Winter Walks Around Rochester NY cover

30 Winter Walks Around Rochester

It’s challenging to spend quality time outside December through March, when cold wind, snow, ice, and gray skies dominate the landscape. Hopefully these ideas for winter walks around Rochester will inspire you to step outside for some fresh air and, with any luck, sunshine. Bundle up!

Table of Contents

  1. Creek & River Walks
  2. Inland Walks
  3. The Pinnacle Range
  4. Winter Waterfalls
  5. Unique Winter Landscapes
  6. Winter Events & Activities

Winter Creek & River Walks

Winter Walks in Hidden places: Turning Point Park snow winter
Turning Point Park

1. Turning Point

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. It’s the perfect spot to observe the river’s winter wildlife and landscape.

Channing Philbrick Park
Channing H Philbrick Park

2. Channing H. Philbrick (Linear Park)

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. The Irondequoit Creek Trail runs through the length of the park.

Winter Walks in Monroe County Ellison Park Rochester NY
Ellison Park

3. Ellison Park

Take the Indian Landing Trail—a 1.5 mile easy walk over level terrain, full of history—from the location of an old trading post (Fort Schuyler), to the presumed famous Butlers’s Rangers hideout.

Winter Walks in Black Creek Park
Black Creek Park

4. Black Creek

There are several trailheads and several places to park your car at Black Creek Park, one of the largest of Monroe County’s 20 parks, second only to Mendon. Both parks are well known for their sledding hills.

Corbetts Glen winter walk
Corbett’s Glen

5. Corbett’s Glen

Nestled in between an express way and 2 highly trafficked roads near the Penfield/Brighton Town borders, Corbett’s Glen Nature Park is a glorious green space in a suburban jungle.

Inland Winter Walks

Winter Walks in Cumming Nature Center
Cumming Nature Center

6. Cumming Nature Center

Winter is a beautiful time of year at Cumming Nature Center. Enjoy 15 miles of groomed ski trails and a 3-mile loop for snowshoeing. Hiking trails are available if there’s not enough snow to ski.

Winter Walks  through Genesee Country Village
Genesee Country Village

7. Genesee Country Village

Starting January 3, 2021, the Nature Center building and trails will be open on Sundays ONLY for a $5 suggested donation. 

The Genesee Country Nature Center is an outstanding natural area with hundreds of acres of woodlands, meadows, ponds, old fields, fascinating geologic formations, plants, and animals. Visit the Nature Center every Sunday from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM for an independent hike, or join one of our naturalists for a guided family-friendly nature experience.

Walk the streets of the historic village and see the houses decorated with a layer of freshly fallen snow. Have a winter photo shoot, visit our year-round farm animals, or just appreciate the tranquility and beauty of the season.

Bring your own sled or skis, or rent snowshoes, too!

Please call head for walking conditions, and check in at the Nature Center Building before heading into the village.

Winter Walks  along Mendon Ponds Park birdsong trail
Mendon Ponds Park

8. Mendon Ponds

Mendon Ponds Park is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms.

Come with plenty of black oil sunflower seeds, especially during winter and early spring when food is scarce—the chickadees and nuthatches along the Birdsong Trail will land right in your hands!

Tinker Park Winter trail
Tinker Nature Park

9. Tinker Nature Park

Tinker Nature Park comprises 68-acres in Henrietta with a 1.2 mile flat perimeter trail for jogging, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or walking.

Skis and snowshoes are available to rent in the Nature Center from 9AM-3PM Tuesday through Saturday for $3 a pair when there is significant snow on the ground.

Seneca Park Zoo winter walking
Seneca Park Zoo winter sign
Seneca Park Zoo winter pathway
Seneca Park Zoo cover tiger winter
Seneca Park Zoo

10. Seneca Park Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is open all year! And while many animals prefer to stay comfy-cozy inside or in a den, some species, such as polar bears and Amur tigers, enjoy the long, cold Rochester winters.

The Zoo is a great place to go if you feel intimidated walking alone. The paths, as best as they can be, are maintained for walk-ability lessening the risk of falling. The staff is so helpful and there are enough people around to not feel isolated, but not so many as in summertime when it can feel overwhelming.

