Parks & Gardens > Parks
Ever since nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry donated 20 acres for a city park in the 1880s, parks have been a quality-of-life priority in Rochester. Their donation formed the nucleus of Highland Park and launched the city’s parks system. Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, was responsible for Rochester’s anchor parks: North Park (now Maplewood and Seneca) and South Park (Genesee Valley). He placed them along the Genesee River and laced them with trails, offering scenic views and wide lawns for both passive and active recreation. Local residents today enjoy 21 parks on nearly 12,000 urban and suburban acres in Monroe County. Admission is free unless otherwise noted. Maps, trail descriptions and other park facts are available to download from the Monroe County Web site, www.monroecounty.gov. Follow the “Parks” link. Most park trails are open to walkers, runners, horseback riders and cross-country skiers; check signs. Bicycles are not allowed on most trails, but there are exceptions.
Bausch & Lomb Riverside Park
This city park follows the eastern bank of the Genesee River next to the University of Rochester. Calling it River Walk, Frederick Law Olmsted planned the three-quarter-mile stretch of 197 oak trees as part of the university campus. Most visitors use the park to run, walk or bike along its paved path, a continuous stretch that connects Genesee Valley Park to the city center. Bridges provide access to paths and neighborhoods on the river’s west side. The park has picnic tables, and at a bend in the river, its views of downtown are second to none.
Black Creek Park
Entrances on Union Street, Chili-Riga Town Line Road and Route 33A
Ride horseback in the fall or cross-country ski in the winter across Black Creek Park’s more than 1,500 undeveloped acres. Non-fuel model airplane enthusiasts gather here to fly their craft. Visitors also will find a playground, two ponds and picnic areas. Woodside Lodge and Pathfinder Shelter are available to rent.
Channing Philbrick Park
Linear Park Drive, off Route 441
Irondequoit Creek tumbles 90 feet in one mile, giving the park’s Falls Trail its name. Hikers like the route in all weather; anglers abound during fishing season. There are a small playground, bathrooms, picnic tables and an emergency phone.
Kendall Road and Main Street
Located on Black Creek, Churchville Park offers fishing and boating. Though the park has no maintained trails, there is abundant open space, plus lodges and shelters for picnics and relaxation, a golf course and an outdoor skating rink.
Corbett's Glen Nature Park
Penfield Road south of North Landing Road
Woods, meadows, wetlands and a waterfall on Allen’s Creek fill the park’s 17 acres; hikers typically encounter deer and other wildlife. The creek is a spawning ground for salmon and trout.
Devil's Cove Park
Water access only on the east shore of Irondequoit Bay
Curious boaters will find a natural and undeveloped spot for a quiet picnic in Devil’s Cove.
Lakeshore Boulevard, Culver Road and Kings Highway
The 965-acre park includes 5,000 feet of Lake Ontario waterfront. It has a Robert Trent Jones golf course, picnic shelters and playgrounds. Durand-Eastman Beach was recently reopened for swimming. Packed with mature trees and other plants, the park is an arboretum and a nature lover’s paradise. Enjoy trails for hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.
Blossom Road, Landing Road
Irondequoit Creek winds through 447 acres of woods and wetlands here. The park has an unofficial dog play area, a disc golf course, tennis courts, softball fields, a playground, shelters, lodges and trails for hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.
Genesee Valley Park
Elmwood Avenue at Moore Road, and East River Road
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park, originally called South Park. Majestic trees, wide lawns and the Genesee River define the serene setting. The park is home to the Head of the Genesee Invitational Regatta, which draws top-ranked collegiate rowing teams every October. Within the park, Genesee Valley Golf Club has two public, 18-hole courses.
Greece Canal Park
Elmgrove Road at Mellwood Road
The Erie Canal borders the southern edge of this 577-acre park. Woods, meadows and wetlands offer great hiking and biking; one of the trails is part of the New York State Canal Trail system. A playground, softball and soccer fields, picnic areas, lodges and shelters make the park a popular destination.
Reservoir Avenue at Goodman Street or South Avenue
Frederick Law Olmsted designed this park as an arboretum with azaleas, lilacs, rhododendrons, horse chestnuts, Japanese maples, magnolias and more. The Lilac Festival is held here in May. Park highlights include a reservoir, Lamberton Conservatory, the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the AIDS Remembrance Garden, the Victims’ Rights Memorial, the Iris Friendship Garden and Warner Castle. Paved walking paths and sidewalks wind through woodlands and meadows.
Irondequoit Bay Marine Park
Culver Road and Sea Breeze Drive
The marine park provides fee-based boat access to Irondequoit Bay, which empties into Lake Ontario to the north. A pier is popular with anglers and a great place to watch boat activity. Hamburger stands and historic Seabreeze Amusement Park are close by.
Irondequoit Bay Park East
Empire Boulevard at Smith Road
The park’s undeveloped 182 acres provide fishing access on the bay’s eastern shore in Irondequoit. Woodlands sloping down to the shore are great for vigorous hiking.
Irondequoit Bay Park West
Empire Boulevard on south shore
This park offers fishing spots on the bay, as well as forested hiking on 147 acres. A small, undeveloped boat launch is available.
Lehigh Valley Linear Trail Park
Rush-West Rush Road at Route 15A, Rush Plains Road at Junction Road, Mendon, Route 251 at Route 64 (Pittsford-Mendon Center Road)
The 15-mile linear park rolls through Monroe County’s southern towns, making it a popular park for distance biking, hiking and cross-country skiing.
Lake and Driving Park avenues
See Maplewood Rose Garden
Mendon Ponds Park
Multiple entrances on Route 65 (Clover Street) and Route 64 (Pittsford-Mendon Center Road)
The largest of the county’s parks has 30 miles of trails winding through 2,500 acres of woods and wetlands. One-fifth of the park is a nature preserve filled with seven miles of wooded trails. It’s a popular location for hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. The historic Cobblestone House, overlooking Hundred Acres Pond on Douglas Road, is available to the public for special events.
Mount Hope Cemetery
791 Mt. Hope Ave. Rochester, NY
Dedicated in 1838, Mount Hope was the first great Victorian cemetery developed by a municipality. Set on wooded, steeply rolling terrain, Mount Hope holds mausoleums tucked into hillsides and abundant Victorian funerary art. It is the final resting place of American leaders in business and social reform, including Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, John Jacob Bausch, Henry Lomb, Frank E. Gannett and the city’s founder, Col. Nathaniel Rochester. At the entrance, note the 1874 High Victorian Gothic gatehouse and the 1872 Moorish gazebo.
Colby Street at either Hubbell Road or Salmon Creek Road
This 973-acre park in the towns of Ogden and Sweden features Springdale Farm, an educational attraction popular with families. Beginning skiers and snowboarders will find a rope tow, ski rental and a slope that’s just the right size. The park has hiking trails, lodges and sports fields, along with the Pulver House Museum, operated by the Ogden Historical Society. A remote-control flying field is open to users with an AMA license.
Oatka Creek Park
Union Street and Stewart Road
In Oatka Creek’s abundant waters, fly-casting anglers find trout. Roughly a mile of this waterway winds through the park’s 461 undeveloped acres.
Ontario Beach Park
Beach Avenue at Lake Avenue
This is where the city of Rochester dips its toes into Lake Ontario. Along with a sandy beach and guarded swimming area, the park offers a playground, boat launch, fishing pier and boardwalk. The original 1905 Dentzel menagerie carousel and Roger Robach Community Center (the renovated former bathhouse) are reminders of Charlotte’s days as the Coney Island of the West. Concerts by the Shore at the Performance Pavilion draw music lovers on summer nights.
Powder Mills Park
Route 96 (Pittsford-Victor Road) at Park Road
A historic fish hatchery is the focal point, but Powder Mills Park offers plenty more: downhill skiing lessons, sand volleyball courts, trails for cross-country skiing and hiking, plus picnic shelters, fishing access and a playground.
St. Paul Street north of Route 104
A Frederick Law Olmsted park, Seneca hugs the Genesee River gorge on the east side, north of downtown. The park is home to the Seneca Park Zoo, established in 1894. Forested hiking trails, Trout Pond and dramatic views of the deep gorge are highlights of the park. Call 467-9453 for zoo hours and admission prices.
North Winton Road at Tryon Park, Rochester, and Empire Boulevard, Irondequoit
This little park (82 acres) along Irondequoit Bay’s southern shore is undeveloped and low-key. Water views reward hikers who tackle the steep, wooded trails; the marshlands of Irondequoit Creek are a favorite for nature lovers in kayaks and canoes.
East Lake Road at Holt Road
Perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario, the park has 550 rolling, tree-shaded acres. Groups use its lodges and shelters, including the spacious White House, a former residence. Sports fields, a playground, trails and picnic areas offer plenty to do. Venture out on the pier to catch a fish or a sunset. Cabins and a campground can be reserved from May to October.