Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn

22 Fabulous Fall Hikes in Monroe County

Autumn in Rochester is a spectacle of vibrant colors and refreshing air, making it an ideal destination for those looking to experience the season in its full glory. From mid-September to early November, the area’s diverse landscapes become a playground for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

This guide highlights 22 of our favorite fall hikes in Monroe County, suitable for a range of preferences and abilities. These trails, offering varied distances and terrains, feature a delightful mix of natural beauty and unique manufactured elements.

Whether you’re searching for tranquility, tree diversity, or scenic waterscapes, these woodland walks are top picks for immersing yourself in autumn’s beauty. So, lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore the breathtaking scenery and serene atmospheres of Monroe County’s fabulous fall hikes!

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

City of Rochester

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

1. Cobbs Hill + Washington Grove

City of Rochester

Because of the Pinnacle Range, all major infrastructure projects—like the canal, subway, and expressway—were routed around the area, leaving this beautiful Cobb’s Hill woodland untouched by development. One of Washington Grove’s trails leads you to the graffiti-tagged water towers.

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

2. Durand-Eastman Park

City of Rochester and Irondequoit

Though you can enjoy a drive through Durand-Eastman Park, stopping at several small parking lots along the way, it is best explored on a bike (paved roads only) or on 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 pallet of colors.

My favorite place to visit in Durand Eastman Park is the Katsura Glen. In the fall, as the sugars drip from the branches’ ends where the leaves have fallen away, there’s a sweet aroma in the air. I smell cotton candy, some smell burnt marshmallows, and others smell nothing at all.

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

3. Genesee Valley Park

City of Rochester

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1888, find GVP where the Erie Canal, Red Creek, and Genesee River intersect. 

Enjoy the four beautiful concrete footbridges that connect the park across each waterway. When Olmsted originally designed the landscape, the Erie Canal ran through Rochester over an aqueduct—now the Broad Street Bridge. In 1918, the state changed the canal route to follow the city’s southern border through Genesee Valley Park, leading to the addition of the bridges.

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

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

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

5. Mount Hope Cemetery

City of Rochester

While the landscape is delightful year-round, the beautiful Mount Hope Cemetery, established in 1838, is extraordinary in October. The diversity of trees in the arboretum displays a vibrant array of colors, with bold yellows and reds carpeting the ground before the snow arrives.

The cemetery is divided into two sections: the south side, the newer area, and the north side, which is older and home to notable figures such as Nathaniel Rochester, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass. The north section’s winding cobblestone roads are best explored on foot and provide a glimpse into the cemetery’s rich history, ecology, and geology. Maps and guided tours are available to provide more in-depth information about the land’s fascinating past, including ice age landforms and fossils. The cemetery is a popular destination for Rochester residents seeking a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. Walkers, runners, and bikers often use the well-maintained roadways, even during the colder months.

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

6. Seneca Park & Zoo

City of Rochester

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

Behind the zoo 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 - Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden
Fall Hikes - Warner Castle
Warner Castle

7. 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 and down the grassy lawn. There, you will find the Sunken Garden—a peaceful retreat any time of the year, especially in autumn. Continue your walk behind the garden, and you’ll end up at Highland Bowl.

The 1854 Gothic-style castle is now the headquarters for the Landmark Society of Western New York. In 1930, landscape architect Alling S. DeForest, who also designed the Eastman estate’s gardens, added the sunken garden to the property.

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

8. Turning Point Park

City of Rochester

Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572-foot-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin. The boardwalk takes visitors onto the river, close to blue herons, swans, turtles, deer, and other wildlife.

Consider starting your walk from the north at Petten Street by the marina and O’Rorke Bridge for minimal elevation change. Along this section, you’ll see the abandoned 150-foot Spirit of Rochester, which offered lake cruises from 1985 to 2004.

To begin at the south end, park in the Boxart Street lot. Most people walk north and down the steep, paved road toward the river, but you can also take the train-grade path by heading south for a half-mile from the parking lot and turning left at the Genesee Riverway Trail’s split near Brewster Harding Park. This route through Bullock’s Woods follows a seasonal creek with a small waterfall.

Monroe County

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

9. Braddock Bay Marina Trail

Greece

To access the Braddock Bay Marina Trail, turn off Manitou Rd into Westpoint Marina and head to the north end of the parking lot. From there, enjoy a one-mile in-and-out hike along the Lake Ontario shoreline, rounding a bend to the trail’s end. This is one of my 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 birding spot.

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

10. Channing H. Philbrick Park

Penfield

As Irondequoit Creek passes through Channing H. Philbrick 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 footbridges. 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 - North Ponds Park Webster picnic
North Ponds Park Webster bike path
Fall Hikes - North Ponds Park Webster walking path
Charles E Sexton (North Ponds) Park

11. Charles E. Sexton Park

Webster

Charles E. Sexton Memorial Park, formerly known as North Ponds Park, features a one-mile paved path that circles two large ponds with minimal elevation change.

