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An Outdoor Gem Awaits In The Rolling Hills of Genesee County

by Doug Sitler

One visit is all it takes to discover that Genesee County Park, Forest & Interpretive Center is one of Western New York’s outdoor treasures.

Genesee County Park and Interpretive Center

Quietly residing in the rolling hills 15 minutes outside of Batavia and LeRoy, NY, is an outdoor wilderness playground for visitors of all ages. Looking for a vigorous hike or a relaxing encounter with nature, Genesee County Park & Forest has it all. The park’s splendid four-season hiking trail system, an educational forest interpretive center, experiential special events, and picnic areas makes this place worth the trek. It is one of Western New York’s outdoor secrets. Visit year-round, the hours of operation are May - Sept: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct - April: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Genesee County Park & Forest is special, as it was New York State’s first designated County Forest in 1915. In the spring, summer and autumn months the 431-acre park is alive with hikers, picnickers, and wildlife spotters. The park’s 10 miles of trails are suitable for hikers of all skill and fitness levels. Guests never know what interesting animals they may encounter along the way. There are several picnic pavilions and playgrounds throughout the park. The park is very active, and yet visitors often feel that they have the place to themselves. “Crowded” is a word that is never used in describing this delightful destination.

The beautiful Interpretive Nature Center is a destination all in itself.

It is a great place to start any visit to the park, especially for first-time visitors. Open on most Thursdays through Sundays throughout the year, the center has several displays of the different wildlife that live in Western New York. Kids love visiting the Discovery Zone room, which is filled with interesting educational activities about nature. A favorite display amongst visitors is the real live honey bee nest, safely protected behind glass. A knowledgeable volunteer is on-hand to answer questions about the park and wildlife. The nature center, parking lot provides easy access to several trails and picnic areas.

The Park’s exceptional year-round educational programming is another feature that makes Genesee County Park & Forest special.

Over 20 educational and experiential programs for people of all ages are hosted the park’s top-notch staff. Visitors can go on the “Full Moon Owl Prowl,” exploring the secret world of owls in the forest under a full moon. The “Amphibian Adventure” gets attendees up-close to our slimy singing neighbors and pest-eating pals. All of the programs are very inexpensive, with usually a $5 per person or $10 per family fee.

The park is especially fun to visit in the winter months, with opportunities for snowshoeing, and select trails open for snowmobiles and horse riding. A nice toboggan hill is situated in the pine trees, just a short pine cone’s throw away from the nature center’s parking lot.

Outdoor adventurists can find other nearby destinations that can add to a full-day of fun.

There are kayaking opportunities at nearby Dewitt Recreation Area, the East Pembroke Canoe/Kayak Launch or at the John T. O’Brien Canoe Launch at Kiwanis Park. An abundance of hiking trails await at the 950-mile Finger Lakes Trail - which crosses Genesee County, Darien Lakes State Park or the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. The LeRoy Barn Quilt Trail gets participants out into the countryside for a unique driving tour. Over 100 barn quilts are displayed on local buildings, with each quilt’s design telling a story about the location or a local family.

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