Akron Falls

36 Places to Immerse Yourself in Green

I find green to be a soothing color, especially when surrounded by it. Here are some of my favorite places to go green!

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Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

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Green Lakes
Green Lakes

1. Green Lakes State Park

Green Lakes State Park is located in Fayetteville, which is ten miles east of Syracuse. It is a beautiful park that features two turquoise-colored glacial lakes, walking trails, and a swimming beach on Green Lake. Both Round and Green Lakes are meromictic lakes, which means that there is no mixing of surface and bottom waters during fall and spring. To maintain the sensitive nature of both Green and Round Lakes, no private boats, kayaks, or canoes are allowed in the lakes. Additionally, there is a grove of trees located immediately to the southwest of Round Lake, which is known as the Tuliptree Cathedral and is particularly impressive.

Akron Falls
Akron Falls

2. Akron Falls

Akron Falls Park is a beautiful park that runs along Murder Creek and has several parking areas where you can access the gorge trail below. The primary falls can be found at N 43.01445 W 78.48273, and there is a parking lot just above them at N 43.01531 W 78.48482. You can take a zig-zagging, paved trail down towards the creek and choose to head right to the overlook or left towards the forest floor. If you want to explore the entire trail, head to the right and follow it to the end. Although the waterfall is the main attraction, the trail is a relatively flat walk through a lush, dense forest, making it perfectly peaceful.

Watkins Glen cavern
Watkins Glen

3. Watkins Glen State Park

Glen Creek flows down 400 feet over a 2-mile stretch through Watkins Glen. The Gorge Trail, which spans 806 steps and passes under and over 19 waterfalls, is the best way to explore the park. Although the walking path is well-maintained, it is not easily accessible, and the trail can be wet due to spray from the waterfalls. It is recommended to wear good walking shoes or boots and bring an extra pair to change into. Additionally, the majority of the walk involves climbing up 800 rock stairs if you decide to go the entire length. Please note that the elevation from the Main Entrance to the Upper Entrance rises by 520 feet. However, the experience is also one of the most extraordinary, breathtaking, and transcending natural wonders on the planet!

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Explore Watkins Glen

The heart of the village of Watkins Glen is the 1.5-mile-long gorge, a truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring showcase of nature’s beauty.

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Whirlpool
Whirlpool

4. Whirlpool State Park

Spectacular views of swirling rapids, the whirlpool, and the Niagara River Escarpment, as well as a network of nature trails that descend into the gorge.

Niagara River Gorge. The Rim Trail is an easy six-mile walking path that connects four state parks along the river: Niagara Falls, Whirlpool, Devil’s Hole, and Artpark. Observation areas along the trail offer breathtaking views of the turquoise-colored rapids below. The pathways to the river’s edge at Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool State Parks are challenging because their stone steps are in various states of repair. At the Niagara Falls State Park, visitors can take a free elevator ride down to the river’s edge to explore the ruins of the Schoellkopf Power Station. The gorge trail is closed in winter.

Holley Canal Falls
Holley Canal Falls

5. Holley Canal Falls

Holley Canal Falls, also known as Holley Falls, is located in the center of the public square in the Village of Holley. The water from the falls flows into the glen and joins Sandy Creek below. This water comes from the Erie Canal overflow. The park has a packed gravel loop trail that encircles it and connects the lower falls area to the upper canal area. The hike is easy and a little over a mile long.

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Holley Canal Falls

Holley Canal Falls is located in the heart of the Village of Holley. The water that flows into the glen is overflow from the Erie Canal.

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Havana Glen
Havana Glen

6. Havana Glen

The 40-foot Eagle Cliff waterfall is located very close to the parking lot. However, it is not easily accessible due to a narrow cliff-edge trail and a few sets of stairs. It is recommended that you visit early in the day or during the week to fully appreciate the beauty of the glen and to take photos of the waterfall and the dripping, moss-covered walls. It’s also one of our favorite hidden places!

Darien Lakes
Darien Lakes

7. Darien Lakes State Park

Darien Lake has a diverse landscape, including hills, woodlands, ravines, streams, and Harlow Lake. The park offers campsites and a rustic bridge over a channel to Picnic Island.

