Seneca Park guided hike cover

22 Monroe County Parks

Monroe County parks are free and offer 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical, and geological experiences.

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Mendon Ponds
Mendon Ponds Park

1. Mendon Ponds Park

Explore 21 miles of marked trails across 2,500 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and glacially created landforms like kettles, kames, eskers, and bogs. Named for its four most significant ponds—Hundred Acre, Round, Quaker, and Deep Ponds—one of the park’s unique bodies of water is Devil’s Bathtub, a rare meromictic lake with a depth of about 47 feet at its deepest point. Be sure to check out Wild Wings Inc.’s bird of prey facility and nature center, and enjoy a walk along the nearby Fairy Birdsong Trail.

Wild Wings Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that manages the Mendon Ponds Park Nature Center and Bird of Prey Facility. They provide short-term and lifelong sanctuary for animals that rely on human care for their survival. Visitors can see small mammals, amphibians, insects, and reptiles in the nature center building. The Bird of Prey Facility next door houses permanently injured raptor and owl species, a raven, a bobcat, and two red foxes. Both facilities are free to explore, and donations and profits from the gift shop go directly toward the care of the animals. This county park’s most popular walk among bird lovers and families is the Birdsong Fairy Trail, near the nature center. With a broad dirt pathway and slight elevation change, this trail provides an easy way to explore a forest full of woodland creatures and is ideal for a multigenerational nature walk. Wandering counterclockwise along the path, search for over 40 colorful fairy homes and play spaces. When food is scarce in winter and early spring, head clockwise on the trail with a handful of black oil sunflower seeds so chickadees, nuthatches, and tufted titmice can eat them directly from your hand. Make time to explore the other trails in the park, including those around the ponds.

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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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Black Creek Park autumn picnic pond
Black Creek Park

2. Black Creek Park

Black Creek is one of the largest of Monroe County’s parks, second only to Mendon. It features a variety of trails with varying lengths, difficulties, and conditions, with some trails muddy throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk around the pond or launch a kayak in the creek. In the winter, the park offers one of the best sledding hills in the county.

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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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Durand Eastman Park boardwalk
Durand Eastman Park

3. Durand Eastman Park

In 1888, landscape architect Bernard H. Slavin designed this county park that covers 977 acres and includes five lakes, the most prominent being Durand and Eastman Lakes. You’ll find a section of pedestrian-only roadway between Log Cabin and Zoo Roads that is perfect for a walk in the arboretum.

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.

Walk across Lakeshore Boulevard to explore the seven-mile Irondequoit Lakeside Multi-Use Trail, a paved sidewalk along 5,000 feet of Lake Ontario shoreline with a portion of wetland boardwalk. At Lot A near Horseshoe Road, you will find the designated swimming area along the 5,000-foot sandy Lake Ontario shoreline.

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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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Northampton Alpine Adventure Zone Natural Playground
Alpine Adventure Zone

4. Northampton Park

While Northampton offers several marked hiking trails, certain features make it unique among the Monroe County parks.

Northampton offers the only Radio-Control Flying Field in the county park system. Even if you don’t have an AMA license, it’s fun to watch.

The park is also home to the Alpine Adventure Zone Natural Playground. The playground is a public space that is free for everyone to enjoy. It is filled with various play equipment such as fallen logs, tunnels, towers, swings, and even a log cabin fort. The playground is located in the eastern part of Northampton Park, near the Ski Lodge.

Speaking of skiing, along with Powder Mills, Northampton partners with Swain Ski Resort to offer downhill skiing and snowboarding instruction, including a lodge and tow rope.

Operated by Heritage Christian Services, Springdale Farm is an agricultural education facility that serves as a day program site for adults with developmental disabilities. Enjoy farm animals, nature trails, a duck pond, and family-oriented activities throughout the warmer months.

Erie Canal Genesee River Genesee Valley Park kayak
Genesee Valley Park

5. Genesee Valley Park

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1888, find GVP where the Erie Canal, Red Creek, and Genesee River intersect. Visitors can rent kayaks and canoes from the Genesee Waterways Center. Enjoy the four beautiful concrete footbridges that connect the park across each waterway. When Olmsted originally designed the landscape, the Erie Canal ran through Rochester over an aqueduct—now the Broad Street Bridge. In 1918, the state changed the canal route to follow the city’s southern border through Genesee Valley Park, leading to the addition of the bridges.