Along the path, you’ll find eight fitness stops designed for various abilities and heights. It also connects with other trails in Webster, such as the Bird Sanctuary Trail, Hojack Rail Trail, and the Route 104 Trail, making it a great starting point for longer hikes or rides.

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

12. Gosnell Big Woods

Webster

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

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

13. Hart’s Woods

Perinton

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

Fun fact: Beech trees reproduce best in the shade of maple trees, 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 the Rochester area’s 11 National Natural Landmarks.

Helmer Nature Center
Helmer Nature Center
Helmer Nature Center fall
Helmer Nature Center
Helmer Nature Center

14. Helmer Nature Center

Irondequoit

At Helmer Nature Center, explore 45 acres owned and operated by the West Irondequoit Central School District as an outdoor classroom. Find one-and-a-half miles of combined dirt, wood chip, boardwalk, and gravel trails, with many spots covered in tree roots through the valley floor. The terrain is hilly and tree-covered, making Helmer an excellent place for peaceful woodland exploration.

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

15. 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 marked and unmarked trails 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.

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

16. Oatka Creek Park

Scottsville

In the undeveloped Oatka Creek Park, some pathways may be muddy and shared with horses, but there is little elevation change. The pathways lead through woodlands and wildflower meadows, offering a peaceful and picturesque experience. One highlight of the park is the purple trail that leads to a bridge over Oatka Creek, while the black trail features a beautiful quaking aspen grove.

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

17. Powder Mills Park

Pittsford

In Powder Mills Park, follow the marked trails to stroll through Irondequoit Creek’s wetlands, meadows, and woodlands.

Bring a handful of quarters to the fish hatchery to purchase food pellets to feed up to 20,000 fish at different stages of development. In partnership with Swain Ski Resort, Powder Mills has a gradual ski slope accessed by a single rope tow, an on-site lodge, rental equipment, and experienced ski and snowboard instructors. Don’t miss the fascinating Mushroom House next to the hatchery parking lot. 

Visit the Daffodil Meadow from late April through mid-May to see the flowers in full bloom. Park along Thornell Drive to access the 0.2-mile hard-packed gravel pathway, or take the moderately challenging 0.7-mile dirt trail along Irondequoit Creek to reach the meadow from Powder Mills Park.

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

18. Rochester Junction

Mendon, Lehigh Valley Rail Trail

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

Head east from here, and you can walk down one branch trail and return along 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 northwest branch, you’ll head 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 - Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Fall Hikes - Rotary Park Honeoye Falls
Rotary Park

19. Rotary Park

Honeoye Falls

At Rotary Park in Honeoye Falls, enjoy the simple 0.25-mile Zebulon Norton 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 - Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park
Fall Hikes - Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park

20. Tinker Nature Park

Henrietta

Tinker Nature Park comprises 68 acres along the Pittsford-Henrietta town border, with trails and boardwalks for all abilities.

The one-mile perimeter trail is flat and ideal for jogging, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, and walking. Shorter trails branch off the perimeter path and take visitors through unique ecosystems such as woodland, wetland, and meadow. Be sure to visit the Hansen Nature Center and check out the Tinker Homestead and Farm Museum during an open house or by appointment.

Fall Hikes - Webster Arboretum
Webster Arboretum
Webster Arboretum

21. Webster Arboretum

Webster

Covering 32 acres, Webster Arboretum is maintained by local garden clubs and boasts a pond, winding paths, various trees and shrubs, and formal gardens. This is a perfect spot for fall walks in solitude, seeing fewer visitors than some of the neighboring parks and preserves.

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

22. Whiting Road Nature Preserve

Webster

Whiting Road Nature Preserve in Webster has a variety of trails of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. The longer, more challenging trails have steeper grades and more tree roots, making them more suitable for experienced hikers and bikers. The shorter trails closer to the parking lot are less challenging.

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

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

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

I love October in Rochester, especially spending more time outside. So, I can’t help but notice that Genesee Country Village & Museum has extended its programming to open the village on fall weekends. Beyond the annual spooky season and harvest events, they’re now open throughout October for Family Fall Weekends and Leaf Peeping Weekend. And November includes Changing Seasons Weekend and Veterans Weekend. It’s a good time to become a member!

And the Agricultural Fair is the perfect fall kickoff event!

GCVM is one of my favorite fall hikes (and winter hikes) in Monroe County. And while that traditionally has been focused on the Nature Center trails, I’m now thrilled to include the village as an option. The foliage in the square and the cooking fires call out to my inner Little House of the Prairie and Gilmore Girl.

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Where are your favorite fall hikes in Monroe County?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of daytrippingroc.com and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

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