High Falls Rochester Genesee autumn cover

Roc the Riverway Weekend: October 6–8, 2023

Enjoy Roc the Riverway Weekend with activities highlighting the beauty, history, and significance of Rochester’s majestic Genesee River.

From the graceful glide of rowing teams competing in the Head of the Genesee Regatta to the insightful tours of the historic High Falls/Brown’s Race district, every event is a testament to Rochester’s intimate relationship with the river.

For the adventurous, there are guided bike rides and paddling excursions; for those looking to relax, scenic cruises provide a serene backdrop for tales of yesteryears.

And for families? Many activities, including birding boat cruises, lighthouse tours, and park celebrations, ensure something for everyone.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or just looking for an early-fall weekend experience, Roc the Riverway offers a splash of excitement and a river of memories.

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

Friday, October 6

Riverie nearing Lock 33
Riverie nearing Lock 33

Genesee River to Canal Lock 33 Boat Cruise

2:30–5 p.m.
Corn Hill Landing

Join Corn Hill Navigation for a two-and-a-half-hour round-trip cruise between Corn Hill Landing on the Genesee River to Lock 33 on the Erie Canal. While aboard The Riverie, you will learn about the historical significance of the Genesee River, the Erie Canal, and how a lock works with live-guided narration. Relax and experience the natural beauty of our waterways.

Get directions to the Corn Hill Landing Waterfront Center

The Riverie Rochester skyline
The Riverie

Genesee River and Erie Canal Boat Cruise

5:30–7 p.m.
Corn Hill Landing

Join Corn Hill Navigation onboard The Riverie for a scenic 90-minute roundtrip cruise on the Genesee River from Corn Hill Landing to Genesee Valley Park. During the cruise, enjoy live, guided narration that shares fascinating stories about how the river and canal made Rochester the “Young Lion of the West” while pointing out significant sites along the way. Returning to port, you’ll get a breathtaking view of downtown Rochester, making it a cruise highlight.

Get directions to the Corn Hill Landing Waterfront Center

Saturday, October 7

Genesee Valley Park Regatta

Head of the Genesee Regatta

8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Genesee Valley Park

The regatta is part of the Roc the Riverway Weekend series of activities promoting our great city as a venue for rowing. It is one of the largest regattas in New York State west of the Hudson River, hosting over 50 organizations annually. Viewing is along the footbridge over the Genesee River and the east river bank, under the 390 flyover bridge accessed from Genesee Valley Park, and at the Genesee Waterways Center.

Seth Green Park Clean-Up

9–11 a.m.
Seth Green Park

Get outside, get active, and get involved in making Rochester a greener, cleaner City! The City of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Human Services is collaborating with the Seneca Park Zoo Society to sponsor a series of park clean-up events along the Genesee Riverway Trail. Tools and gloves will be provided. Please dress for the weather and bring water to stay hydrated.

Get directions to the Seth Green parking lot

lake sturgeon stencil
Lake Sturgeon stencil

Sturgeon Release

10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Seth Green Park

Join the United States Geological Survey for a Sturgeon release at Seth Green Park by Lower Falls. Learn about the nearly 20 years of successful sturgeon reintroduction, spray paint stenciled sturgeon awareness signage in multiple languages, and be joined by “Seth,” our six-foot fiberglass sturgeon mascot, observe staff measure weight, length, girth, and tag data. Attendees may participate in releasing hatchery-reared sturgeon into the lower Genesee River.

Get directions to the Seth Green parking lot

High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River terrace
High Falls Terrace

Genesee River Bike Ride with Reconnect Rochester

10 a.m.–12 p.m.
High Falls Terrace

Experience all the progress on ROC the Riverway projects up close and on two wheels. Meet Reconnect Rochester on the High Falls Terrace and travel roughly 12 miles along the Genesee Riverway Trail and by street to explore the recent and future enhancements to the riverfront. Intermediate skill level as we will be biking in traffic. Registration is not required, but helmets are.

Get Directions to High Falls Terrace

Maplewood Park Lower Falls Gorge tour
Lower Falls guided walk

Lower Falls and Gorge Guided Walks

10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Maplewood Rose Garden

Join Maplewood Neighborhood Association docents on a guided walk to learn about the five bridges over the gorge, the rivalry between Carthage and Rochester, and the river’s transformation from a place of industry to recreation. Tours are 45 minutes long; the last tour departs around 3 p.m. Meet in the Maplewood Rose Garden parking lot.

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Maplewood Park & Rose Garden

Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls to just north of Route 104, ending at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee.