Braddock Bay Marina Trail
Braddock Bay Marina Trail

8. Braddock Bay

The Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area is a bay-marsh complex consisting of five units along the Lake Ontario shoreline, which are located 2–6 miles west of Rochester.

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Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area

If you’re cruising on Edgemere along the ponds, or on the parkway near Manitou, you’re enjoying the Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area.

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Allegany
Allegany

9. Allegany State Park

The Red House Area is renowned for its historic Tudor-style Administration Building, which is surrounded by many central attractions, including the Red House Lake. The area offers five miles of paved bike paths, with boat and bike rentals available, as well as a sandy beach for swimming, fishing, and snowmobiling. Nearby attractions include Thunder Rocks and the Stone Tower.

Robert Treman
Robert H Treman

10. Robert H. Treman State Park

An area of natural beauty, with the rugged Enfield Glen gorge as its main attraction, featuring 12 waterfalls, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls. It’s also one of our favorite swimming holes.

Skaneateles
Skaneateles Lake

11. Skaneateles Lake

The village of Skaneateles is located on the northern tip of Skaneateles Lake. You’ll find dozens of boutiques and eateries along Genesee and Jordan streets. It’s the perfect place to get away and enjoy the pace of lake life.

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Explore Skaneateles

The Village of Skaneateles is the perfect place to get away and enjoy the pace of lake life, surrounded by unique boutiques and restaurants.

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Harwood
Harwood Lake

12. Harwood Lake

The Harwood Lake Multiple Use Area, spanning 300 acres, is home to a lake located on its northwestern border. You can fish from any point along the shoreline of the lake, as fishing access is unlimited. To access the lake, there is a DEC access area located two miles south of the Hamlet of Farmersville Station. The access area provides hand launching for car top boats and canoes, with parking spaces available for 24 cars.

Stony Brook State Park gorge trail stairs
Stony Brook

13. Stony Brook State Park

The walkway through Stony Brook is 3/4 of a mile long and includes shale, gravel, and stairs. Stony Brook offers a similar experience to other Finger Lakes gorge parks but is more manageable.

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Stony Brook State Park

The walkway through Stony Brook State Park is a combo of shale, gravel, and stairs alongside waterfalls, similar to the other gorge parks.

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Black Creek
Black Creek

14. Black Creek

Black Creek starts near East Bethany and flows through Genesee Country Park and Forest and Bergen Swamp. It widens as it passes Churchville Park and Black Creek Park before eventually emptying into the Genesee River.

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Black Creek Park

Black Creek Park features a variety of trails with varying lengths. Enjoy a walk around the pond or launch a kayak onto Black Creek.

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On Land

Helmer
Helmer Nature Center

15. Helmer Nature Center

The paths at Helmer Nature Center are easily navigable and well-marked with wood chips, boardwalk, and gravel surfaces.

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Helmer Nature Center

The terrain at Helmer Nature Center is hilly and tree-covered, making is an excellent place for peaceful woodland exploration.

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Mendon
Mendon

16. Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon Ponds is Monroe County’s largest park, encompassing 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands, and glacial landforms.

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Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon Ponds is Monroe County’s most expansive park, with woodlands, ponds, wetlands, and 21 miles of color-coded trails across 2,500 acres.

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MacKay Wildlife Preserve
MacKay Wildlife Preserve

17. MacKay Wildlife Preserve

There are interesting man-made and geologic wonders to discover at MacKay Wildlife Preserve in Caledonia, including a sea of moss-covered boulders.

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MacKay Wildlife Preserve

Visitors to MacKay Wildlife Preserve will find a sea of round moss-covered boulders, a collection of hardwoods, and unusual land formations.

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Panama Rocks
Panama Rocks

18. Panama Rocks Scenic Park

When climbing on the boulders at Panama Rocks, be sure to watch your footing, know your limits, and use common sense.

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Panama Rocks Scenic Park

Watch your footing, know your limits, and use common sense when it comes to climbing on the boulders at Panama Rocks Scenic Park.

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Bergen Swamp
Bergen Swamp

19. Bergen Swamp

The Bergen-Byron Swamp encompasses a diverse set of forest and wetland habitats, which contain an unusually rich variety of plant and animal life.

