Do the Swamp Stomp

by Sue Freeman

On the surface of it, “swamp” is not a very inviting word. It conjures up images of a wet world with slimy creatures slithering about. But, nothing could be farther from the truth. Swamps are magical places where plants and animals abound in glorious diversity. Yes, they are wet places by definition, but many area hiking trails get around that tiny problem by building boardwalks or raised dikes to keep your feet firmly planted on dry surfaces.

Delight your senses with a hike to some of the regions spectacular swamps. Penfield has the Thousand Acre Swamp with a 2.6-mile loop hike where you can listen to a frog serenade and spot turtles. Perinton offers the Wetlands Section of the Crescent Trail where beavers are active sculptors of the land. These trails can be found in “Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester Area.” (visit or call 1-800-431-1579)

Then head south to the north end of Honeoye Lake where you can walk the boardwalk at Sandy Bottom Nature Trail. We walked the 0.8-mile loop in early spring and watched a loon paddle the flooded wetlands accompanied by a variety of other birds. Huckleberry Swamp in North Rose also offers a boardwalk through a swamp where great blue herons nest.

The Dorothy McIlroy Bird Sanctuary south of Lake Como has a trail that passes through a rich shrub fen along Fall Creek, offering a unique plant community. The sanctuary sits on a pocket of high plateau and is considered a boreal swamp forest with hemlock and yellow birch trees that are more characteristic of northerly forests. An information kiosk at the start of the trail describes in graphic detail the difference between a swamp and a rich shrub fen.

In Montour Falls you’ll find Bad Indian Swamp, now know as Queen Catharine Marsh. As you wander the trails through the cattail swamp you can wonder who the bad Indian was and what made him bad. Queen Catharine was Catharine Montour, queen of the local native tribe who died in 1804.

Finish off with a more strenuous hike to Huckleberry Bog in Urbana State Forest. This bog is rare because it sits on a high plateau. Huckleberry Bog supports high bush and low bush blueberries and sphagnum moss (which is characteristic of bogs), but no huckleberries. No problem, it’s another magical wetland. All of these swamp hikes can be found it “Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.” (visit or call 1-800-431-1579)

Do the swamp stomp. You’ll discover a wonderful diversity of plant and animal life along your journey.

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