Snowshoeing & Racing Options Within Rochester, NY

A fresh snowfall can offer a unique experience to explore our city or countryside. One snowshoe-friendly community worth exploring after fresh snow, is Rochester, NY. The city has excellent snowshoeing conditions, as it receives an average snowfall of 95 inches (241 cm) per year. Explore city and county parks within Rochester to get your snowshoe fix within your own backyard! Plus, check out some of the snowshoe races connected to each park.

Read More: Snowshoeing Day Trips Near Rochester

Mendon Ponds, Rochester, NY

You may see unique trees while snowshoeing at Mendon Ponds. Photo by Jacqui Wensich

Snowshoeing Rochester City Parks & Trails

Cobb’s Hill Park & Washington Grove

Cobb’s Hill Park is located on the southeast side of the city on Culver Road and Norris Drive. Spanning 109 acres, Cobb’s Hill Park has multiple scenic hiking trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Go snowshoeing up to the highest point in the park for a spectacular view of the entire city of Rochester, NY. If you need a break, there are also shelters and lodges in the park to rest.

Located east of Cobb’s Hill Reservoir, you’ll find Washington Grove, a 100-acre undeveloped sanctuary. Snowshoe among the towering oaks and wildlife in this sanctuary in the middle of the bustling city of Rochester. Dogs are also allowed on your adventures, as long as they stay on-leash.

Erie Canal Heritage Trail

The Erie Canal Heritage Trail stretches approximately 60 miles (96.5 km) from Buffalo to Albany, New York. The trail varies in terrain and includes paved, stone dust, natural/ unfinished, and on-road sections. Traveling east along the canal from Long Pond Rd to N Main Street, the trail is paved and an easy snowshoeing option after a fresh snowfall. For additional details, consult the trail map.

Genesee Valley Greenway State Park

Established in 2011, Genesee Valley Greenway State Park includes one trail which stretches along the Genesee River for 90 miles (144.8 km) along the former Pennsylvania Railroad. The trail, formerly referred to as the Genesee Greenway Trail, travels through wetlands, woodlands, valleys, farmland, and gorges. This trail lies in an old railway bed with level terrain over cider, gravel, dirt, and grass. Beginners will enjoy traveling the sections of the trail throughout Rochester.

The trail at Genesee Valley Greenway State Park also intersects the Erie Canal Heritage Trail at I-390. If you continue south of Rochester on the trail, you’ll snowshoe through the beautiful Letchworth State Park as well.

Genesee Riverway Trail

The Genesee Riverway Trail provides access to 12 parks and 12 historical sites throughout Rochester, making it a sure-fire way to explore the beauty of the city. The trail is 24 miles (38.6 km) long and paved for most of the trail.  Snowshoe rentals are available at the Recreation Bureau Office at 400 Dewey Ave in the city of Rochester.

Snowshoeing Monroe County Parks Near Rochester NY

Abraham Lincoln Park

Abraham Lincoln Park is an 82-acre park located on southeast Irondequoit Bay, in the town of Penfield, 10-15 minutes east of Rochester. You can enter the park from Smith Road, Empire Boulevard, or Dayton Avenue. There are six different trails throughout the park for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and all great for beginners, with the longest trail at 1.5 miles (2.4 km).

Besides snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, Abraham Lincoln Park is an excellent location for geocaching or hanging out with the family at the playground. If planning an event, you can also reserve the beautiful Waterfront Lodge at the park.

Black Creek Park

Spanning 1505 acres, Black Creek Park is a relatively undeveloped park but provides creek and pond access, as well as geocaching options. For snowshoers and cross-country skiers,  there are five hiking trails available. They also have shelters, two lodges, and a sledding hill. In the summer, Black Creek Park is an excellent option for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

For those interested in snowshoe racing, the Little Rodent Race and Cast A Shadow race takes place at Black Creek Park every year. The Little Rodent Race is a short 4-mile race scheduled for the morning of Feb 8, 2020. After the Little Rodent, the Cast A Shadow race, also held on Feb 8, is a 6-hour evening race with the option to run solo or relay.  Since part of the 6-hour race takes place at night, you are required to wear a headlamp. The unique aspect of Cast A Shadow is that it has a theme, which coincides with Groundhog Day. If the groundhog sees its shadow, the race is longer, and if the groundhog does not see its shadow, it’s shorter.