MacKay Wildlife Preserve Caledonia NY
MacKay Wildlife Preserve

11. MacKay Wildlife Preserve

The preserve is the perfect place to take a quiet walk in the winter woods hearing only the sound of crunching snow under your boot.

The pathways feel natural, like trails the deer had created on their search for food and water; paths of least resistance.

Ganondagan Winter Walk
Ganondagan Long House

12. Ganondagan State Historic Site

The longhouse may only be open May 1-Oct 31, and the Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan is closed until mid-February, but the trails are always open from dawn to dusk! Bring your boots or snowshoes and stick to the flat trails on Boughton Hill for an easy winter workout with a spectacular view.

Ganondagan is the original site of the largest 17th century Seneca town, which at its peak had 150 longhouses.

Rochester Public Market Dukes Donuts

13. Rochester Public Market

Enjoy the Rochester Public Market all year long on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The market, surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants, and vendors, is a unique destination even in wintertime!

Winter Walks Along the Pinnacle Range

Sunken Garden at Warner Castle Rochester NY
Sunken Garden at Warner Castle

14. Sunken Garden

When you stroll around the back of Warner Castle and down the lawn, you’ll discover the Sunken Garden. It’s a peaceful retreat anytime of the year.

Behind the garden, you’ll find Highland Park Bowl–an outdoor amphitheater used for summertime concerts, Shakespeare in the Bowl, and Movies in the Park. But in the wintertime, it’s a great spot for sledding.

Highland Park Reservoir in December
Highland Park

15. Highland Park

Highland Park was designed to be enjoyed year-round. Every pathway, every tree, every vista & every relationship between the land & water is intentional. Enjoy winter’s quiet serenity among the evergreens.

Cobbs Hill Reservoir walking parth winter

16. Cobb’s Hill & Washington Grove

No matter the weather, season, cloud cover, or time of day, I love looking out over the treetops at the Rochester skyline. Encircling the reservoir is a .7-mile flat, paved path perfect for winter walks.

Cobbs Hill and Pinnacle Hill are two of the original five Pinnacle Hills in the Pinnacle Range—a glacial moraine created by the retreating Wisconsin Glacier 10,000 year ago. And it may feel like you’re walking on top of a glacier!

The trail through Washington Grove takes you by the colorful graffiti-tagged water towers and winds through a quiet grove of ancient oaks. Because of the Pinnacle Range, all major infrastructure, like the Erie Canal, subway, and express way, were routed around the area leaving this beautiful area untouched by development.

Jogging in Mount Hope Cemetery
Jogging in Mount Hope Cemetery

17. Mount Hope Cemetery

It may seem odd to think of a cemetery as a family-friendly destination, but Mount Hope Cemetery is as much park-like as it nearby neighbor Highland Park. The shapes and shadows are exaggerated when covered in a blanket of snow.

The Pinnacle Range

The Pinnacle Range along the Rochester’s southern border is a glacial moraine created by the retreating Wisconsin Glacier 12,000 year ago.

Read more

Winter Walks to Waterfalls

Letchworth Upper Falls

18. Letchworth

Middle Falls is viewable from the landing above at the Glen Iris Inn. You can also walk down from the Inn to see the falls up close or continue on to Upper Falls.

The stairway and trail along the river is closed since the mist creates ice-covered surfaces. The road leading down to the Upper Falls parking lot is also closed in wintertime.

High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River winter waterfall
High Falls

19. High Falls

High Falls is both the name of the waterfall and the district where it’s located. There are very few cities in America with a city-center waterfall! It takes on a unique personality in winter.

Taughannock Falls observation area
Taughannock Falls

20. Taughannock Falls

A flat trail leads along the creek to the base of the waterfall. Depending on the amount of snow melt or temps below freezing, the canyon presents a unique winter-scape.

Watch your step as you approach the base of the fall as it will be icy from mist.

Glen Park
Glen Park

21. Glen Park Falls

Glen Park has a handicap-only parking lot with a direct view of the falls. Down the street is a larger parking lot, and the pathways are paved to walk to the falls. It’s also one of our favorite places to take an autumn walk.

Niagara Falls Winter NY USA Horseshoe Falls
Niagara Falls

22. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is beautiful year round, and I highly recommend going at different times throughout the year to witness the uniqueness of each season.

There are times in the depths of winter, when the temperatures are extremely low for an extended period of time, that the falls appear to be completely frozen. It’s a great time to visit!

