Guide to Winter Hiking with Kids in the Finger Lakes in 2021

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

Taughanock Falls State Park in the Winter
Frozen Landscape at Taughanock Falls
Frozen River Bed at Taughahock Falls
Taughanock Falls State Park Scenic View
Frozen River Bed

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. 

For more on Onanda Park, click here.

Snow Covered frozen creek at Onanda Park
Animal Prints in the snow on a log
Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes
Frozen Leaves and Branches at Canandaigua Lake

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.  

For more on the Finger Lakes National Forest, hikes and current conditions, click here. 

Snowy field and tree in Finger Lakes National Forest
trail at Finger Lakes National Forest
Racoon prints in the snow

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! 

For more on Chimney Bluffs State Park, click here.

Snowy Hike through the Forest
Chimney Bluffs State Park overlooking Lake Ontario
Caution sign covered in grafitti at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park in the Winter
Warning Sign at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Steps leading up at Chimney Bluffs
Snow covered beach on Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario Beach in the Snow
Snowy Scene at Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario Beach in the Winter
Wintery Lake Ontario Beach
Fallen tree at lake ontario beach

Looking for more winter hiking destinations?

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