Rochester and Monroe County offer a stunning winter landscape that will leave you in awe. Take a leisurely stroll and breathe in the crisp, refreshing air that invigorates your senses. The winter sun casts a beautiful glow over the snow-covered ground, making it a perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors.
City of Rochester
1. Cobb’s Hill
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 years 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 expressway, were routed around the area, leaving this beautiful area untouched by development.
2. Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Valley Park is a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park located at the Erie Canal, Red Creek, and Genesee River intersection. It’s the perfect spot to observe these waterways in winter, especially when they’ve had time to freeze over.
3. High Falls
High Falls is the waterfall’s name and the district where it’s located. Few American cities have an urban waterfall as part of the skyline. It takes on a unique personality in winter. Note that the Pond de Rennes Bridge is closed for maintenance through 2024.
4. 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.
5. 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 its nearby neighbor, Highland Park. The shapes and shadows are exaggerated when covered in a blanket of snow.
6. Rochester Public Market
Enjoy the Rochester Public Market all year long on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants, and vendors, the market is a unique destination even in wintertime.
7. 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 an excellent place to visit if you feel anxious walking alone. The paths are well-maintained for walkability, reducing the risk of falling. The staff is accommodating, and enough people are around to make you feel safe, but not so many as in summer when it can be overwhelming.
8. 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 any time 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.
9. 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 24-mile Genesee Riverway Trail. It’s the perfect spot to observe the river’s winter wildlife and landscape.
10. Black Creek
11. Brickyard Trail
Once you begin your walk, ski, or snowshoe journey, you become unaware of traffic and are transported into a peaceful woodland and wetland. It’s highly populated with birds, even in winter.
12. 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 unique. The Irondequoit Creek Trail runs through the length of the park.
13. Corbett’s Glen
Nestled in between an expressway and two highly trafficked roads near the Penfield and Brighton town border, Corbett’s Glen Nature Park is a glorious green space in a suburban jungle. Park near the Glen Road entrance to enjoy the waterfalls.
14. 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.
15. Genesee Country Village
$5 for non-members, $3 for members, free for children 12 and under.
On Sundays in January and February, visitors to the Genesee Country Village can enjoy sledding in the Great Meadow, walks in the Historic Village, snowshoeing in the wintery woods, warm beverages and snacks in the toasty Meeting Center, and more.
16. 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—the chickadees and nuthatches along the Birdsong Trail will land right in your hand.
17. 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 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for $3 a pair when significant snow is on the ground.
18. 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 inside your toasty-warm car. Most lakefront property is private or requires a substantial walk to view the lake.
Where are your favorite winter walks in Monroe County?
Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.