The Bergen Swamp is a natural ecological succession that has been developing for over 10,000 years since the retreat of the glaciers. The first organisms to grow on the rock left by the glaciers were lichens. Interestingly, even after all these years, lichens can still be found in the Bergen Swamp climax communities, which is a testament to their resilience and ability to adapt to different stages of natural succession.

It is the first-ever private environmental land trust in the United States chartered as a New York State living museum and the first such site to be designated a National Natural Landmark.

Oatka Creek Park
Oatka Creek Park

20. Oatka Creek Park

In this undeveloped county 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.

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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.

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Durand
Durand Eastman

21. Durand Eastman Park

The park encompasses 977 acres of land, including Durand Lake, Eastman Lake, and a swimming beach on Lake Ontario. Landscape architect Bernard Slavin used knowledge gained from working with Olmsted to design Durand Eastman, evident in the variety of mature trees in the arboretum between Zoo and Sweet Fern Roads in Pine Valley, Rhododendron Valley, Fruit Valley, and Katsura Glen.

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Durand Eastman Park

Durand Eastman Park’s 977 acres include an arboretum, hiking trails around Durand and Eastman Lakes, and a swimming beach on Lake Ontario.

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Iroquois
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

22. Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

At 10,828 acres, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in New York State, not including the surrounding Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas. Together, the Alabama Swaps amass a 19,000-acre complex designated for wildlife.

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Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

At 10,828 acres, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is the state’s largest refuge. Alabama Swaps amasses 19,000-acres designated for wildlife.

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Ellison
Ellison

23. Ellison Park

Many people launch their own kayaks and canoes from Ellison Park and paddle through Lucien Moren and Tryon Park to reach the bay.

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Ellison Park

Ellison Park is a popular spot to launch a kayak or canoe and paddle downstream on Irondequoit Creek toward Irondequoit Bay.

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Meridian Centre Park
Meridian Centre

24. Meridian Centre

There are nature paths through Meridian Centre Park in Brighton and an arboretum in the western part of the park with plantings and wooden arches. The trail also connects with the Erie Canalway Trail.

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Meridian Centre Park

There are nature paths in Meridian Centre Park & an arboretum in the western part of the park with plantings and wooden arches.

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Tinker
Tinker Nature Park

25. Tinker Nature Park

Tinker Nature Park comprises 68 acres in Henrietta. It has a 1.2-mile flat perimeter trail for jogging, biking, or walking. There are several splinter trails that wind through the wetland areas.

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Tinker Nature Park

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

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Open Sky

Pick Your Own Blueberries
Berry Picking

26. Berry Picking

There are U-pick farms all around the Greater Rochester Area. Oftentimes, picking your own product is as much a family adventure as it is entertainment.

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9 Rochester U-Pick Seasons

There are U-Pick farms all around the Greater Rochester Area. Often times, picking your own product is as much a family adventure as it is entertainment!

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Highland Hill park view
Highland Park

27. Highland Park

Host to Rochester’s celebrated Lilac Festival in May, Highland boasts the most extensive collection of lilacs in the country, with over 500 varieties across 1,200 shrubs. You’ll also find a vast Japanese Maple collection, 35 types of magnolias, 700 rhododendron specimens, and 300 conifer varieties in the pinetum. Meander along paved and mown-grass pathways to Lamberton Conservatory, Poet’s Garden, Highland Bowl, and Warner Castle’s Sunken Garden. 

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Highland Park in Rochester

Highland Park has even been described as a museum of exotic trees, many of which are the tallest of their species in the state, though few are native.

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Jump Off
Jump Off

28. Jump Off Trail

The Jump Off Trail in Ontario County Park is accessible and provides one of the most stunning scenic views in the Finger Lakes region.

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The Jump-Off Trail

The Jump-Off Trail on Gannett Hill is wheelchair-accessible and offers one of the most breathtaking scenic views in the Finger Lakes Region.

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Webster Arboretum garden
Webster Arboretum

29. Webster Arboretum

Covering 32 acres, the arboretum is maintained by local garden clubs and boasts a pond, winding paths, various trees and shrubs, and formal gardens with over 200 daylily cultivars.

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Webster Arboretum at Kent Park

Covering 32 acres, the arboretum boasts a pond, winding paths, various trees and shrubs, and formal gardens with over 200 daylily cultivars.