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Genesee River
Genesee River

Birding Boat Cruise

10–11:30 a.m.
Corn Hill Landing

Join local birding expert Randi Minetor and the Corn Hill Navigation crew onboard The Riverie for a unique cruise suitable for experienced, novice, and curious birders alike. You’ll get to see and hear the variety of birds that call the Genesee River near downtown Rochester their home. Remember to bring binoculars if you have them, but if you don’t, some will be available to borrow.

Get directions to the Corn Hill Landing Waterfront Center

Mount Hope Cemetery now I know something you dont

Mount Hope Cemetery Guided Walk

11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Mount Hope Cemetery: Undertakers, Wakes, & Tears: Mourning Rituals in 19th Century America

Learn about the Victorians’ complex relationship with death and the socially accepted but somewhat curious rituals and customs used to express their grief with Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery.

Get directions to the North Gatehouse at 791 Mount Hope Ave; opposite Robinson Drive

Explore More

Mount Hope Cemetery

Mount Hope Cemetery’s winding roads are best explored on foot for a glimpse into the area’s rich history, ecology, and geology.

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High Falls observation deck

High Falls Terrace Celebration

12–3 p.m.
High Falls Terrace

I’ll have books available to purchase from 12–2 p.m., but I’m happy to sign your copy if you already have one. Or stop by and say hi!

Bring the whole family to the newly renovated High Falls Terrace Park and adjoining riverfront for a fun-filled celebration of the revitalization of Rochester’s Genesee River Corridor and the impending High Falls State Park! Enjoy spectacular views of Rochester’s High Falls while listening to the Story of Sam Patch by master storyteller Nate DiMeo.

The celebration will include musical entertainment, activities and games for kids, food and beverages at the Genesee Brew House Beer Garden, public input sessions for the State Park, displays from community groups, self-guided audio tours, and guided bike tours. Parking is available along adjacent streets.

Get Directions to High Falls Terrace

Riverie nearing Lock 33
Riverie nearing Lock 33

Genesee River to Canal Lock 33 Boat Cruise

12:30–3 p.m.
Corn Hill Landing

Join Corn Hill Navigation onboard The Riverie for a scenic two-and-a-half-hour roundtrip cruise from Corn Hill Landing on the Genesee River to Lock 33 on the Erie Canal. During the cruise, enjoy live, guided narration about the historical significance of the Genesee River, the Erie Canal, and how a lock works. Relax and experience the natural beauty of our waterways.

Get directions to the Corn Hill Landing Waterfront Center

High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River business center
High Falls

Historic High Falls Guided Walk

1–2 p.m.
Historic High Falls

Join Dan Cody for a one-mile walking tour of the historic High Falls/Brown’s Race district. Explore one of the city’s oldest areas and learn how early settlers harnessed the power of the mighty Genesee River to run the mills and factories that created The Flour City and put Rochester on the map as an American boomtown—presented by the Rochester Public Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division. Registration is required for this free event.

Get directions to meet at the corner of State and Commercial Streets

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High Falls on the Genesee River

High Falls is the name of the waterfall, the neighboring historic district, and the future Rochester High Falls State Park.

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Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse
Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Lighthouse Tours

1–5 p.m.
Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Established in 1822, tour the oldest surviving aid to navigation lighthouse on Lake Ontario. Climb the octagonal tower to see the new fourth-order Fresnel lens and a fantastic panorama view of Lake Ontario and the Genesee River.

In the Keeper’s House, learn about the history of our region’s lighthouses and Ontario Beach Park between 1870 and 1930. Enjoy several new displays featuring the 1905 Dentzel Carousel, the 1916 annexation of Charlotte, Charlotte High School, the Port of Rochester, and life along the Genesee.

Outside the lighthouse, walk through the War of 1812 International Peace Garden. Admission is $5.00 (18 years & older), $2.00 (5-17 years old), and FREE (4 and under.)

Get directions to Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

High Falls Ecoloop Guided Bike Ride with Tour Blend

2 p.m.
High Falls Terrace

Join Tour Blend for a two-mile guided bike ride. The High Falls Ecoloop takes you from High Falls Terrace Park around the Genesee River Gorge to view the top and bottom of High Falls from two different bridges spanning the Genesee River. Explore some sites of Rochester’s early industrial development, including Brown’s Race and Rochester Marshmallow Works, the first company in America to make and distribute marshmallows. Helmets are required.

Get Directions to High Falls Terrace

Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Waterways Center

Guided Paddle to Corn Hill

3–6 p.m.
Genesee Waterways Center

Join Genesee RiverWatch and the Genesee Waterways Center in celebrating ROC the Riverway Weekend with an educational paddle along the Genesee River to Corn Hill. This all-level paddle offers participants incredible views of our city skyline and opportunities to see the Genesee river-front development projects from the water. An adult must accompany all children under 18. No prior experience is necessary—pre-registration is required. Call 328-3960 or register online.

