Rochester, New York City Guide
Rochester, NY City Guide

© 1996-2015 Max Lent Communications




Cross-country Ski Information

for Rochester, NY, and the surrounding region

Your comments, suggestions, and additions are welcome. Let me know if you find the directory useful. Max Lent

Also Rochester Area Parks and Rochester Area Park Maps.
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Novice Intermediate Expert Expert Symbol Warming hut warming hut RefreshmentsCup Ski rentals

The following list is alphabetical order

Durand Eastman Park Expert Symbol

Location: Northeast Rochester, along the shore of Lake Ontario in Irondiquoit. The northern boundary is Lake Shore Blvd. Kings Hwy. runs through the center of the park. The eastern side of the park is accessed by Sweet Fern Rd.  Google map.

Description: From long, steep, curving downhill runs to open meadow skiing, Durand Eastman Park has great skiing for skiers of all skill levels. There are miles of crisscrossing ungroomed trails providing a full day of excellent skiing and beautiful landscape.

Comment: Durand Eastman Park was in the news in recent years because of the various attempts to reduce the park's deer population. Homeowners and animal rights activists have fought fierce legal battles over the issue of whether, or how, to kill the park's deer. During the winter cross-country skiers may wish that a law was on the books to control the dog population of the park. Dogs and their owners are frequently seen ruining ski trails. The dogs chase off what little wildlife that remains in the park. The result of the unleashed dogs roaming the park in the winter is damaged ski tracks and dog feces on the trails. Skiing down some of the steep hillsides can be dangerous if there are unleashed dogs below. Dogs will run to or chase skiers causing dangerous situations.

There is a large sledding area on the west side of the park. Skiers should stay clear of the sledding area.

The best time to ski Durand Eastman Park is during extreme weather. The dogs and their owners are gone and new snow covers their damage. On extreme weather days, the park can be spectacularly beautiful.

For skiers, the best entrance to the park is from the east side or the northeast. These entrances are less heavily used than the west entrances near the sled hills.

What is missing from Durand Eastman Park is a warming hut. If this park were in Europe it would have a warming hut with a deck. Inside, skiers could purchase drinks and interesting foods and lounge by a roaring fire.

More about Durand-Eastman Park

Ellison Park

Location: North central Rochester.  Google Map.

Description: Although it is located in the middle of a densely populated area of the city, relatively few skiers frequent the park except on weekends. No groomed trails.

Comment: The skiable area of Ellison Park is smaller than Durand Eastman or Webster Parks. There are sledding hills to watch out for, but the rest of the park can be sublimely peaceful and nearly empty at times. The stream running through the center of the park can be beautiful when the weather turns very cold.

Genesee Valley Park

Location: South central Rochester. West of West Henrietta Rd. and East of East River Rd. South of Elmwood Ave. and North of Critteden Road.  Google Map.

Description: Genesee Valley Park is divided into three sections. North of East River Road the park is divided into a golf course and an area with baseball diamonds. South of East River Road the park is all golf course. This is an excellent park for beginning skiers. It is mostly flat, although there are a couple of little hills to practice on. The trails are set by whomever shows up first. By midmorning on weekends after a good snowfall there are usually trails set around and through the entire park.

Comment: The most aesthetically pleasing part of the park is the golf course area south of East River Road. Skiing along the outside edges of the park is a pleasant outing. This area is ideal for moonlight skiing. It is located in to the city, but is open enough to give the impression of wilderness.

After a stretch of very cold weather Red Creek and even the Genesee River will freeze over which makes for beautiful winter scenery.  If you see areas of trampled snow with leaves turned up, you are probably seeing a resting place for deer.  In the middle of the park there are ponds and wet areas that should be avoided when the air temperature is at or above freezing.  It's possible to ice up your skis while passing through these areas.  The remainder of you ski will be unpleasant as you lift several pounds of ice with every step.




Mendon Ponds Park

Expert Symbol

Alert! 2/05.  There have been reports of car break ins at Mendon Ponds park.  If you park and ski, lock your valuables in your car trunk or just don't leave anything valuable in your car.

Location: Ponds Road at Clover St., Honeoye Falls, NY 14472. 585-334-3780. South of Rochester between Clover St. and Pittsford Mendon Center Rd and south of the New York State Thruway. Canfield Rd. cuts through the northern boundary. Douglas Rd. cuts through the center of the park. Pond Road cuts through the southern boundary of the park. Mendon Center Rd. at the southern edge of the park permits access to a less crowded area of the park.  Google Map

Description: The terrain of Mendon Ponds Park provides just about every possible kind of cross-country skiing condition imaginable. There are large open flatland trails, steep hilly  runs, and some areas that are a gentle mixture of both.

Comment: By Rochester standards Mendon Ponds Park is heavily used, especially on weekends. Schools hold cross-country ski races on trails in the eastern region of the park. Because of its proximity to growing suburbia to the north it is frequented by large numbers of weekend skiers. Expect to have to step out of the tracks frequently to allow other skiers to pass. Parking space can sometimes be in short supply near the sledding hill in the center of the park. It is best to park at the extreme north or south ends of the park ski towards the center. Be careful to avoid the damp areas near the shores of the ponds. Even on very cold days the pond side trails will be wet. The water will freeze onto your skis making skiing almost impossible and certainly not enjoyable.

This park pits dog owners, horseback riders, and skiers against each other. There are sections of the park where dogs and horses are not allowed. These areas are part of a nature reserve. It is not uncommon to see dogs without leashes chasing wildlife in the reserve area as their owners look on. If you approach dog owners to inform them they are in a protected area, you will probably receive a lecture on how dogs need open areas too. Expect no guilt or remorse. In these same areas, the telltale hoof prints of horses are also common. The park appears to have no patrols or even a telephone number to call to report trespassers, especially on weekends. The increasing population density of the suburbia growing up around Mendon Ponds Park will eventually destroy its charm and chase away what little wildlife that remains. On the bright side, the increasing number of sophisticated suburban visitors will probably force the management of the park to open warming huts and winter food concessions.