Durand Eastman Park

Durand Eastman Park is a 977-acre park located on the shore of Lake Ontario in the northernmost section of Rochester, by Irondequoit Bay. It has steep slopes, valleys, scenic vistas, small lakes, wooded areas, and exceptional beauty.

There are three main trails that you can use for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, each offering a unique perspective of the park. The park also has eight shelters, one enclosed lodge, and a golf course.

Ellison Park

Ellison Park is a 447-acre park in the town of Penfield, located on Blossom Road on the east side of Route 590. The park has beautiful woodlands steep slopes and a level flood plain that is part of Irondequoit Creek. As part of your snowshoeing adventure, you can also access two sledding hills.

Seven trails are available for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Ellison Park is perfect for history lovers too since they have a replica of Fort Schuyler, an old trading post, and Butlers Ranger’s hideout.

Greece Canal Park

Greece Canal Park is a 577-acre park with four named and one unnamed trail for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. The trails in the park are an excellent option for beginners since trails are on flat or gently rolling terrain. Greece Canal Park is in the town of Greece, just 15-20 minutes north of Rochester. The park itself is south of Ridge Road (Route 104) and north of the NYS Barge Canal. You can enter the park at 24 Elmgrove Road.

Irondequoit Bay Park

Spanning 147 acres, Irondequoit Bay Park West is an entirely undeveloped park located on the southwestern shoreline of Irondequoit Bay. It’s north of Empire Boulevard and east of 590 in the Town of Irondequoit. Located just 15 minutes from Rochester, NY, seven color-coded trails intersect each other, and you can use for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon Ponds Park is the largest of Monroe County Parks, sprawling over 2500 acres. Thus, this park is an excellent option for many winter activities, including hiking, snowshoeing, and cross -country skiing.

In 1969 it was named to the National Registry of National Landmarks due to its geological history and presence of kames, eskers, and kettles. Thus, the 11 snowshoe and cross country trails in Mendon Ponds have a variety of terrain, including woodlands, ponds, wetlands, and glacially created landforms. Also, if you don’t have snowshoes, it’s no problem! You can rent snowshoes at the Wild Wings located at Mendon Ponds West near the nature center and Sheriff’s mounted patrol in the park.

Snowshoeing Trails in Mendon Ponds, Rochester, NY

Snowshoeing trails at Mendon Ponds. Photo courtesy of Jacqui Wensich

For snowshoe racers, you can compete at the Winterfest 8K Snowshoe Race held in Mendon Ponds. The race is part of the Goose Adventure Racing Series and scheduled for Jan 12, 2020. Also, for those interested in the U.S. National Championships, this race is a qualifier!

Oakta Creek Park

Oakta Creek Park is a mostly undeveloped park, and one mile of the creek runs through the park. The park is 461 acres located in the southern part of the county in the town of Wheatland, 25-min southwest from downtown Rochester. There are nine trails you can cross-country ski or snowshoe, all under 1 mile long. If interested in an event, the park also has one lodge available for rent.

Powder Mills Park

Powder Mills Park is a 380-acre park with steep hillsides, meadows, and wetlands, located 15 min southeast of Rochester in Pittsford. You can downhill ski, cross-country ski, and snowshoe in the park on the five trails available. Additionally, there are four lodges and three shelters available.

Seneca Park

Seneca Park is a 297-acre park in the northern portion of Rochester and on the east bank of the Genesee River. Explore scenic views, open fields, and a large pond, as you snowshoe on the six trails available in the park.

Tyron Park

Located on the western shore of Irondequoit Bay, Tyron Park is an 82-acre undeveloped park with scenic views. For snowshoers, the park has four color-coded trails winding throughout the park.

