Knox Farm State Park barns cover

Rochester-Area Parks

These exceptional parks do not fall in with the gorge trails, waterfalls, nature centers, gardens, and swimming holes mentioned elsewhere on this website. Instead, they offer unique experiences and amenities worthy of exploration.

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

City of Rochester

Cobbs Hill October
Cobbs Hill

Cobb’s Hill Park

Nestled between Culver Road, Monroe Avenue, and Highland Avenue, lower Cobb’s Hill Park is primarily recreational, but the hill makes it unique. Encircling a reservoir is a paved 0.7-mile walking path offering a panoramic view of the Rochester skyline. A trail through Washington Grove leads visitors through a tranquil urban forest of old oak trees to a series of ever-changing graffiti-tagged water towers. 80 Culver Road

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Cobbs Hill + Washington Grove

The peaceful view from Cobbs Hill, along with the friendly people walking and taking it all in, make it a unique Rochester experience.

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Martin Luther King Jr Park mural
Martin Luther King Jr Park

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at Manhattan Square

Next to The Strong National Museum of Play, this five-acre park hosts a variety of events throughout the year, with the most popular being the Rochester International Jazz Festival in June, Party in the Park on Thursday nights during the summer, Rochester Fringe Festival in September, and Roc Holiday Village in December. In winter, the reflecting pool transforms into an ice-skating rink. The park’s most notable feature is its 2,000-person sunken concrete amphitheater, designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin in 1972. After undergoing extensive rehabilitation in 2017, the fountains were restored and now feature renewed public art and a partial quote by Dr King: “…Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” 353 Court Street

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at Manhattan Square

Next to The Strong National Museum of Play, the five-acre Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park hosts various annual events.

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Monroe County

Monroe County Park Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln Park

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. 1559 Empire Boulevard, Penfield

Black Creek Park autumn picnic pond
Black Creek Park

Black Creek Park

Black Creek is one of the largest parks in Monroe County’s park system, 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.3835 Union Street, North Chili

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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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Channing Philbrick Linear Park bridge
Channing H Philbrick

Channing H. Philbrick Park

Irondequoit Creek drops 90 feet over one mile through this town park, creating the cascades that make it unique. While the Irondequoit Creek Trail spans the park’s length and beyond, the most exciting section lies east of Linear Park Drive. Near the kiosk next to the upper parking lot, find the easy-to-walk dirt path that follows the creek toward an unusual series of wooden footbridges. Or, walk across the pedestrian bridge that connects Linear Park Drive with North Washington Street to find the Mills Trail—a quick path that leads to the cascades along the creek’s south bank. Follow the Fishing Trail downstream to see the sandy cliff resembling Chimney Bluffs, complete with bank swallow nests. 1 Linear Park Drive, Penfield

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Channing H. Philbrick Park

Irondequoit Creek drops 90 feet over one mile through Channing H Philbrick Park, creating the cascades that make it unique.

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perfect picnic spot north ponds park webster
Charles E Sexton

Charles E. Sexton Memorial Park

This park, formerly known as North Ponds Park, features a one-mile paved path that circles two large ponds with minimal elevation change. You’ll find eight fitness stops designed for various abilities and heights along the path. It also connects with other trails in Webster, such as the Bird Sanctuary Trail, Hojack Rail Trail, and the Route 104 Trail, making it a great starting point for longer hikes or rides. 750 Holt Road, Webster

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Charles E. Sexton Memorial (North Ponds) Park

The one-mile paved loop trail in North Ponds Park circumnavigates two ponds and is perfect for strolling, jogging, biking, and dog-walking.

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Ellison Park creek trail
Ellison Park

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. 395 Rich’s Dugway Road, Penfield

Lehigh Valley Rail Trail Honeoye Creek
Lehigh Valley

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.

Things to do around Rochester NY: Monroe County Parks Lucien Moren
Lucien Moren

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. 1135 Empire Boulevard, Penfield

Mendon Ponds Devil's Bathtub
The Devil’s Bathtub

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.