Get directions to Genesee Waterways Center

The Riverie Rochester skyline
The Riverie

Genesee River and Erie Canal Boat Cruise

3:30–5 p.m.
Corn Hill Landing

Join Corn Hill Navigation onboard The Riverie for a scenic 90-minute roundtrip cruise on the Genesee River from Corn Hill Landing to Genesee Valley Park. During the cruise, enjoy live, guided narration that shares fascinating stories about how the river and canal made Rochester the “Young Lion of the West” while pointing out significant sites along the way. Returning to port, you’ll get a breathtaking view of downtown Rochester, making it a cruise highlight.

Get directions to the Corn Hill Landing Waterfront Center

Sunday, October 8

Roc the Riverway Autumn at Ontario Beach Park
Ontario Beach Park

Autumn at the Lake

11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Ontario Beach Park

Savor the beauty of Lake Ontario and the Port of Rochester in the fall. Take a horse-drawn wagon ride through Ontario Beach Park, decorate pumpkins (fee), ride the carousel, and purchase freshly made donuts, cider, and other treats. Have fun with face painting and balloon art by the Grease Paint Alley Clowns, and enjoy musical entertainment by Dave Turner.

This event will also feature a guided historical walking tour, starting at the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse. The walk includes a tour of the lighthouse, Charlotte Cemetery, River Street, a talk on the reintroduction of sturgeon in the Rochester Basin, and more.

Get directions to Ontario Beach Park

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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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Staybridge Suites Rochester University
Staybridge Suites Rochester University

Genesee River to Canal Lock 33 Cruise Boat Cruise

12:30–3 p.m.
Staybridge Suites

Join Corn Hill Navigation onboard The Riverie for a scenic two-and-a-half-hour roundtrip cruise from Staybridge Suites on the Genesee River to Lock 33 on the Erie Canal. During the cruise, enjoy live, guided narration about the historical significance of the Genesee River, the Erie Canal, and how a lock works. Relax and experience the natural beauty of our waterways.

Get directions to Staybridge Suites

Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse Rochester NY
Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, 1822

Lighthouse Tours

1–5 p.m.
Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Established in 1822, tour the oldest surviving aid to navigation lighthouse on Lake Ontario. Climb the octagonal tower to see the new fourth-order Fresnel lens and a fantastic panorama view of Lake Ontario and the Genesee River.

In the Keeper’s House, learn about the history of our region’s lighthouses and Ontario Beach Park between 1870 and 1930. Enjoy several new displays featuring the 1905 Dentzel Carousel, the 1916 annexation of Charlotte, Charlotte High School, the Port of Rochester, and life along the Genesee.

Outside the lighthouse, walk through the War of 1812 International Peace Garden. Admission is $5.00 (18 years & older), $2.00 (5-17 years old), and FREE (4 and under.)

Get directions to Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

Corn Hill hit the trail passport
Wegmans Hit the Trail Passport

Historic Corn Hill Guided Walk

2–3 p.m.
The Old Third Ward and the Impact of the Genesee River, from Rattlesnake Hill to Today’s Urban Community

Take a guided walking tour through the Historic Corn Hill neighborhood and learn about the importance of the Genesee River to the community’s history and development. Using the Wegmans Passport to Wellness Trail as the route, you will hear past and present tales of the Underground Railroad, memories of the Clarissa Street Community, clairvoyants and the lore surrounding them, and many more. The event is free and appropriate for the entire family.

Get directions to the Water Spirit sculpture on Exchange Boulevard at South Plymouth.

Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery Tour

Mount Hope Cemetery Guided Walk

2–3:30 p.m.
Mount Hope Cemetery Foundational Tour

Enjoy a 90-minute, one-mile walking tour that covers various local history topics, horticulture, geology, architecture, and monument symbolism. During this time, we will visit the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Please wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking on uneven terrain and paved roads. The tickets are $12 per person at the door but are free for members, SNAP recipients, and children under 16 who a paying adult accompanies.

Get directions to the North Gatehouse at 791 Mount Hope Ave; opposite Robinson Drive

Staybridge Suites Rochester University

Genesee River and Erie Canal Boat Cruise

3:30–5 p.m.
Staybridge Suites

Join Corn Hill Navigation onboard The Riverie for a scenic 90-minute roundtrip cruise on the Genesee River from Staybridge Suites to Genesee Valley Park. During the cruise, enjoy live, guided narration that shares fascinating stories about how the river and canal made Rochester the “Young Lion of the West” while pointing out significant sites along the way. Returning to port, you’ll get a breathtaking view of downtown Rochester, making it a cruise highlight.

Get directions to Staybridge Suites

Friday–Sunday

University of Rochester Hopeman Memorial Carillon
The University of Rochester, Hopeman Memorial Carillon

Hopeman Carillon’s 50th Anniversary

University of Rochester
Eastman Quadrangle

Bring a chair and a picnic!