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Sandy Bottom Nature Park
Sandy Bottom Nature Park

30. Sandy Bottom Nature Park

This is a wonderful and peaceful location situated in the heart of the Hamlet of Honeoye in Richmond. Please note that it is not the same as the Village of Honeoye Falls in Mendon. The nature trails stretch from East Lake Road all the way to the lake, featuring grass paths and a series of boardwalks that wind through the wetland area between Honeoye Creek and Mill Creek.

Griffis Sculpture Park
Griffis Sculpture Park

31. Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park features more than 250 sculptures that are whimsical, fantastical, and delightful, all of which are integrated into the bucolic landscape.

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Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park features more than 250 sculptures that are whimsical, fantastical, and delightful, all integrated into the landscape.

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Letchworth Gardeau
Letchworth Gardeau Overlook

32. Letchworth

Letchworth is a massive park with plenty of places to enjoy away from high-traffic areas like Middle Falls. Look at the trail maps for secluded spots on both sides of the Genesee! Try a hike along Portage Trail #6 on the east side or on the Letchworth branch of the Finger Lakes Trail, which has multiple trailheads along River Road between Mount Morris and Portage. On the west side of the river, there are trailheads all along Park Road and spots less frequented north of the Castile entrance, like Wolf Creek and the beautiful Gardeau Overlook.

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Explore Letchworth State Park

Letchworth has something for everyone, from hiking one of the park’s 29 trails and picnicking beside a waterfall to taking a scenic drive.

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Ellwanger Estate Garden
Ellwanger Estate Garden

33. Ellwanger Estate Garden

The Landmark Society of Western New York maintains this half-acre secret garden, which once belonged to renowned horticulturist George Ellwanger. Now functioning as a bed-and-breakfast, the estate opens its garden to the public during special events such as Lilac Weekends in May and Peony Weekend in June.

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Ellwanger Garden

Maintained by the Landmark Society, the Ellwanger Estate Garden is periodically open to the public for special events.

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Drive

Honeoye Lake Inlet
Honeoye Lake Inlet

34. Honeoye Lake Inlet

You can take a scenic drive around the entire lake in just 30 minutes and enjoy stunning views from Harriet Hollister and the rolling hills below.

Nations Road
Nations Road

35. Nations Road

Nations Road is a favorite among photographers due to its scenic Genesee Valley view, abundance of oak trees, and fields with horses, making it a perfect drive throughout the year.

It’s also where you’ll find the Genesee Valley Hunt Races in October.

These trees are even featured in the painting “Genesee Oaks” by Asher B. Durand—an American painter of the Hudson River School—which hangs in Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. The MAG website states that he was “commissioned to paint this magnificent vista overlooking the Genesee River Valley in Geneseo, New York, by a member of the Wadsworth family, the village founders. At one time, they owned all the land from Geneseo to Rochester.”

Oak trees are so prevalent around Geneseo that the APOG and Genesee Valley Conservancy have designed a self-guided scenic oak tree driving tour.

Marengo Marsh
Marengo Marsh

36. Marengo Marsh

Take a drive along River Road in Lyons, following the Clyde River, to enjoy this lush green space. According to the DEC website, “the primary purposes of Galen Wildlife Management Area are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation.”

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Gardens & Arboretums

These carefully designed gardens, often cultivated for decades or even centuries, display exceptional collections of flowers and trees.

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Land That I Love: Your Guide to Roaming the Earth Around Rochester

Enjoy the beauty and wonders of the world by making the most of the varied memorable experiences offered by our parks, gardens, and farms.

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22 Fabulous Fall Hikes in Monroe County

Our favorite fall hikes offer a variety of elements and views. The presence of water, trees, and solitude helps rank these high on our list.

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18 Wonderful Winter Walks in Monroe County

These winter walks in Rochester and Monroe County will inspire you to time outside, breathing in cold, fresh air and soaking up a little sun.

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Where are your favorite green places?

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.

3 thoughts on “36 Places to Immerse Yourself in Green”

  1. The Genesee County Forest is missing from this list 🙂 Lots of green, plenty of trails, nature programming for families, picnic pavilions, playgrounds etc.

  2. Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is beautiful!! Letchworth State Park is beautiful too. Love nature’s trails, waterfalls are gorgeous.

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