gorge trail.
Robert H. Treman State Park. Along the gorge trail, with a 1,035-foot elevation change, discover 12 waterfalls, including 70-foot lower Enfield Falls and 115-foot Lucifer Falls in the upper gorge. Enjoy a moderately challenging 4.5-mile out-and-back hike, or take the upper park’s gorge- and rim trail combination loops. Take a dip in the stream-fed pool next to the lower parking area. And explore the early nineteenth-century Enfield Falls Mill next to the upper parking area.
Buttermilk Falls State Park. Stairs are prevalent along the 0.65-mile Buttermilk Creek Gorge Trail. Once you reach the stone bridge, you can continue toward the upper park, retrace your walk through the gorge, or cross the creek and take the Rim Trail back to the parking area. Enjoy a swim in the natural stream-fed pool beneath Buttermilk Falls next to the parking area.
Niagara River Gorge. The Rim Trail is an easy 6.2-mile walking path above the river, connecting four state parks—Niagara Falls, Whirlpool, Devil’s Hole, and Artpark in Lewiston. Observation areas offer stunning views of the turquoise rapids far below. The pathways that lead to the river’s edge are challenging, with stone steps in various states of repair.
Fillmore Glen State Park. Along the 1.3-mile gorge trail following Dry Creek, enjoy a stream-fed swimming pool, four waterfalls, several bridges, and a replica log cabin where our nation’s 13th President, Millard Fillmore, was born. Retrace your steps through the gorge, or take the North Rim Trail back to the parking lot. Stone steps–140 in the beginning and several along the trail–and muddy paths make this a moderately challenging hike. Just beyond the pool, before heading up to gorge, take a very short detour to the base of Cow Shed Falls.
Very few places allow visitors to walk, wade, or swim in a creek. People often share fond memories of standing under Stony Brook’s waterfalls or splashing in the stream at Corbett’s Glen. For these places to remain healthy for generations to come, park management prohibits access to the water, with fines imposed. Check out the next chapter on swimming holes.
At time of publication, there are several sites where creek walking is necessary to access cascades beyond the reach, or in the absence, of established creekside trails. Let us continue to be good stewards for these freshwater tributaries while exploring.
Barnes Creek Gully
Eternal Flame Falls
Escape Extreme Heat by Staying Inside
Many people who live in Rochester don’t have air conditioning at home. Extreme heat lasts only a few days in any given year, so it’s less expensive to keep the shades drawn and open the windows at night. Going to the movies, libraries, museums, and even Wegmans are great places to find climate-controlled temperatures. Here are a few places you can go to enjoy the cold air.
Where to you go to escape extreme heat?
Please share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments. Your insight and experience are invaluable!