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New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes
New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes

National Get Outdoors Day

by Jessica Reilly


June 12 is National Get Outdoors Day, and with summer rapidly approaching, the warming weather and longer hours of daylight are the perfect excuse to spend some time in the sun (or the shade). With so many ways to enjoy the fresh air, you’ll want to stay outside all summer long. Hike, bike, kayak, canoe or just explore- it’s your adventure!

Middle Falls & Genesee Arch Bridge at Letchworth State Park - Photo by KB.Hikes

Hit the Trails

Whether you prefer paved paths or dirt roads, celebrate getting outside and getting moving!

Wind your way through the heart of Batavia on the Ellicott Trail. This 10-mile trail is paved or stone packed for easy access. Explore old railroad tracks, a historic cemetery, open green spaces and the Tonawanda Creek. The solid trail surface makes it kid and stroller friendly, perfect for a day out with the family or a leisurely hike, bike or run. Only parts of this trail are dog friendly, so check before you bring your furry friend. 

For thru-hikers and bikers looking for their next conquest, the Genesee Valley Greenway is 90 miles of trail just waiting to be explored. The Greenway starts in downtown Rochester and follows a former canal and railroad path south through Letchworth State Park and then along Black Creek, ending just north of the Pennsylvania border. The Greenway takes you through a variety of habitats, including forests, wetlands, stream valleys, farmland, and gorges. The majority of the trail is on the old railway bed, and is straight and level with a few paved paths, dirt trails, and road sections. Along the way, you can see canal locks, railway bridges, and the only surviving canal warehouse.

Genesee Valley Greenway Trail

Further south, the WAG Trail is a well-kept local secret for anglers that doubles as an ideal hiking and biking trail. The 9-mile trail takes its name from the railroad bed it covers, the WAG Railroad. The WAG trail is level with little incline or decline, making it easily navigable for all skill levels. Fishing and horseback riding are also allowed on this multi-use trail.

WAG Trail - Photo by pwoughter

Spend some time on the water

A Fresh Air Adventure means getting outdoors your way!

The Genesee River is instrumental to the habitats of the counties that compose your Fresh Air Adventure. See this great waterway up close and personally along the Genesee River Blueway. Perfect for kayakers and canoe lovers, the Blueway runs from the mouth of Lake Ontario down to the Pennsylvania border. Visitors can find easiest access and the best trail sections along the Upper Genesee with river access sites throughout Livingston. Wyoming and Allegany County. Because the Genesee runs south to north, the upper sections of the river are in the southern end of the state.

If a smaller waterway is more appealing to you, head out on the Erie Canal and take a trip down the waterway that changed the nation. The Erie Canal Boat Company makes it easy to rent a kayak or canoe and get on the water. They even have adaptive kayaking equipment for differently-abled individuals so everyone is able to explore the towns and villages that line the canal! Public access boat launches make it easy for boaters to explore as well.

Or head out on the Oak Orchard River, a favorite spot for the locals to canoe and kayak. Oak Orchard Canoe & Kayaks makes it easy to rent equipment, get on the water, and even take a lesson! Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or just boarding for the first time, the gentle waters of the Oak Orchard River are the perfect place to practice. If stand-up paddle boarding sounds like more fun, they have rentals for that too.

For less working out and more relaxing, stop by Captain’s Cove in Waterport for a pontoon boat rental. Head out onto the Oak Orchard River and let the day pass you by as you ride the waves, enjoy the sun, and soak up everything the river life has to offer. Captain’s Cove can also rent rowboats, motorboats, canoes and kayaks, so you can always find a boat that’s your speed!

Recharge in the Forest

Breathe a little easier surrounded by the peace and serenity of the forest (and the pinene in the trees).

It’s always a good time to get outdoors at Letchworth State Park. This stunning gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of the East, offers sweeping views of the Genesee River and 3 major waterfalls. With over 66 miles of trails available for hiking, biking, running, and horseback riding, you’ll want to spend the entire day soaking up the sun and basking in the fresh forest air! Keep an eye out for birds circling the wind tunnels over the gorge- the park is home a variety of endangered bird species.

Letchworth State Park - Photo by Ace Photography

Tucked in North Java, the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center is a hidden woodland gem. Spanning over 320 acres, visitors can explore meadows, glacial ponds, wetlands, an arboretum, and 8 miles of marked trails. Don’t forget to stop at the Hawk Watch to spot a raptor in the air. No visit is complete without a stop the Visitor’s Center, home to a variety of indoor exhibits to get to know the local plants and animals who call this place home, as well as a children’s discovery room and observation windows.

Beaver Meadow Audubon

As the oldest county forest in the state, the Genesee County Park and Forest Interpretive Center in East Bethany is the perfect place to celebrate getting outdoors. Start your visit at the Interpretive Center, where you can get to know the local flora and fauna and even catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. Visitors have been known to spy deer, rabbits, and turkeys from the back porch. Then, head out on the 431 acres of trails that span rolling hills, lush open green spaces, scenic woodlands, and idyllic water habitats. Feel the stress melt away as you’re surrounded by fresh air and natural greenery!

Genesee County Park Interpretive Center - Photo by Mark Gutman

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