Terrific Upstate Trails to Try This Season

By Kyra Mancine

Eternal Flame Trail
Eternal Flame Trail

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!

Buffalo region

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).

Chimney Bluff
Chimney Bluff

Rochester region

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.

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.

Robert H. Treman State Park
Robert H. Treman State Park

Gorge Trail

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/

Syracuse region

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.

More info: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/greenlakes/details.aspx

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.

Oswego region

Nature Trails

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.

Green, Blue, Red & Orange Trails

Rice Creek Field Station\

SUNY Oswego

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.

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.