Mountain Trails Nearby

by Sue Freeman

Yes, you can drive to the Adirondacks or Catskills to find mountains to climb. Or, for a real treat, head above tree-line in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. But what if you don’t have multiple days to spare? What if you want an aerobic hill climb without the expense of driving far? You’re in luck. There are trails nearby that will get your heart pounding and maybe even give you a view. In our guidebooks, we call them 4-booters.

When Rich & I finished our 6-month thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and began writing guidebooks, we needed a scale for ranking the ruggedness of each hike. So, we took my well-worn hiking boot, inked up its bottom and made an impression on paper. With the magic of copier reductions and old-fashioned cut and paste technology, we created 4 icons to use in our guidebooks. One boot print meant an easy, flat trail. Two boot prints meant a slightly hillier trail, and the ultimate 4-booter meant an aerobic workout from steep, hilly, or rugged terrain. We used these same four boot print icons in all of our Footprint Press guidebooks.

Among the 4-booters you’ll find the Horizon Hill Section of Crescent Trail in Perinton. Climb this hill for a view of the Rochester skyline to the north. Four boots doesn’t always mean up. Follow the Seth Green Trail for a steep down from Seth Green Drive in Rochester to the shore of the Genesee River. Along the way, you’ll pass Norton’s Falls where Norton’s Creek free-falls for 15 feet from a large cap-rock, then cascades for another 20 feet over sloped shale. Go after a rainstorm for a special visual experience. For additional steep climbs down with waterfall views, head to Seneca Park and follow the trails down to the Genesee River shore to view Zoo Falls and Zoo Cascade. Of course, a steep climb down to the river also means you’ll have a steep climb back up.

Naples has Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area where I guarantee your heart will pound, especially climbing up the Bristol Hills Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail from Route 245. This trail switchbacks up the steep slope of Hatch Hill under the shade of a mature forest. Less than a mile away on Route 245 you can climb the trail at Conklin Gully (a.k.a. Parish Glen) to approach Hi Tor from another angle. Conklin Gully sports 120-foot-high Angel Falls and several other waterfalls. The trail makes a loop, heading uphill on one side of the gully and downhill on the far bank, crossing over on top of the Hi Tor plateau where the gully is a shadow of its lower-elevation self.

True gems for this region are the trails at Chimney Bluffs State Park in Wayne County. Climb to the edge of cliffs along the shore of Lake Ontario where eons of wind and water action have sculpted a glacial drumlin into unique spires. Or, go south for the panoramic view of Canandaigua Lake nestled in the valley that you get from climbing the trail at Onanda Park on the western shore of Canandaigua Lake. Finally, if you want to commune with nature undisturbed, head to little-used Bear Trail that hugs the western slope of Hemlock Lake.

I’ve just touched the surface of possibilities. There are numerous places in this region to go for a hike and get an aerobic workout at the same time. Just pick out the 4-booters. They can be found in the guidebooks “Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester Area,” and “Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region,” both available at or call 1-800-431-1579.

HOME to Footprint Press