The Finger Lakes area of New York is pretty large region that encompasses a lot of great hiking. We traveled up there in December and stayed in Keuka Park, New York, close to Keuka Lake.
A few things I learned about traveling to the Finger Lakes region of New York during the off-season:
- MANY restaurants are closed in the off-season (and likely even more than usual due to the pandemic)
- The different lake towns are further apart than I realized – many of the hikes we did were about an hour away from our Airbnb.
- Some of the popular trails are closed during the winter. We skipped Watkins Glen State Park altogether because only the overlook spots were open.
That being said, it was amazing to experience the beauty of the Finger Lakes with a winter landscape. It made for unique pictures and interesting experiences. My son is a huge cold weather kid, so he loved all of the ice and snow.
Here are some of the hikes that we did up in the Finger Lakes area of Western New York:
Best Hikes in the Finger Lakes: Taughannock Falls
Located in Taughanock Falls State Park, this is located close to Ithaca and Cayuga Lake. The only trail open in the winter to the falls is the Gorge Trail. The trail itself is very easy – it’s basically just a flat path – but it leads to a gorgeous view of the waterfall.
Seeing the falls in winter was extraordinary. The mist from the waterfall created an icy covering over the plants nearby. This was my son’s favorite.
In the main season, there are rim trails available that look more challenging. For updated information, check the State Park website here.
Winter Hikes in the Finger Lakes: Onanda Park
This park is located near Canandaigua Lake, which is to the left of Keuka Lake. We were able to get a (freezing cold) view of the lake as well as explore some trails in the park. The trail itself is about 1.4 miles and has a few overlooks. We stopped to explore near the creek as well.
Winter Hikes: Finger Lakes National Forest
One of my goals in our trip was to do one hike through Finger Lakes National Forest. We hiked the Burnt Hill Trail Loop, which is about 3.8 miles roundtrip.
This hike was beautiful and very quiet – we saw only one other group. It was relatively flat terrain with not too much incline. It was very icy, though, so we had to walk very carefully.
Best Winter Hikes in Western New York: Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park is technically located on one of the Great Lakes (specifically Lake Ontario), but it’s only about an hour from the area of the Finger Lakes we were staying. It was freezing and super snowy, which made for a really beautiful landscape.
We opted for the loop trail down to the beach. This gave great views of the bluffs from above and below. It’s super windy on the coast, so be sure to bundle up and make sure you have the appropriate gear if you’re planning to do the hike!
Looking for more winter hiking destinations?
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