Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn

22 Fabulous Fall Hikes in Monroe County

You can walk just about anywhere mid-September through early-November and bear witness to autumn’s beauty, but we wanted to share our favorite fall hikes in Monroe County with you.

Many are short and sweet, or offer options for varied distance and terrain.

These hikes offer a wide range of natural and manufactured elements. The presence of water, tree diversity, and solitude help rank these high on our list!

Quick List of Fall Hikes:

  1. Durand-Eastman Park
  2. Braddock Bay Marina Trail
  3. Rotary Park
  4. Washington Grove
  5. Whiting Road Nature Preserve
  6. Rochester Junction
  7. Highland Park
  8. Channing H. Philbrick Park
  9. Mendon Ponds Park
  10. Turning Point Park
  11. Hart’s Woods
  12. Powder Mills Park
  13. Sunken Garden
  14. Mount Hope Cemetery
  15. Oatka Creek Park
  16. Tinker Nature Park
  17. Webster Arboretum
  18. Greece Canal Park
  19. Seneca Park & Zoo
  20. North Ponds Park
  21. Genesee Valley Park
  22. Gosnell Big Woods
Fall Hikes - Durand Eastman Park Log Cabin Road November
Durand Eastman Park Arboretum
Durand Eastman Park Durand Lake east side
Fall Hikes - Rochester-area parks: Durand Eastman Park boardwalk
Durand Eastman Arboretum

1. Durand-Eastman Park

Irondequoit

Though you can enjoy a drive through the park, stopping at several small parking lots along the way, it is best explored on bike (paved roads only) or by foot.

On a clear, sunny day, the colorful foliage reflecting in the deep blue water of Durand and Eastman Lakes is breathtaking.

Even gray days present a photo-worthy pallete of colors.

Fall Hikes - Braddock Bay Marina Trail
Braddock Bay Marina Trail
Braddock Bay Marina Trail
Fall Hikes - Braddock Bay Marina Trail
Braddock Bay Marina Trail

2. Braddock Bay Marina Trail

Greece

Turn off Manitou Rd into Westpoint Marina and head to the north end of the parking lot. From there, enjoy a 1-mile in-and-out hike along the Lake Ontario shoreline, rounding a bend to the trail’s end.

This is one of my own personal favorite trails in any non-winter season.

If you have waders, or wish to go barefoot, and the water is low, you could walk on the sandbar. It’s an excellent spot for bird-watching.

Fall Hikes - Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Fall Hikes - Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Rotary Park

3. Rotary Park

Honeoye Falls

Enjoy this simple 0.25 mile linear trail along Honeoye Creek, connecting the sports park with North Main Street.

It’s perfect for a short walk in the woods, with several benches to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Fall Hikes - Cobbs Hill Washington Grove water town autumn
Cobbs Hill Washington Grove trail
Cobbs Hill autumn
Fall Hikes - Cobbs Hill Washington Grove path to water towers
Washington Grove

4. Washington Grove

City of Rochester

Because of the Pinnacle Range, all major infrastructure projects—like the canal, subway, and express way—were routed around the area leaving this beautiful Cobb’s Hill woodland untouched by development.

One of Washington Grove’s trails leads you up to the graffiti-tagged water towers.

Fall Hikes - Whiting Road Nature Preserve
Whiting Road Nature Preserve
Whiting Road Nature Preserve
Fall Hikes - Whiting Road Nature Preserve
Whiting Road Nature Preserve

5. Whiting Road Nature Preserve

Webster

There are several trails that run through the preserve ranging in length and challenge.

The longer trails tend to be more difficult for both bikes and hikes, with more tree roots and steeper grades than the shorter trails closer to the lot.

As you can see from the photos, the trails feel like century-worn foot paths rather than neatly manicured wood chip or gravel paths.

While it positively lends to feeling more a part of nature, it is challenging to navigate with strollers or wheelchairs.

Fall Hikes - Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Rochester Junction
Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Rochester Junction
Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Rochester Junction
Fall Hikes - Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Rochester Junction
Rochester Junction

6. Rochester Junction

Mendon, Lehigh Valley Rail Trail

You’d think a straight, flat pathway could be boring but rail trails are anything but! There are many places to start along the Lehigh Valley Rail Trail. Rochester Junction is my personal favorite.

Head east from here and you can walk down one branch trail and return on another using the connector trail before Great Bend Nature Park.

Travel down the western branch and cross Honeoye Creek on a spectacular railroad bridge.

If you take the north-west branch, you’ll be heading toward Lehigh Station Road and the City of Rochester.