Reader Comment 12/00:

"As a Park Employee, Groomer and Nordic Ski Coach and designer of much of the 10km ski trail I would like to bring you up to date on several items you mention.

Item 1.  Several years ago we (X-C group) sat down with the local horse men and women and set up standards for the winter months.  The 10 km trail system often referred to as the race trail is closed to horses Dec.15-March 15th.  This area runs between Canfield, Douglas, Pond and Mendon Center roads. (Eastern part of park) Signs are posted stating such.  There are maps of this area at the park office and at several other locations throughout the park.  One way skiing and no dogs are allowed in this area.  This area is groomed as snow requires.  Trail heads are at the North end along Canfield (North Meadow) or in the middle (West Meadow) along Douglas road-past the sledding hill. Horses not allowed.




Item.  2  We also groom behind the Cobblestone House known as the Cobblestone House Crierium Field (west of Douglas and south of Canfiled roads) This gives us another 3 kms of nice wide open meadow (western) type skiing. Horses not a problem here/plenty of additional room for them.  Item 3.  When we get enough snow we set tracks for classical skiing around the Quaker Pond trails.  This is accessed from Lookout Shelter parking area, or along pond road.  Approx. 5kms.  Horses not allowed here Item 4.  When snow allows we try and set additional tracks for the classical skiers from the Cobblestone fields-Stewert Lodge fields-boat launch road (which is closed for the winter) as well as the fields across from the West Meadow and across from Calvary Lodge as well.  This gives us another 7.5kms of classical skiing.  A few small connector trails (multiple use) may get light horse traffic. 

Item 5.  When we get heavy snow we also set tracks across from the dog kennel (south of Pond Road) which link up with the Quaker Pond Trails.  This gives us yet another 5-7.5kms of set tracks.  This area may get horse traffic as it is multiple use trails but we have them wide enough for both.  Note-All our tracks are double set.  We also have lots of Back Country Skiing that we do not groom throughout the Park.  In fact we have just cut a new trail directly across from the entrance to the Nature Center Driveway that will access skiers and snow shoers to the grass land fields between clover street and Devil’s bath tub area.

Item 5.  The dog issue is one of continued education.  Each skier must leave their dog at home.  New skiers that come to ski may not know this rule.  The Park Staff and Park Guards are continually telling people that we see with dogs.  It is no where near the problem it once was.  But, we all have to work together to educate the public on this matter.  Just like skiing the proper direction on the 10km trail.

Hope this will be of help to you and your readers as we are working hard to make Mendon Ponds a nice place to Cross Country Ski.

Thanks and Happy Holidays

Roger Weston"

Powder Mills Park

Location: Perinton, NY. From Rochester, take Interstate 490 to Bushnell's Basin. Turn left, south, on Pittsford-Victor Rd. Turn right on Park Rd.  Google Map.

Description: Miles of ungroomed trails extend throughout the park.

Comment: Powder Mill Park has many beautiful trails. When covered with snow the trails can become a winter wonderland. The skiing is easy and the scenery pretty. What more can one ask of a trails so close to Rochester.

Seneca Park

Location: Western Irondequoit. The entrance is the same as the Seneca Park Zoo, which is off of St. Paul St. north of Ridge Rd. The turnoff is Parkwood. Follow Parkwood into the park as far as is permitted. Start your ski at the end of the road going into the park. Continue north. The trail will end at a fence near a neighborhood called the Flats.  Google Map

Description: Seneca Park is across the Genesee River from one of Eastman Kodak's plants. The trail, which usually starts near the Seneca Park Zoo parking lot, offers several miles of novice skiing along the cliffs above the Genesee River.

Comment: Seneca Park is well worth visiting for its easy skiing and spectacular views of the Genesee River. Seeing deer along the trail is common, but may not be if the development outside the park continues.

Thousand Acre Swamp

Location: Off of Jackson Rd. North of Atlantic in Penfield, NY.  Google Map

Description: The trails are level and circumnavigate the swamp. An elevated walkway through the center of the swamp can be skied if there is enough snow.

Comment: Thousand Acre Swamp is an oasis of nature surround by suburbia. There are restrictions regarding the use of the park, but most are common sense requests to keep the swamp as pristine as possible.

Reader Comment 1/04:

"Hi, I found your info. on cross-country skiing in the Rochester area informative. I decided to try out the thousand acre swamps with a friend this a.m.  Unfortunately, the drive is not plowed or maintained in the winter.  I found this out the hard way  by starting to drive in and realizing it wasn't such a great idea & got stuck in the snow trying to back out.  I remained stuck there for 2 hours until a tow truck came.  The people who live in the house next to the swamp said this happens on a daily basis to people. They said there should be a sign posted at the entrance to park in Penfield ambulance parking lot.  Just thought you might want to pass this along." Thanks, KA

Webster Park Expert Symbol

Location: Northeast Rochester, along the shore of Lake Ontario. Further east of Rochester than Durand Eastman Park.  Google Map.

Description: Webster Park offers a wide range of ungroomed trails including a few steep trails suitable for advanced skiers. Most of the trails follow gently sloping gullies through forested areas. The trail system is extensive and complex. Skiers without a good sense of direction or who are unfamiliar with the park are advised to purchase a map of the park from a sporting goods store.

Comment: Webster Park has two groups competing for park use, horseback riders and non-horseback riders. During the winter horseback riders and skiers sometimes share the same trails. This results in damaged ski trails and frightened horses. The good news is that there are few of either using the park during extreme weather.



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