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Genesee Valley Park

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1888, find Genesee Valley Park where the Erie Canal, Red Creek, and Genesee River intersect.

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Monroe County Parks: Kayaking Black Creek Churchville
Churchville Park

6. Churchville Park

Churchville Park, one of three Monroe County Parks, is spread across 742 acres and offers a variety of recreational activities. It features a golf course, a disc golf course, soccer fields, tennis/pickleball courts, playgrounds, and an outdoor ice skating rink. There are five lodges and five shelters in the park that can be rented for events. Churchville Park offers a boat launch specifically for non-motorized boats, which provides access to Black Creek.

Greece Canal Park boat launch
Greece Canal Park

7. Greece Canal Park

Greece Canal Park is a large 577-acre park located along the Erie Canal in Monroe County. It offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages. You can enjoy hiking on any of the four easy/level trails, bird watching, or cross-country skiing. The park offers various sports facilities, such as a softball diamond, soccer field, and tennis/pickleball courts. Kids can have fun at the playgrounds, and there’s a youth camping area too. One of the highlights of the park is its off-leash dog park. There are two playgrounds in the park—one next to the Millennium Lodge and the other between the Rotary Lodge and the Towpath Shelter.

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Greece Canal Park

Greece Canal Park encompasses 577 acres, with 4 easy walking trails varying in length under 1.5 miles over level or gently rolling terrain.

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Webster Park Lake Ontario Pier
Webster Park Pier

8. Webster Park

Webster Park, located along the shore of Lake Ontario, is a 550-acre Monroe County Park that offers breathtaking views of the lake. You can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Ontario from the top of the bluff near Whitehouse Lodge or the pier. Both locations provide an optimal spot to watch the sunset. The park features hiking trails that wind through the forest and along the shoreline, making it a perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts.

You can fish at the fishing pier, play tennis or pickleball on the courts, or stay at the trailer/tent campground. If you’re a dog owner, Webster Park is a great place to take your furry friend. Monroe County opened its third dog park at Webster Park in October 2023.

Be sure to check out the trails maintained by the Friends of Webster Trails.

Oatka Creek Park May grass pathway
Oatka Creek Park

9. 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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Ellison Park creek trail
Ellison Park

10. Ellison Park

Established in 1926, Ellison is the first official Monroe County Park. It features five blazed trails of varying difficulty, making it an excellent spot for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is also a popular spot to launch a kayak or canoe and paddle downstream on Irondequoit Creek toward Irondequoit Bay. A log blockhouse replica can be found near North Landing Road, marking the presumed site of Fort Schuyler, a 1721 colonial fur trading post. Historical markers provide information about Indian Landing, a portage route used by the Haudenosaunee (“People of the Longhouse”) to avoid the Genesee River’s waterfalls.

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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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Powder Mills Park Daffodil Meadow Trail
Powder Mills Park

11. Powder Mills Park

Follow the marked trails to take a stroll through Irondequoit Creek’s wetlands, meadows, and woodlands. Bring a handful of quarters to the fish hatchery to purchase food pellets to feed up to 20,000 fish at different stages of development. In partnership with Swain Ski Resort, Powder Mills has a gradual ski slope accessed by a single rope tow, an on-site lodge, rental equipment, and experienced ski and snowboard instructors. Don’t miss the fascinating Mushroom House next to the hatchery parking lot. 

Visit the Daffodil Meadow from late April through mid-May to see the flowers in full bloom. Park along Thornell Drive to access the 0.2-mile hard-packed gravel pathway, or take the moderately challenging 0.7-mile dirt trail along Irondequoit Creek to reach the meadow from Powder Mills Park.

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Powder Mills Park

Powder Mills Park favorites include the fish hatchery, Daffodil Meadow Trail in early May, The Mushroom House, and fishing Irondequoit Creek.

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Monroe County Parks Lucien Moren
Lucien Moren Park

12. Lucien Morin Park

Irondequoit Creek flows northward to Irondequoit Bay through Lucien Morin’s wetlands. The park is ideal for kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching. Enjoy a flat walk from the 10-car parking lot to the lodge or hike more challenging trails traversing the woodland cliffs.

Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park

13. Seneca Park

The 20-acre Seneca Park Zoo is a small portion of the 300-acre county park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893. The zoo operates a seasonal ZooTram shuttle, transporting visitors between the extreme ends of the park for a nominal one-way fee. Many people walk through the zoo and take the tram to the main entrance, appreciating Seneca Park’s scenic views. Beyond the zoo, you will find a trout pond surrounded by pavilions, a playground, and hiking trails. The north trail leads toward Lake Ontario over a tiny but steep waterfall, with several risky descents to the river’s edge using deteriorating wood steps. The south trail ends at the scenic Pure Waters Pedestrian Bridge, part of the Genesee River Trail, which spans the river to connect with Maplewood Park.

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Seneca Park and Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is only a small part of the 297-acre Seneca Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893.

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Highland Park late May Azaleas
Highland Park

14. Highland Park

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. Many of the trees are the tallest of their species in the state, though few are native. Highland has even been described as a museum or zoo of exotic plants and trees. Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University sent the original specimens to Rochester for simultaneous scientific study. Meander along paved and mown-grass pathways to Lamberton Conservatory, Poet’s Garden, Highland Bowl, and Warner Castle’s Sunken Garden.

Highland Park’s Lamberton Conservatory. Take a break and unwind in the Lord and Burnham–designed glasshouse filled with exotic, desert, and economic plants, including banana trees. Find turtles lounging by indoor ponds, with tiny button quail and tortoises wandering around. The theme of the Seasonal Display Room changes five times throughout the year, with the beloved Holiday Show in December. The conservatory is open on Friday and Sunday evenings to fully appreciate the beautiful festive lights.

Highland Park’s Warner Castle Estate and Sunken Garden. In 1951, Monroe County Parks purchased the castle and grounds as an extension of Highland Park. The 1854 Gothic-style castle is now the headquarters for the Landmark Society of Western New York. In 1930, landscape architect Alling S. DeForest, who also designed the Eastman estate’s gardens, added the sunken garden to the property. Photographers often capture wedding and family photos in the garden, but it can be a peaceful retreat if you visit when it’s not crowded.

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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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Beikirch Park Veterans Memorial
Beikirch Park Veterans Memorial

15. Beikirch Park

In 2021, in recognition of Vietnam Veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch, the memorial section of Highland Park was designated as Beikirch Park. The park stands as a reminder to those lost and those who served to help create better lives for us all.

The memorials within Beikerk Park include the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, AIDS Memorial, Victims Rights Memorial, Workers Rights Memorial, and War on Terror Memorial.

Beikirch is not 15th in size but is truly part of greater Highland Park, and I felt it best to keep them together.

Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Rochester Junction
Lehigh Valley Rail Trail

16. Lehigh Valley Rail Trail

This 15-mile linear park connects Mendon with Scottsville. There are multiple trailheads where you can explore smaller sections of the trail, including Rochester Junction. You’ll find evidence of Rochester’s railroad history, including a historic depot where the Lehigh Valley Railroad branched west toward Rush and north toward Rochester. Walking east along the trail from the parking area, you’ll connect with Great Bend Park. Walking west, you’ll cross a bridge spanning Honeoye Creek. The rail trail interacts with the creek at several points before reaching the bridge crossing the Genesee River, connecting to the Genesee Greenway Trail at Wadsworth Junction.

Monroe County Park Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln Park

17. Abraham Lincoln Park

In 2009, the county renamed Irondequoit Bay Park East in honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday anniversary. The park features a log cabin replica, playground, and nature play zone. The white trail, a three-mile out-and-back route offering views of Irondequoit Bay, traverses steep ravines to connect with the other color-marked trails.

Monroe County Parks - Irondequoit Bay Park West
Irondequoit Bay Park West

18. Irondequoit Bay Park West

Irondequoit Bay Park West is a natural park located in the Town of Irondequoit. It offers over 147 acres of hiking trails and access to the bay for fishing. The park is undeveloped but has a small boat launch for car-top boats. It boasts approximately 2,000 feet of water frontage along Irondequoit Bay. The park is situated on the southwestern shoreline of Irondequoit Bay, to the north of Empire Boulevard, and to the east of 590.