The area around Rochester Junction was also the site of the Seneca Village of Totiakton. The village was destroyed in 1687 during the same Denonville expedition that destroyed the village at Ganondagan.

Fall Hikes - Highland Park November Japanese Maples
Highland Park November yellow
Highland Park November yellow leaves
Fall Hikes - Highland Park walkway Japanese Maples
Highland Park

7. Highland Park

City of Rochester

Highland Park was designed to be enjoyed year-round. Every pathway, every tree, every vista and every relationship between the land and water is intentional.

Highland represents a more intimate approach to enjoying fall foliage and other seasonal changes. There are unique structures and plant life to appreciate here as well.

Fall Hikes - Channing Philbrick Linear Park boardwalk low
Channing Philbrick Linear Park fishing
Channing Philbrick Linear Park bridge
Fall Hikes - Channing Philbrick creek
Channing H. Philbrick

8. Channing H. Philbrick Park

Penfield

As Irondequoit Creek passes through the park—previously and better known as Linear Park—it drops 90 feet creating the cascades that make this park so special.

Follow the Irondequoit Creek Trail upstream to find these rickety-looking but completely sturdy foot bridges. The creek will be in view most of the way.

Follow the trail downstream to find a scene resembling Chimney Bluffs with a large sand cliff wall home to large colonies of Bank Swallows.

Fall Hikes - Mendon Ponds Park Bridsong Trail
Mendon Ponds Park Bridsong Trail
Mendon Ponds Park Bridsong Trail
Fall Hikes - Rochester's Geographic History: Mendon Ponds Park Devils Bathtub
Mendon Ponds Devil’s Bathtub

9. Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon

Mendon Ponds Park is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms.

The dozens of trails, both marked and unmarked, range in complexity, terrain, and visual interest.

The woodland Birdsong & Fairy Trail is both easy and popular with families. Bring a few handfuls of black sunflower seeds to feed the birds.

The Devil’s Bathtub Trail is significantly more challenging, with stairs and a potentially muddy pathway, but so rewarding.j

Turning Point Park boardwalk autumn
Turning Point Park
Turning Point Park
Turning Point Park

10. Turning Point Park

City of Rochester

Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572 ft-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin, part of the greater Genesee Riverway Trail.

You can begin your exploration of Turning Point Park either at the Boxart St parking lot and walk downstream, or on River St. near Stutson St. and the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse walking upstream.

Harts Woods Fairport
Harts Woods Fairport
Harts Woods Fairport
Harts Woods National Natural Landmark sign
Harts Woods
National Natural Landmark

11. Hart’s Woods

Perinton

Hart’s Woods is a rare remnant of an original glacial period beech-maple forest in Perinton. This type of forest with two dominant tree species thrives in areas of glacial till. 

Fun fact: Beech reproduce best in the shade of a Maple, and Maple best in the shade of a Beech. As a result, which of the two is dominant in a given forest oscillates from generation to generation. 

There is room for one or two cars at the end of Greenwood Cliff, but I suspect most folks park at Minerva DeLand School down the hill.

Learn more about our the Rochester area’s 11 National Natural Landmarks.

Fall Hikes - Powder Mills Park
Powder Mills Park
Powder Mills Park Rochester NY
Fall Hikes - mill wheel
Power Mills Park

12. Powder Mills Park

Pittsford

The Ridge Trail is a 0.4 mile walk (one way) featuring an overlook point that allows you to see west for miles. Keep your eyes open for the remains of the old Rand household.

With less leaves on the trees between November and May, you’re also able to get a better peek at The Mushroom House.

Fall Hikes - Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden
Fall Hikes - Warner Castle
Warner Castle

13. Warner Castle’s Sunken Garden

City of Rochester

While technically part of Highland Park, most folks do not realize The Sunken Garden is just down Reservoir Street at the corner of Mount Hope.

Take a stroll behind Warner Castle & down the grassy lawn. There you will find the Sunken Garden—a peaceful retreat anytime of the year, especially in autumn.

Continue your walk behind the garden and you’ll end up at Highland Bowl.

Fall Hikes - Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery Ellwanger
Mount Hope Cemetery autumn yellow
Fall Hikes - Mount Hope Cemetery fall foliage sunshine
Mount Hope Cemetery

14. Mount Hope Cemetery

City of Rochester

Mount Hope Cemetery is a special place all year-round, but there’s something about Autumn that turns it into a virtual painting.

Because of the diversity of trees, everywhere you turn you are presented with a new color pallet, and whether sunlight is present or not, you can experience a different vista each time you visit.

