Year-Round Outdoor Opportunities
Genesee County, NY offers outdoor enthusiasts year-round opportunities for fun, courtesy of Mother Nature! If you're looking to learn more about our hot spots, you're in the right place.
Explore New York State’s largest Wildlife Refuge
Described as, “one of the best kept secrets in Western New York,” the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge has a state-of-the-art visitor center and over 10,000 acres to explore. Criss-crossed by public trails, it provides easy access to viewing areas and scenic stops. Birdwatchers rejoice as the refuge is home to at least 266 bird species, including bald eagles. Enjoy the outdoors year-round with activities like hunting, fishing, hiking and canoeing. The refuge is home to over 42 species of mammals, plus reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects—so you’re sure to experience nature during your visit! In the winter months, grab some friends and cross-country ski or snowshoe the trails—perfect for enthusiasts and beginners alike!
Nationally Rare, Locally Loved
Genesee County is fortunate to be home to an incredibly unique preserve, the Bergen Swamp. The 2,000-acres are remnant of the ancient glacial Lake Tonawanda, and New York State’s first National Natural Landmark. The swamp includes northern white cedar, pine-hemlock, and beech-maple deciduous forests. It supports a high diversity of plants, with a total of 2,392 species identified, but is especially known for its orchids. It is also rich in breeding birds and has a variety of species that don't breed elsewhere in the Lake Ontario plain, making it a treasure trove for birders. This habitat is unique in New York State and uncommon nationally, with many of the plants rare or endangered. For this reason, visitors are required to stay on the hiking trails that take you through and around the swamp; groups of six or more require advance approval by contacting the caretaker. A guided tour is offered each August, by advance reservation only.
Camp, Kayak, Swim and Fish
Families love to camp at Darien Lakes State Park, the 1,800-acre park that is just 4 miles away from Six Flags Darien Lake Amusement Park. Considered a hidden gem, it offers an abundance of experiences and never feels crowded. The park features 158 camping spots, a 12-acre recreation lake with a small sandy beach, great picnic locations, 19 miles of mountain bike, hiking and horseback riding trails, and even a disc golf course.
The park’s Harlow Lake provides great fishing, and is habitat for Largemouth Bass and Yellow Perch, as well as various species of waterfowl and aquatic life and has daily public access from 6am-10pm for non-motorized watercraft. Something unique to discover is Eleven Mile Creek, which runs through the park and cuts a ravine out of the shale, exposing distinct fossils from the Devonian Era, (also known as the “Age of Fish”) which was 354 million years ago!
Park visitors also enjoy their free summer concert series each Tuesday night June through August. During the winter its multiple-use trails are open for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. It’s the perfect place to spend a day or stay for a few nights.
Visit The Oldest County Forest in New York State
If experiencing multiple trails in one day sounds like your idea of fun, The Genesee County Park, Forest & Interpretive Center is the place for you! The 431-acre park has no less than 20 trails, covering over ten miles of hiking and multi-use trails. While the longest trail is only 2.1 miles, there are several smaller trails that lead hikers to special areas including ponds and forests to explore. The park also features playgrounds, ball fields, a toboggan hill, and picnic pavilions that are available for rent.
The Park’s beautiful post and beam Interpretive Center is located ¼ mile from the entrance, and is host to hundreds of environmental and natural displays. The staff offer a robust year-round calendar of guided hikes and hands-on nature programming that is perfect for families who enjoy spending time together while learning about nature.
During the winter months take in the wonderland of snow-covered trees, ice-covered ponds, and winter wildlife while enjoying a self-guided cross-country ski or snowshoe hike. Snowshoe rentals are available at the interpretive center December-March.
Feel Miles Away, Right in The Heart of The City
Formerly the site of a sand and gravel quarry, this 64-acre site was donated to the county by B.R. DeWitt, Inc. in the 1990’s. In an effort to restore the park to a more natural setting, the county developed the Dewitt Recreation Area for recreation and environmental education. Today, the park is a favorite place for locals and visitors to enjoy nature.
The 38-acre pond offers almost a mile of shoreline to fish for regularly stocked bullhead, largemouth bass, northern pike, crappie and much more. An accessible fishing dock and newly added kayak launch is open to the public and allows you the opportunity to drift the day away observing the sights and sounds of the surrounding wildlife.
Well-maintained, marked trails provide for leisurely strolls or bike rides. In the winter, this is a hot-spot for cross-country skiing. Visitors can also enjoy a playground, access road, parking areas, a picnic shelter with restrooms, public electric, and water & sewer.
This is also an excellent spot to park to explore the newly developed, Ellicott Trail, a new 9.7- mile multi-use recreational trail that has been created by old railroad beds and includes sidewalks, bike lanes and bridges! See page 40 for more information on the Ellicott Trail.