Webster County Park

Webster County Park is a 550-acre park with rolling terrain, lakeshore views, and pristine valleys to go snowshoeing in near Rochester, NY. The park is located on the south shore of Lake Ontario and has six lodges and six shelters.

Six trails are available for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, ranging from 0.5-1.6 miles (0.8- 2.6 km). The Rochester Cross-Country Ski Patrol grooms the cross-country ski trails. Furthermore, there is a sledding hill for family fun adventures.

Read More: Snowshoeing Day Trips Near Rochester

Snowshoe Race Series At Rochester City & County Parks

Put your snowshoeing to the test and enter a snowshoe race in the Rochester area. Personally, I have raced in several of the races listed below, and you don’t want to miss these events!

Adam Niziol Mendon Ponds 5K

The author racing at Mendon Ponds. Photo by Adam Niziol

Fleet Feet Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series

The Fleet Feet Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series, presented by Yellowjacket Racing, offers four fun mid-week snowshoe races. Participants can register for one race or the entire series. For 2020, the races will be Jan 15, Jan 29, Feb 12, and Feb 26. All races take place at night, with a start time of 6:30 pm, so you are required to use a headlamp.

Due to unpredictable conditions, you can run with snowshoes or without snowshoes. In the past, the races took place primarily at Cobb’s Hill Park. However, the races now take place at four different locations including, Mendon Ponds Park, Webster Park, Black Creek Park, and
Seneca Creek Park.

Goose Adventure Racing Snowshoe Series

The Goose Adventure Racing Snowshoe Series consists of five races from Jan 4 to Feb 15th.

The first race on Jan 4 is the Frozen Assets 5K race at Harriet Hollister Spencer Recreation Area. Racers are required to run in snowshoes and must meet the requirements. The track consists of groomed cross-country ski trails and ungroomed single-track trails.

The second race, as mentioned above, is the Winterfest 8K race, which takes place at Mendon Ponds Park on Jan 12, 2020. Racers will be running on a mostly groomed trail.

Frozen Assets Race- Harriet Hollister, near Rochester

A runner at Frozen Assets – Photo courtesy of Ian Webber

The third and fourth races in the series also discussed above, are the Little Rodent and the Cast-a -Shadow 6 Hour Race. Both held on Feb 8, 2020, the Little Rodent is a 4-mile (6.4 km) morning race, while the Cast-A-Shadow 6 Hour takes place in the evening, with the timing dependent on whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not.

The final race of the series is the Nordicfest 10K Race, which takes place at the Cummings Nature Center. Furthermore, this race takes place entirely in the woods on backcountry trails.

Read More: Run Rabbit, Run To Snowshoeing: Transition From Running To Snowshoe Racing

What city or county parks or trails have you gone snowshoeing at near Rochester, NY? We’d love to hear about your experience!

A correction was made to this article on Jan 21, 2020, to clarify trail information in Genessee Valley Greenway State Park. 


  • Adam Niziol

    Adam lives and works in Erie County, NY. His favorite season is winter and is an avid winter sport enthusiast. He has been snowshoe racing since 2005 and competed in the Empire State Games from 2005-2011. He has competed in multiple sprint, 5k, and 10k races across New York, including running in the U.S. Nationals. In addition to running, Adam enjoys a variety of other sports including hockey, soccer, skiing, biking, swimming, golfing, camping, backpacking, and hiking. He runs several outdoor groups on LinkedIn, Strava, and Facebook.

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About the author

Adam Niziol

Adam lives and works in Erie County, NY. His favorite season is winter and is an avid winter sport enthusiast. He has been snowshoe racing since 2005 and competed in the Empire State Games from 2005-2011. He has competed in multiple sprint, 5k, and 10k races across New York, including running in the U.S. Nationals. In addition to running, Adam enjoys a variety of other sports including hockey, soccer, skiing, biking, swimming, golfing, camping, backpacking, and hiking. He runs several outdoor groups on LinkedIn, Strava, and Facebook.

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1 Comment

  • Another great article on how and where we can all enjoy winter. Snowshoeing is fun and great exercise. Thanks for the info !!

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