Rochesters Hidden Sidewalk

13 Hidden Places Around Rochester

We drive right past some of Rochester’s most unique hidden gems every day, completely unaware of their existence. I continue to meet life-long residents of Rochester who have no idea these hidden places are just minutes away from where they work & live.

Corbetts Glen tunnel entrance

1. Corbett’s Glen

Brighton/Penfield

Corbett’s Glen Nature Park is a hidden green space in a suburban jungle, nestled in between an express way and 2 highly trafficked roads near the Penfield/Brighton Town border. When you visit, you will notice you seem to be walking through people’s back yards. You are, in a sense.

The homeowners are passionate about keeping the glen beautiful and open for everyone’s enjoyment. It may have been a story of the past had it not been for this nature-loving community. Even still, it’s one of the most popular hidden spaces!

30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Rochester Hidden Sidewalk

2. Rochester’s Hidden Sidewalk

City of Rochester

To find it, start at Ontario Beach Park & head west on Beach Ave. Across from Clematis St. & Cloverdale St. are the two main entrances at either end, with several small sidewalks in between.

The beautiful lawns and gardens along the sidewalk are privately owned; only the path is public and maintained by the City.

Turning Point Park winter walk
Turning Point Park

3. Turning Point

City of Rochester 

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. Most folks drive down Lake Ave. never realizing they’re running parallel with this incredible boardwalk.

Turn off Lake Ave onto Boxart St. to access the south end at Turning Point Park, or start at Ontario Beach Park and follow the GRT from the north.

Channing H Philbrick Park

4. Channing H. Philbrick Park

Penfield

Irondequoit Creek passes through 3 Monroe County Parks, from its origin just outside Powder Mills Park, then through Ellison Park and Lucien Morin Park on its way to Irondequoit Bay. Along the way it picks up more water from tributaries like Thomas Creek, Mill Creek, and Allen’s Creek.

As Irondequoit Creek passes through Channing H Philbrick Park, it drops 90 feet over one mile giving us the cascades that make this park so special.

Warner Castle Sunken Garden looking in

5. Warner Castle Sunken Garden

City of Rochester 

When you stroll behind Warner Castle and down the grassy lawn, you’ll discover the Sunken Garden. The garden is a small part of Highland Park, yet folks don’t realize it’s here because it’s located on Reservoir Ave across South Ave toward Mount Hope Cemetery.

Take a walk behind the garden and you’ll find yourself at Highland Bowl.

Washington Grove

6. Washington Grove

City of Rochester

The trail next to Cobb’s Hill takes you by the graffiti-tagged water towers and winds through a quiet grove of ancient oaks. The art is always evolving so every time you go you see something new.

Holley Canal Falls
Holley Canal Falls

7. Holley Canal Falls

Holley

Approaching the Village of Holley on the canal or along Route 31, you would have no idea this beautiful waterfall exists! I actually lived in Holley for several years and had no idea this was here.

The waterfall is fed by runoff from the canal, so it is dry once the canal is drained for the winter.

From the village square, drive past the Murray-Holley Depot and down Holley Falls Park Road where you’ll be able to see the waterfall from the parking loop at the end.

Enjoy a picnic in the park, or walk the various trails around and up to the canal, where there is a beautiful canal-side park and one of the canal’s 20 lift bridges.

Pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River connecting Seneca Park and Maplewood Park
Pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River connecting Seneca Park and Maplewood Park

8. Pedestrian Bridge over the Genesee River

City of Rochester

Seneca Park’s Olmsted South trail ends at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River and connects Seneca to Maplewood, its sister Olmsted-designed park. The bridge is part of the Genesee Riverway Trail system.

You can access the bridge using stairs or ramps on both sides of the Genesee.

30 Day Trips within 30 Minutes of Rochester: Old Canal Lock 62
Old Canal Lock 62 behind Pittsford Plaza

9. Old Canal Lock 62 behind Pittsford Plaza

Pittsford

Old Erie Canal Lock 62 is tucked just far enough off the beaten path that many do not realize it’s there.

Next time you are in Pittsford Plaza, take a look for it right behind Applebees. It is one of the best preserved antiquated locks along the canal system.

Grimes Glen second fall

10. Grimes Glen

Naples

Grimes Glen is about an hour south of Rochester, but I find it worth mentioning because so many people have no idea it’s there! It’s off N. Main St./County Route 21, up a seemingly normal side street (Vine St.) You’ve probably been to the Naples Fest and have driven right past it.

I have even heard from people who have lived in Naples that had no idea a glen of this incredible beauty was right there.

The great thing about Grimes Glen is that the walk in and the trail along the glen is flat, though a bit muddy after a lot of rain. There comes a point (about 1/2 mile in) at which you have to decide whether you want to walk in the water to check out the two 60-foot waterfalls just around the bend.

Go for it! It’s worth it. It’s one of our favorite hidden places!

Helmer Nature Center
Helmer Nature Center

11. Helmer Nature Center

Irondequoit

It’s hard to believe a nature center in the middle of a suburb could be considered hidden, but I’ve met residents of Irondequoit who don’t realize how extraordinary it is. They may know it’s there because they pass a sign for it along their commute, but have not visited and that gives it hidden potential.

When you walk down the trails into the ravine, you are sheltered from the noise of St. Paul Blvd. It is a peaceful, enclosed environment full of nature, similar to Corbett’s Glen and Channing H. Philbrick in that respect.

Bergen Swamp
Bergen Swamp

12. Bergen Swamp

Byron-Bergen

Bergen Swamp is the first private environmental land trust in the United States chartered as a New York State living museum, and a National Natural Landmark with rich graminoid fens, cedar swamps, and riparian flood plains. It is a wetland sanctuary to 36 native Orchids.

There used to be several trailheads but visitors are now encouraged to use the main trail. Get directions

The Bergen Swamp Preservation Society is an educational institution whose purpose is to conserve the flora and fauna of its Upstate New York properties. It is viewed as a living museum and an outdoor classroom.

Thomas Creek wetlands
Thomas Creek wetland walk

13. Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk

Fairport

Most folks when visiting Fairport walk along the canal path not knowing that the Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk is running parallel to them. 

The Wetland Walk is actually two separate paths. One is paved yet rustic. The other is a boardwalk with a seasonal viewing platform. They both connect to each other and with the Erie Canal Trail.

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Where are your favorite hidden places around Rochester?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

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14 thoughts on “13 Hidden Places Around Rochester”

  1. I would suggest adding the Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk in Fairport. They recently added a butterfly garden and an analemmatic sundial near the Erie Canal Path. The sundial is the interactive kind where your body makes the shadow. Kids and adults love it, the scenery is beautiful, and the atmosphere is peaceful. The sundial was designed and built by local artist, Vanessa Sheldon, and she used stones from nearby lock 58. It’s definitely a hidden gem.

    1. I agree! So many people don’t realize Thomas Creek Wetlands Trail is right there next to the canal. I didn’t know about the new installations…I’ll have to check that out. Thank you, Stacy, for the recommendation!

    1. Thank you, Sharon! I’m of the thought that Mt. Hope Cemetery itself is not a hidden place, BUT within Mt. Hope Cemetery are many hidden places. Would you agree? That would make a good article…hidden places within Mt. Hope Cemetery. I think one of my favorite spots is where Nathaniel Rochester is buried.

    1. How funny that you and JM both suggested Holley Falls. And you are both so right! I lived in Holley for 2 years when my daughter was first born and had no idea it was even there, although we were outside the village. It’s perfectly hidden!

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