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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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Northampton Park
Northampton Park

Northampton Park

While Northampton offers several marked hiking trails, certain features make it unique among the Monroe County parks. 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. You’ll also find the Pulver House Museum, managed by the Ogden Historical Society, which is open for Sunday tours between mid-May and mid-October. 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. Along with Powder Mills, Northampton partners with Swain Ski Resort to offer downhill skiing and snowboarding instruction, including a lodge and tow rope. 304 Salmon Creek Road, Spencerport

Water Trails Around Rochester NY Oatka Creek through Oatka Creek Park Scottsville
Oatka Creek Park

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. 9797 Union Street, Wheatland

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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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Powder Mills Park summer fish hatchery
Powder Mills Fish Hatchery

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. (See Roadside Attractions.) 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. 154 Park Road, Pittsford

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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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Greater Rochester

Al Lorenz Park Mount Morris
Al Lorenz

Al Lorenz Park

Located across the Genesee River from Letchworth State Park’s Mount Morris entrance, this park is a true gem that offers a range of walking paths, a pond with beautiful footbridges, and a diverse collection of trees, including a serene pine grove. Al Lorenz Drive, Mount Morris, Livingston County

Genesee County Park & Forest

The Interpretive Nature Center is open year-round, with 10 miles of woodland and wetland trails over 430 acres of rolling hills. Black Creek, which runs through Churchville and Chili on its way to the Genesee River, begins its journey in Genesee County Park. 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany, Genesee County

Jump Off Trail September
Jump Off, pointing toward Rochester

Ontario County Park

The accessible Gannett Hill Jump-Off affords one of the loveliest scenic views in the Finger Lakes region, with County Route 33/West Hollow Road, Bristol Mountain, and, occasionally, Rochester’s skyline viewable from the platform. Spectacular any time of year, the optimal time to visit is during the peak of fall foliage in late October. The Jump-Off Trail connects with the Finger Lakes Trail System’s Bristol Hills Branch Trail. 6475 Gannett Hill Park Drive, Bristol, Ontario County

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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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Surrounding Counties

Other Great Lakes Red House
Red House Lake ASP

Allegany State Park

In the Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border, New York’s largest state park offers mountainous terrain reminiscent of the Adirondacks and Catskills. It’s easy to get around using the park’s three main roads—ASP Routes 1, 2, and 3. Hike one of 18 marked trails across 65,000 acres to nine named peaks, the highest of which is 2,146-foot Mount Tuscarora. Compared with the Adirondack’s 46 named peaks, with 3,820-foot Couchsachraga Peak as its lowest, ASP is a great place to be in the mountains without being overwhelmed by them. Divided into two distinct areas—Red House and Quaker—plan several day trips to explore their unique attractions. Known for the historic Tudor-style administration building with its natural history museum, restaurant, and gift shop, you’ll also find Red House Lake, Thunder Rocks, and the Stone Tower in the Red House Area. The Quaker Area features Mount Tuscarora Fire Tower, Quaker Lake, Science Lake, Bear Caves, an amphitheater, and a museum. Admission fee. 2373 ASP, US-1, Salamanca, Cattaraugus County

Fun fact: Adirondack Park is not a state park, nor is it a national park. Rather, it is a National Historic Landmark covering six million acres of state-owned and privately held land. It is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States and is a permanent wild forest preserve. While it may be a bit of a drive for a day trip, some Rochester residents still make the journey to the mountains. It takes about three hours to reach Old Forge and five hours to reach Lake Placid.

Knox Farm State Park fence
Knox Farm

Knox Farm State Park

Walking paths wind through the former country estate of Buffalo’s Knox family. Wander through woodlands and meadows and around the home’s grounds to see the abandoned swimming pool overtaken by nature. The park also provides an expansive dog park featuring four dedicated sections for dogs of different sizes. 437 Buffalo Road, East Aurora, Erie County

Google Map of Locations

View the map separately here.

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4 Rock Cities Near Rochester

Explore these cool, mossy rock cities near Rochester, like Little Rock City near Ellicottville and Thunder Rocks in Allegany State Park.

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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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Gorge Trails Near Rochester

Gorge trails call out from their deep, dark, and cool caverns. If you haven’t already, start checking these spectacular trails off your list.

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Nature Centers and Preserves Around Rochester

The various nature centers, preserves, and management areas all work to protect and maintain natural spaces for the benefit of all.

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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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Swimming Holes

On a hot day, you can sit under a waterfall, swim in a lake, or jump in a creek at one of these refreshing natural swimming areas.

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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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The Flower City: Exploring Rochester’s Extraordinary Flowers and Trees

Rochester became a global center for flower and tree nurseries in the mid-1800s, fostering our identity as The Flower City.

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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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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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Which are your favorite Rochester area 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 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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