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. At Genesee Valley Park, the river mingles with the Erie Canal and begins her journey through the City of Rochester, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario. The destinations are also highlighted during ROC the Riverway weekend (previously known as River Romance weekend).
Here are five places in the City of Rochester to witness the power and beauty of the Genesee River!
1. Turning Point Park
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.
6 Hidden Places
2. High Falls
High Falls is both the name of the waterfall and the district in the city 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.
33 Roadside Waterfalls
3. Genesee Valley Park
20 Monroe County Parks
4. Maplewood Park
Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls to just north of Rt. 104. When Olmsted designed the park, it was actually part of Seneca Park and was called Seneca Park West. A beautiful pedestrian bridge connects the two parks together.
40 Public Gardens
5. On board the Sam Patch
The Sam Patch calls Pittsford home and usually takes passengers from Schoen Place, through Lock 32, and back again. On certain occasions—like ROC the Riverway weekend—you can find the canal packet boat making a few long-distance runs (2.5 hours from Pittsford to Corn Hill), and short round-trip runs from Corn Hill Landing south on the Genesee River to the Erie Canal.
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.
- Native American tribes built strong communities along the river. Explore the history of Maplewood Park, Geneseo and Letchworth.
- The Genesee was the main reason pioneers settled and developed the marshy, mosquito-infested area that we call home.
- The Genesee River below Lower Falls was part of the Underground Railroad, allowing boats to sail to Canada.
- The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse is the oldest active surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario.