Local Trails: 5 Gems You Should Hike

Female hiker standing on a large rock in the woods. Photo by Leah Kelley.

Remember in late winter and early spring when we were all sick of being stuck at home and social distancing? As soon as the weather broke, it seems like everyone scrambled to get outside. Since then, there’s been more hiking, biking, running, and strolling happening than in most summers. And we’ve reached that point in the season when phrases like “back to school” are starting to be heard. That means you’ll blink and the snow will fly through the South Wedge once again.

Before it’s time to “cocoon” ourselves for another Rochester winter, we wanted to pass on a handful of hiking suggestions. These are great trails that are all closeby, beautiful, and easy or moderate in difficulty. Chances are, there are at least a couple you’ve never heard of, so be sure to check them out soon.

Old Rifle Range Trail

Located in Lucien Morin Park at the southernmost point of Irondequoit Bay, this 3.1-mile loop trail features a variety of environments (e.g. lake, creek, wetlands) with abundant wildlife. If you’re a birdwatcher, it will become one of your local favorites. You can find more information here.

Zoo Cascade Trail

This 2.4-mile out-and-back trail is located in Seneca Park, home of the Seneca Park Zoo. Rated as moderate in difficulty, the trail offers some beautiful views of the Genesee River. At the end, there’s a set of stairs that leads to the base of a cascading waterfall. Be careful – there are some steep sections that can be muddy and slippery if it’s recently rained. You can find more information here.

Eastman Lake Loop

You’ve likely visited Durand-Eastman park and you may know it has two beautiful lakes, but if you’ve never hiked the loop trail around Eastman Lake, you’ve missed one of the most picturesque places in Rochester. The lake is surrounded by high, forested hills, and the trail follows it right along the water’s edge. This 1.5-mile loop trail is an easy hike that will make you feel like you’re deep in the Adirondacks. You can find more information here.

Brighton Town Park Trail

Located in a fairly new park that you may not know about, this 1.8-mile loop trail is moderate in difficulty. The park is on Westfall Road and the trail circles a large 12-acre pond and wetlands – both of which mean lots of interesting birds and wildlife to view. You can find more information here.

Stevenson Trail

Located in Maplewood Park, this is a relatively hidden trail that few hikers know about. It follows the Genesee River and features a beautiful view of lower falls and the old RG&E building. If you visit, be sure to also check out the park’s rose garden, located near the trailhead off Driving Park Avenue. Take note that the descent is relatively steep and can be muddy if it has recently rained. You can find more information here.