With less visitors, you’ll feel like you have the entire park to yourself, and you’ll see a greater frequency of black squirrels that inhabit the area. Head right to Goat Island for the best experience.

Unique Winter Landscapes

Webster Park Pier frozen
Webster Pier ice bolders
Webster Pier ice bolders

23. Webster Pier

Frigid temperatures and ferocious winds create wicked art along Lake Ontario. Webster Park pier is just one example, but head toward your favorite spot along the shoreline to observe nature’s creativity firsthand.

The nice thing about places like Webster Park, Sodus Point, Oak Orchard Light, and B. Forman Park, to name a few, is that you can observe the lake right from the parking lot from inside your toasty-warm car. Most lake front property is private, or requires a walk to view the lake.

Letchworth Ice Volcano
Letchworth State Park

24. Letchworth Ice Volcano

If the temperature has been below freezing for an extended period of time, head for Letchworth! The Glen Iris Inn keeps its fountain running all year long, creating a fascinating ice volcano.

Winter Events & Activities

Letchworth Humphrey Nature Center fire pit winter
Humphrey Nature Center

25. First Day Hikes

January 1, 2021

Celebrate the New Year outdoors with a First Day Hike. Each one of these local New York State parks offers a guided or self-guided hike on January 1st. Or, plan your own.

Sledding Hills Around Rochester: Mendon Ponds Park Monroe County
Mendon Ponds Park

26. Mendon Ponds Winterfest

January TBD

Bring the whole family and come on out to Mendon Ponds Park for a FREE, fun-filled, action-packed day.

The event is spread throughout the park, including the Nature Center area, East & West Lodges, Cavalry House Lodge, Cobblestone House, Evergreen Shelter, Hopkins Point Lodge, on the trails, on the sledding hills, and on the ponds.

Women March Seneca Falls
Seneca Falls

27. Women March in Seneca Falls

January TBD

An inclusive, non-partisan 3-day event to celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Lake Ontario Polar Plunge
Lake Ontario Polar Plunge

28. Polar Plunge: Freezin’ for a Reason!

February TBD

Even if you don’t take the plunge you have to witness it! The party-like atmosphere on the frozen shore of Lake Ontario is a great way to shake winter’s funk.

29. Native American Winter Games at Ganondagan

February TBD

Enjoy storytelling, traditional winter games, Iroquois Social dancing, and more!

Maple Sugrar kettle fire
Cumming Nature Center

30. Maple Sugar Season

March TBD

Depending on the date, Maple Weekends fall in either the very end of Winter or very beginning of Spring. Either way, it’s still cold outside!

This is a sweet way to get outside and wander the maple groves and through the sugar shacks and shops to taste the most delicious New York State harvest.

Escape Winter: 5 Warm & Cozy Places

There are several places around Rochester with tropical temperatures or cozy environments to escape winter, at least for a few hours!

Read more

Snow Sports: 6 Ways to Stay Active in Winter

Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, skating, and tubing are great snow sports to shake the winter doldrums with exposure to fresh air and sun.

Read more

Wintertime in Rochester

It’s cold, it’s snowy, it’s dark. It’s wintertime in Rochester! Here are a few suggestions to help embrace our winter season.

Read more

If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but the same amount of snow.

Where are your favorite winter walks?

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


5 thoughts on “30 Winter Walks Around Rochester”

  1. wow !!! What a wonderful list of Interesting, Exciting, Educational things to do in and around Rochester, I’ll e 90 in March and I’m interested in Exploring These Wonderful Sights and Places. I had no idea what is right around me, and I’ve lived in Chili, NY for over 50 years. Thank You so much for publishing this Information, I am going to Visit most of these places (As God Allows me to do) before my 100th Birthday, Thanks Again. Art Reimherr.

  2. Genesee Valley Greenway…….Start in Avon off Route 20 West, near the split with Route 5. Hike, bike, ride, run for miles and miles. Linear trail following the old GVCanal.

    1. Oh yes! I agree, Chas, all of our rail trails are excellent walks. We just did a portion of the Lehigh Valley Trail from River Road in Caledonia to the river where it meets the Greenway at Wadsworth Junction and the Genesee River. And the Erie-Attica from Barilla in Avon is another great place to connect with the Greenway.

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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.