Hopeman Carillon is one of seven carillons in New York State. The instrument is a set of 50 touch-sensitive bells played from a baton and pedal keyboard in a chromatic sequence. The bells hang above the crown of Rush Rhees Library, between the top columns of the bell lantern.  

As part of the University of Rochester’s Meliora weekend celebration, current and past University of Rochester carillon players, chime players, and national and international guests will gather this October for a weekend of concerts and discussions, all of which are open to the public.

Parking in the library lot at 755 Library Rd is free on weekends plus weekday evenings after 7 p.m.

Carillon Concert Schedule:

Friday, October 6, 5–6 p.m.
Song Of The Bell

Saturday, October 7, 12:30–1:30 p.m.
50th Anniversary Concert of the Hopeman Memorial Carillon

Sunday, October 8, 5–6 p.m
Two Triptychs

Hopeman Carillon 50th Anniversary Booklet

Meliora Weekend at a glance

Lower Falls
Lower Falls

Fall Salmon Run

6 a.m.–7 p.m.
Seth Green Park

Fishing is allowed daily until November from the NY-104 bridge upstream to the lower falls from one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset. This section of the Genesee River, including Seth Green Park, offers some of the most exciting fishing in New York State. 

Get directions to the Seth Green parking lot.

High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River museum
High Falls Historic District

Self-Guided Mobile Tours

Tour Blend

The Genesee River Alliance and Tour Blend have created many free audio-guided mobile tours along the Genesee River Trail. You can enjoy these walking and biking tours any time using your smartphone. Start by downloading the free Tour Blend app.

High Falls Ecoloop Reimagined Tour: While the Pont de Rennes pedestrian bridge at High Falls is undergoing an upgrade, use the newly updated High Falls Ecoloop tour to walk or bike between High Falls Terrace Park and the High Falls Historic District. Follow the map; you will hear geo-located audio stories at 22 locations along the route. The tour features stories describing Rochester’s early industrial development, including Brown’s Race and Rochester Marshmallow Works, the first company in America to make and distribute marshmallows. See plans for the High Falls State Park in the Genesee River Gorge below you as you stand on the Smith Street Bridge. Hear about recycling in Rochester more than a century ago, and learn about the importance of biodiversity and pollinators today.

guided walk Genesee River Alliance gateway

From the City’s Roc the Riverway Weekend webpage:

Roc the Riverway Weekend celebrates the Genesee River and the ambitious initiative to transform the river corridor that began in 2018. From the farms lining its banks along the Genesee Valley to its industrial heritage, the mighty Genesee is at the heart of who we are and how our community developed.

Roc the Riverway is a series of projects that will transform this former industrial waterway into a community recreational corridor that provides opportunities for all to interact with water. Celebrate this transformation with us! Come out, experience a weekend of activities, and learn more about our community’s vision for the future.

This year’s Roc the Riverway Weekend will feature activities up and down the Genesee River from Lake Ontario to Genesee Valley Park. Hikes, bike rides, paddles, tours, and more are all focused on introducing folks to the beauty and history of our city and its waterways. The weekend will also highlight progress on the myriad of Roc the Riverway capital improvements and the efforts toward establishing a new state park at High Falls.

To learn more about the Roc the Riverway program and its many transformational projects along the Genesee River, visit this page

You may also enjoy:

🍎 Apple Everything! Rochester’s best ciders, fry cakes, fritters, pies, and more

Come mid-September, we begin to crave all things apple. Apple cider. Apple cider donuts. Apple fritters. Apple pie. And warm fry cakes.

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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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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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🍁 Fall Foliage: 7 Breathtaking Views Near Rochester

If you’re looking for picturesque autumn scenery, these locations offer stunning fall foliage and unique landscapes.

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Autumn in Rochester

Scenic train rides, leaf-peeping, bird migrations, and ghost walks happen only in autumn in Rochester—take advantage of them while you can!

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Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history will remind you just how amazing our corner of the Earth is.

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Mount Hope Cemetery

Mount Hope Cemetery’s winding roads are best explored on foot for a glimpse into the area’s rich history, ecology, and geology.

Read more

Rochester’s Olmsted-Designed Parks

Rochester is fortunate to be one of a handful of American cities with a park system comprised of Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks.

Read more

Maplewood Park & Rose Garden

Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls to just north of Route 104, ending at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee.

Read more

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.

Read more

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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🎃 Pumpkin Patches & Farms Around Rochester

Experience the perfect autumn day at our Rochester-area pumpkin farms with wagon rides, fresh apple cider and donuts, and corn mazes.

Read more

What are your favorite activities during Roc the Riverway Weekend?

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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