In late October before it snows, when the leaves have come to their final resting place, the ground is carpeted in the boldest yellows and reds. The maintenance staff does periodic leaf cleanup on the roads, but in the valleys, the leaves stay where they lay, undisturbed even by the wind.

Fall Hikes - Oatka Creek Park Scottsville NY
Water Trails Around Rochester NY Oatka Creek through Oatka Creek Park Scottsville
Oatka Creek Park Scottsville NY
Fall Hikes - Oatka Creek Park Scottsville NY
Oatka Creek Park

15. Oatka Creek Park

Scottsville

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.

It’s excellent for fall hikes to observe foliage changes and the dying off of meadow flowers.

Make your way down to the creek, too. The Oatka is one of the most popular fishing creeks in Monroe County because it’s stocked with trout from the Caledonia Fish Hatchery upstream.

Fall Hikes - Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park
Fall Hikes - Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park

16. Tinker Nature Park

Henrietta

Tinker Nature Park offers a 1.2-mile flat perimeter trail perfect for an easy stroll in the woods.

There are additional trails that lead off the main trail over boardwalks and though wetlands.

Fall Hikes - Webster Arboretum
Webster Arboretum
Fall Hikes - Webster Arboretum hedge entrance
Webster Arboretum

17. Webster Arboretum

Webster

Follow the pathways that meander around Webster Arboretum’s 40 acres of open spaces, flower & herb gardens, water elements, and a wide variety of trees.

This is a perfect spot for fall hikes and solitude, seeing less visitors than some of the neighboring parks and preserves.

Fall Hikes - Greece Canal Park
Greece Canal Park boat launch
Greece Canal Park path
Fall Hikes - Greece Canal Park stairs
Greece Canal Park

18. Greece Canal Park

Greece

Greece Canal Park encompasses 577 acres, with four easy walking trails, varying in length under 1.5 miles, perfect for shorter fall hikes.

Greece Canal Park is one of two Monroe County Parks connected with the Erie Canal, and one of two with dog parks.

Fall Hikes - Seneca Park north trail
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Ramp to Pedestrian Bridge

19. Seneca Park & Zoo

City of Rochester

The Seneca Park Zoo is a but a small part of the greater 297-acre Seneca Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893.

Behind the zoo, there is a trout pond surrounded by pavilions, a playground and hiking trails that take you down to the river’s edge.

The trails are also part of the greater Genesee Riverway Trail, connecting to Maplewood Park via the pedestrian bridge.

Fall Hikes - North Ponds Park Webster picnic
North Ponds Park Webster island
North Ponds Park Webster bike path
Fall Hikes - North Ponds Park Webster walking path
North Ponds

20. North Ponds Park

Webster

North Ponds’ 1-mile paved loop-trail circumnavigates both ponds. It is perfect for a leisurely stroll, jog, or bike ride.

Fall Hikes - Red Creek through Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Valley Park
30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Genesee Valley Park Rochester
Fall Hikes - Genesee Valley Park Rochester
Genesee Valley Park

21. Genesee Valley Park

City of Rochester

Genesee Valley Park is a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park located at the intersection of the Erie Canal, Red Creek and Genesee River.

The stone bridges that the park is best known for weren’t actually part of Olmsted’s initial landscape. They were added several years later when the canal was rerouted from it’s initial path through the City of Rochester.

Fall hikes over the bridges bring you to several excellent viewpoints throughout the park.

Fall Hikes - Gosnell Big Woods Preserve
Gosnell Big Woods Preserve
Gosnell Big Woods Preserve
Fall Hikes - Gosnell Big Woods Preserve
Gosnell Big Woods

22. Gosnell Big Woods

Webster

Begin at the parking lot on Vosburg Road to access the 0.7-mile in-and-out trail through the Big Woods, and around the 1.2-mile Big Field Trail.

Fall Hikes - Genesee Country Village Munger
Genesee Country Village Agricultural Fair
Genesee Country Village autumn
Genesee Country Village Spirits of the Past
Genesee Country Village Spirits of the Past
Fall Hikes - Genesee Country Village Spirits of the Past
Genesee Country Village
Spirits of the Past

Bonus! Genesee Country Village & Museum

Mumford

The nature trails are fantastic, but they are not the only thing that brings me to GCV in autumn.

It’s the nostalgia of the fall harvest, the spirits of the past, the foliage in the square, and the wood cooking fires that calls out my inner Little House of the Prairie and Gilmore Girl. It’s just so darn pretty!

View GCV Events – If fall events have sold out, look ahead to Yuletide in the Country and the Holiday Open House in December.

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Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Rochester Junction
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Where are your favorite fall hikes in Monroe County?

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

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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

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.