19. Tryon Park

Tryon Park spans 82 acres of undeveloped land on Irondequoit Creek’s western shore. The park features hiking trails and picturesque views, including multi-use trails for both hiking and off-road cycling.

Ontario Beach Park June sandy beach
Ontario Beach Park

20. Ontario Beach Park

At the northernmost tip of the city, the Genesee River borders the park to the east. Visitors can stroll on the boardwalk and pier, indulge in the original 1902 Abbott’s Frozen Custard, ride on the 1905 Dentzel Carousel, and tour the 1822 Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse.

Head to the sandy beach on Lake Ontario for a refreshing swim. Look for the blue accessibility mat near the bathhouse, which provides a smooth path from the boardwalk to the water’s edge.

To access the secret half-mile-long Hidden Sidewalk, start at Ontario Beach Park in Charlotte and walk west along Beach Avenue. You will find the main entrances across from Clematis and Cloverdale Streets, with smaller entrances between roughly every fourth house. Note that the lawns, gardens, and docks along the sidewalk are privately owned and not open to the public. Only the sidewalk itself is available for public use.

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Ontario Beach Park

Besides a sandy Lake Ontario beach with plenty of parking, enjoy the boardwalk, carousel, pier, and an original 1902 Abbott’s Frozen Custard.

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Seneca Park Zoo polar bear standing
Seneca Park Zoo

21. Seneca Park Zoo

Although the 20-acre Zoo is part of the greater Seneca Park, it’s worth noting that Monroe County Parks lists it separately as the 22nd park. It’s also important to note that this is the only Monroe County Park with an admission fee.

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Seneca Park and Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is only a small part of the 297-acre Seneca Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893.

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22. Devil’s Cove Park

Devil’s Cove Park, located on Irondequoit Bay, is the smallest Monroe County park. It covers an area of 18 acres and has been recognized as a top priority for conservation efforts by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. As a result, the park will be kept in its natural and undeveloped state.

23. New Park Name and Opening Date TBA

The new park will be primarily wooded, surrounded by E. Henrietta Road to the east, Pinnacle Road to the west, Ward Hill Road to the north, and Jeffords Road to the south.

In the satellite view of the area above, I added a pink box where I suspect the new park will be located. This is not official, just a guess based on the hints provided: primarily wooded, access to the Lehigh Valley Trail.

March 13, 2023 – “Monroe County is set to acquire a new park in the town of Henrietta, covering more than 70 acres and featuring access to the Lehigh Valley Trail. It contains some low-lying wetland and marsh areas and has an established network of trails, according to an announcement released on Friday.

“To finalize the acquisition, the town of Henrietta will complete an Environmental Quality Review and subdivide the property before formally signing it over to the county.”

Northampton Parks Radio Control flying field
Northampton Radio Control flying field

Monroe County Parks: By the Numbers
From their website

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50 New York State Parks Within a Two-Hour Drive of Rochester

Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a two-hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them unique.

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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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26 Easy Winter Walks Around Rochester

Each destination offers a unique perspective of the Rochester area’s natural beauty, from snow-covered parks to picturesque waterfronts.

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Exploring The Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the river merges with the Erie Canal and continues north through Rochester before reaching Lake Ontario.

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132 Things to Do Around Rochester

We’ve pulled together a list of fun and unique things to do around Rochester, NY, within two hours of home—perfect for quick getaways.

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24 Hidden Places Around Rochester

From secret gardens to enchanting waterfalls, exploring hidden places around the Rochester area is the ultimate way to add some spice to your travel experiences.

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80+ Hiking Trails Around Rochester

Less traveled than in our parks, these hiking trails around Rochester offer a secluded and rustic area to immerse yourself in nature.

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Water Trails: Over 50 Places to Explore Rochester’s Waterways

Paddle your way to peace and quiet along Rochester’s water trails. Use these launches for canoes, kayaks, and small motorized watercraft.

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Transcending Places

Instead of being an escape, I see these places as opportunities that encourage us to transcend space, time, and our state of mind.

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Seneca Park guided hike cover
Seneca Park

Which are your favorite Monroe County Parks?

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.

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