By Kyra Mancine
Hiking is a great way to make the most of warmer weather, take in the scenery and stay active. Here are a few options that the whole family will enjoy. Before you head out, make sure to put on appropriate footwear (hiking or water shoes), wear a hat and slather on sunscreen. Bring your water bottle and bug spray too. Happy hiking!
Eternal Flame Trail
Chestnut Ridge Park
6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park
For a unique treat, follow the flame markings on the trees into the forest and down the hill into the ravine, turn left and walk through the stream. This 1.4-mile hike is short, but has challenging terrain. Your reward? A flame at the base of a waterfall, thanks to a grotto that emits natural gas. Free admission and parking. Find the parking area on the south edge of the park (not the main entrance).
- More info: www3.erie.gov/parks/chestnut-ridge
Chimney Bluff Trail
East West Trail and Drumlin Trail
Chimney Bluffs State Park, 7700 Garner Road, Wolcott
These trails (ranging from .5 to 1.75 miles) offer spectacular views of drumlins (glacial deposits) that have eroded, creating spectacular spires along Lake Ontario’s coast. Hike with care here, don’t get too close to the edge and make sure to heed the warning signs. Park on Garner Road (main entrance) or East Bay Road. Open dawn to dusk. $5 admission.
- More info: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/chimneybluffs/
Finger Lakes region
Loop Trail, Canadice Lake
Hemlock Trail, Rob’s Trail Preserve
6038-6152 Bald Hill Road, Springwater
Ranging from 1.75 to 4.8 miles, these trails connect two undeveloped Finger Lakes areas. For a shorter hike, choose the Hemlock Trail and walk 1.5 miles to the shoreline and head back up, instead of continuing on to the boat launch. This hike can be muddy and challenging with substantial elevation (on the way back). The trail goes through various habitats, including a hardwood forest. Open dawn to dusk. Free admission and parking.
- More info: www.nature.org/en-us then type Rob’s Trail Preserve in the search menu.
Robert H. Treman State Park
105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca
If you like waterfalls and gorge views, you’ll love this 1.5-mile hike. View 12 waterfalls of various heights, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls. Be prepared for a lot of stairs and a substantial elevation change (over 500 feet). You can also do a loop and follow the Rim Trail back to the parking lot. End your day with a dip in a stream-fed pool beneath a waterfall. Open dawn to dusk. $9 admission.
- More info: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/roberttreman/
Green Lake & Round Lake Trails
Green Lakes State Park
7900 Green Lakes Road, Fayetteville
Walk around these two lakes in less than an hour for stunning views. The surface and bottom layers of these unique meromictic lakes do not mix seasonally, resulting in beautiful blue/green hues. These trails are flat, making them perfect for all ages and fitness levels. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are 15+ miles of less traveled trails to explore as well. $10 park admission.
The Trail System
Baltimore Woods Nature Center
4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus
Nine trails covering six miles await. Trail distances range from the .2-mile Robert Harrison Loop to the 1.4-mile Boundary Trail. Owned by the Central New York Land Trust, this 182-acre property includes woodlands, fields and streams. Open dawn to dusk. Free admission and parking.
- More info: https://baltimorewoods.org
Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe
253 state Route 104, Williamstown
Enjoy short ½ mile walks through fields and forest for a panoramic view of the 24-acre Lake Lorraine. One of three rare “Kettlehole” lakes on the property, these lakes exist due to gigantic chunks of a melting glacier during the last ice age. Pets not allowed. Open dawn to dusk.
- More info: https://youthbureau.oswegocounty.com
Green, Blue, Red & Orange Trails
Rice Creek Field Station\
Brownell Road, Oswego
Ranging from .75 to 3.2 miles, these trails include woods, wetlands, meadows, fields and forests. You’ll see a variety of plant and animal life along the way. Choose the 3.2-mile Orange Trail for the most diverse terrain, including remnants of abandoned orchards. For the chance to glimpse beaver activity, pick the Green Trail. Open to the public, dawn to dusk. Free admission.
- More info: www.oswego.edu/rice-creek/trails-overview
Mohawk Valley area
Mohawk River Trail (MRT)
139 East Whitesboro Street #111
Get in your steps on this almost 4-mile long, multi-use flat trail along the Mohawk River. Start at Bellamy Harbor Park and enjoy views of the waterfront, historical sites, schools, and residential commercial areas. This scenic route connects multiple greenways. Open dawn to dusk. Free admission and parking.
- More info: https://romenewyork.com/trailway-systems/