The 157-mile Genesee River originates just south of the PA border, passing over Letchworth State Park’s waterfalls and the Mount Morris Dam.
She swiftly meanders through Geneseo, Avon, Rush, Chili, and Henrietta.
Here are several places in the City of Rochester to witness the power and beauty of the Genesee River, starting at the southernmost point, making your way to the mouth at Lake Ontario.
Day Trips Along the Genesee River
- Genesee Valley Park
- Bausch + Lomb Riverside Park
- Corn Hill
- Genesee Gateway Park
- Promenade at Erie Harbor
- Blue Cross Arena Memorial Park
- Aqueduct Park
- Crossroads Park
- High Falls
- Maplewood Park
- Seneca Park
- Turning Point Park
- Ontario Beach Park
1. Genesee Valley Park
Both picturesque and functional, GVP has 4 concrete foot bridges that connect the park across the Erie Canal, Genesee River, and Red Creek near East River Road.
They feel like they’ve always been there, but they were not originally part of Olmsted’s design. That is because in 1888, when Olmsted designed Genesee Valley Park, the Erie Canal was running through Center City Rochester over an aqueduct which is now the Broad Street Bridge.
2. Bausch + Lomb Riverside Park
Maintained by the University of Rochester, this linear park extends the length of Wilson Boulevard to the Ford Street Bridge.
There are several opportunities to cross the Genesee River using pedestrian bridges—previously crossings for the Lehigh Valley Railroad—and the Ford Street Bridge.
3. Genesee Gateway Park
Gateway is another linear park along the east bank between Ford Street and the Frederick Douglass–Susan B. Anthony Memorial I-490 bridge.
4. Corn Hill Landing
On the west back across from Gateway, Corn Hill Landing is home to a few restaurants and a boat launch. The historic Corn Hill neighborhood is jam packed with fascinating architecture; some of the oldest in the city.
5. Promenade at Erie Harbor
This is a newly-created public space just behind Dinosaur Barbecue on the west bank. It’s a great spot to enjoy the Genesee River dam and Johnson-Seymour Mill Race.
From the City of Rochester’s website:
“The City has a variety of permits and easements to access the site, including a permanent easement through the site to provide public access to the river front.”
6. Blue Cross Arena Memorial Park
This park is right behind Blue Cross Area, and offers a spectacular view of the Rundel Library building and a sneak-peek under Broad Street into the abandoned subway/canal aqueduct.
7. Aqueduct Park
A pocket park on Main Street.
8. Genesee Crossroads Park
A small linear park connecting Main Street with Andrews Street, with a bridge to the east bank connecting Major Charles Carroll Plaza and Sister City Garden.
9. High Falls
High Falls is both the name of the waterfall and the historic district where it can be found.
There are several places to view the falls: the east-side viewing platform, the roof of Genesee Brew House, and the Pont de Rennes Bridge are the most common.
On the west-side of the river, walk the cobblestone streets and learn about Rochester’s hydro-power history.
10. Maplewood Park
Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls north just past the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
The Genesee River at Maplewood Park below Lower Falls was part of the Underground Railroad, allowing boats to sail to Canada.
11. Seneca Park & Zoo
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.
12. Turning Point Park
Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572 ft-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin.
You can begin your exploration of Turning Point Park either at the Boxart St. parking lot and walk downstream, or at the Petten St. lot, walking upstream. The benefit of starting at Petten is not having to trudge up the hill from the river’s edge to the Boxart lot.
13. Ontario Beach Park
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.
In the City’s Charlotte neighborhood you’ll find a long walking pier extending out into the lake, the original Abbott’s Frozen Custard, the original 1905 Dentzel Carousel, restaurants with waterfront seating, a couple of wonderful “greasy spoons”, bars, the Port of Rochester and marina, a boardwalk, and plenty of lot and street parking.
The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse is the oldest active surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario.
Genesee River History
I encourage you to learn more about the river’s geologic and human history. Here are a few facts that may entice you!
The pre-glacial Genesee River emptied into Lake Ontario where Irondequoit Bay is today.
The Hodinöhsö:ni’ built strong communities along the river. Research the history of Avon, Geneseo, Mount Morris and Letchworth.
The Genesee and her waterfalls were the main reasons pioneers settled and developed the marshy, mosquito-infested area that we call home.
Where are your favorite spots along the Genesee River?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!