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10 Winter Hikes to Take with the Family in the Rochester region
By Sue Freeman, Footprint Press
Winter Hike, Snowshoe and Cross-Country Ski Trails in Western New York
Winter is no time to stay indoors. Doing so will only result in cabin fever and kids bouncing off the walls. Instead, bundle the kids in warm clothes and head to a local trail. No matter where you live, there's sure to be a trail nearby. Go for a winter walk, or try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. If you don't have equipment, there are plenty of places that rent them inexpensively for the day. Some are listed below.
While on your winter outing, stop for a break and examine the snow closely. Can you decipher individual snowflakes? Has a warm spell compacted the snow or a cold spell created an ice layer on top? It's a good opportunity to talk with your kids about the life cycle of snow. Look through the woods too. See how far you can see when the leaves are down. Watch for animal tracks in the snow. Maybe even start a snowball fight, then break out a thermos of hot cocoa for reconciliation.
We're fortunate. Trails are plentiful here. And finding them is made even easier thanks to Footprint Press guidebooks. Maps of the trails, directions to find the trailheads, information on length and difficulty, and everything you need to know about each trail to have a fun family adventure can be found in the various guidebooks. These books can be found in local stores or from the Footprint Press online catalog. The guidebooks are available in print and as pdf file e-books for easy download.
Harriet Hollister Spencer Memorial State Recreation Area south of Honeoye Lake offers a groomed network of trails that sit at a high elevation so they almost always have snow, and it's free. (Snow Trails, page 116 and Take A Hike - Finger Lakes, page 43 and Take Your Bike - Finger Lakes, page 52).
Have you ever experienced a winter marsh? Try walking on Beatty Point Park Trail in Greece for a unique winter experience (Take A Hike - Rochester, page 25).
Daylight during wintertime is short, so go skiing or snowshoeing at night on the lit trails at Byrncliff Resort in Varysburg. (Snow Trails, page 62).
Hike or snowshoe to the top of Bare Hill on the west side of Canandaigua Lake for a panoramic view of the lake below. (Take A Hike - Finger Lakes, page 71)
Northampton Park in Ogden offers a ski lodge and miles of rolling trails. It even has a small downhill ski hill. (Take A Hike – Rochester, page 40)
6. Webster Park
Explore the labyrinth of trails in Webster Park in Webster. (Snow Trails, page 76).
For snowshoeing or hiking head up to the plateau on Indian Hill Section of the Crescent Trail in Perinton. On a crisp winter day, the view overlooking downtown Rochester is spectacular. (Take A Hike – Rochester, page 147).
8. Winter hikes at the nature centers
Rent snowshoes at Genesee Country Nature Center in Mumford or Cumming Nature Center west of Canandaigua Lake and see why this sport is growing in popularity. (Snow Trails, pages 186, 88, 42, 112, 142).
Mendon Ponds Park in Mendon is a favorite among cross-country skiers in the Rochester area who enjoy hills. There are several areas with good trail loops but the most popular (often groomed) is the East Esker Trails. (Take A Hike – Rochester, page 97)
10. Oatka Creek Park
For solitude in the woods, try the trails of Oatka Creek Park in Scottsville. You’ll walk, ski or snowshoe where gypsum was mined years ago. (Take A Hike – Rochester, page 61)
© 2013, Sue Freeman
Sue is author of Take a Hike, Take Your Bike!, Snow Trails, and many other guides to the natural beauty of central and western New York State.