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Seeking Solitude rail trail

9 Spots to Seek Solitude Around Rochester

If you’ve already explored every inch of your backyard and are looking for more variety, here are a few spots I can recommend where there’s ample space for finding solitude and solace in nature.

On the best of days, we all know the importance of staying active, seeking out fresh air and sunshine (with sunscreen), and connecting with nature. In a social post from Monroe County Parks, they’ve reinforced that idea, stating:

The CDC has flagged mental health as a top concern during this time of high-stress & anxiety. Our parks can provide a well needed respite & escape for our residents, with trails, open spaces & unique characteristics to enjoy.

National Recreation and Park Association social distancing guide
National Recreation and Park Association

In an article by the NYS DEC:

Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, ride a bicycle, fish, or visit a park or state lands is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with immediate household family members, and reduce stress and anxiety when practicing social distancing.

Yet with warmer weather on its way, it becomes critical to not only spend time outside but away from other people. The challenge we’ll start to face will be overcrowding in our popular parks in this time of social distancing.

And as the DEC recommends, we should strive to “move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit.

So here are our favorite places to seek solitude!

Solitude in Al Lorenz Park Mount Morris
Al Lorenz Park
Al Lorenz Park Mount Morris
Al Lorenz Park Mount Morris Pine Grove

1. Al Lorenz Park

Located just across the Genesee River from the Mount Morris entrance to Letchworth park, Al Lorenz is a hidden gem!

Tucked down into the river valley, it has a variety of walking paths, water elements, and diversity of trees, including an extraordinary pine grove.

Solitude in Oatka Creek Park
Oatka Creek Park
Oatka Creek Park goldenrod birch trees
Oatka Creek Park Wheatland Trout Run

2. 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.

What I find most unique about Oatka are the meadows; great spaces to observe wildflowers, birds and other wildlife among the birch trees, and to witness seasonal changes.

It is one of the least used and least developed parks, making for a quiet retreat into nature.

Solitude in Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery pine
Mount Hope Cemetery autumn

3. Mount Hope Cemetery

It may seem odd to think of a cemetery as a family-friendly destination, but Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery is as much park-like as it nearby neighbor Highland Park, yet much less visited.

In 2009, more than 20% of the trees in Mount Hope were characterized as historic, with 250-year-old oak trees, and rare specimen trees gifted to the Cemetery in 1848 by famed 19th-century horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry.

Mount Hope is a rare example of rural Victorian cemetery design, a uniquely preserved urban park, a year round recreational resource and arboretum, a historic outdoor museum.

Solitude in MacKay Wildlife Preserve
MacKay Wildlife Preserve
MacKay Wildlife Preserve
MacKay Wildlife Preserve

4. MacKay Wildlife Preserve

There are interesting man-made and geologic wonders to discover at MacKay Wildlife Preserve in Caledonia.

You’ll find a sea of round, moss-covered boulders, a diverse collection of hardwoods, and unusual land formations, yet very few people!

Solitude in Webster Arboretum
Webster Arboretum
Webster Arboretum

5. Webster Arboretum

This 32.5-acre arboretum in Webster features a pond, meandering trails, rose gardens, and perennial theme gardens, with more than 50 varieties of trees and shrubs.

They also have an impressive evergreen hedge maze!

Solitude in Meridian Centre Park
Meridian Centre Park
Meridian Centre Park boardwalk
Winter break: Meridian Centre Park

6. Meridian Centre

The trails are primarily flat through Meridian Centre Park in Brighton. Some are gravel, others wood chip, with a section of beautiful boardwalk.

There are nature paths & an arboretum in the western part of the park with plantings and wooden arches making this a popular destination for bird watchers.

Solitude in Hamlin Beach State Park Yanty Creek Marsh boardwalk
Hamlin Beach State Park
Hamlin Beach State Park bridge
Hamlin Beach State Park beach

7. Hamlin Beach

Hamlin Beach State Park in Hamlin has seven miles of beautiful biking and walking trails, including a mile-long self-guided tour of a WWII-era CCC/POW camp.

There are plenty of shaded picnic areas perfect for reading a book with your toes in the sand.

The park has been recognized as a premier spot for observing migrating waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds and was named an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.

Solitude on Hemlock Lake
Hemlock Lake
Hemlock Lake Park
Hemlock Lake Park
hemlock lake robs trail
Rob’s Trail

8. Hemlock Lake

As sources of drinking water for the City, there are no buildings along the shoreline of both Hemlock and Canadice lakes, making this the perfect region for peace and quiet.

Enjoy Hemlock Park, located at the north end, as well as several trails and car-top boat launches.

Both lakes are part of the greater Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. The property includes two large undeveloped parcels surrounding both lakes, totaling 6,684 acres.

Ganondagan longhouse
Ganondagan Longhouse
Ganondagan benches
Ganondagan picnic view

9. Ganondagan State Historic Site

The Seneca Art & Culture Center and long house may be closed, but the trails are open!

Ganondagan State Historic Site sits atop Boughton Hill in Victor. It is the original site of the largest 17th century Seneca town, which at its peak had 150 longhouses where only one replica stands today.

The grounds surrounding the cultural center include two interpretive trails that emphasis the significance of plant life, Haudenosaunee culture and history.

A third trail, one mile west on Boughton Hill Road, interprets the history and the importance of Fort Hill, a large fortified storehouse for grain. It connects with Dryer Road Park. From the website, “The location of Gah:ha-da-yan-duk is significant to the Seneca. From this hill, looking south on a clear day, the observer can see Bare Hill, the legendary birthplace of the Seneca nation.”

View a map of all trails here, or just the interpreted trails here.

Solitude on the Lehigh Valley Trail
Lehigh Valley Trail

Finding Solitude on Hiking Trails & Preserves

These trails are much less traveled than those in our park systems. They are more secluded, rustic, and even in the best of times are excellent places to immerse yourself in nature.

30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area at Marina
Braddock Bay Marina Trail
Saint Bernards park on the GRT
Saint Bernard’s park on the GRT
Wayne County Butterfly Trail Lock 30
Wayne County Butterfly Trail at Lock 30
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge trail
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Waterside Trails

Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Honeoye Creek
Lehigh Valley Rail Trail crossing Honeoye Creek near Rochester Junction
30 Day Trips within 30 Minutes of Rochester: Old Canal Lock 62
Old Canal Lock 62
Greater Rochester Region - Keuka Outlet Trail
Keuka Outlet Trail
Ontario Pathways trail head NY-20
Ontario Pathways
Erie-Attica Rail Trail bridge over Genesee River
Erie-Attica Rail Trail
Lehigh Valley Trail Wadsworth Junction Genesee Valley Greenway
Wadsworth Junction on GVT

Rail Trails

Christine Sevilla Wetlands Reserve sunfilled boardwalk
Christine Sevilla

Genesee Land Trust

Other Preserves

Rush Oak Openings Unique Area
Rush Oak Openings Unique Area
Hemlock Lake Robs Trail walking sticks
Rob’s Trail
Little Rock City in Rock City New York State Forest
Little Rock City

DEC State Land

Trail of Hope
Trail of Hope
Brickyard Trail
Brickyard Trail
Ontario County Park Gannett Hill Jump Off Trail
Jump Off – FLX Trail

More Inland Trails

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5 Roadside Attractions Worth Going Out of Your Way For

There are so many interesting roadside attractions near Rochester. As you’re driving around the area, you should at least see these five!

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26 Incredible Creeks Around Rochester

These beautiful creeks around Rochester impact us in such subtle ways they sometimes disappear into the background of our lives.

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Where do you go to find solitude in nature?

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!