Chimney Bluffs State Park in Western New York features some dramatic rock formations along the shore of Lake Ontario thanks to a large glacier and plenty of erosion.
With great views, miles of hiking trails, and a beach, it’s easy to spend an afternoon or even a whole day at the park!
In the winter, you can cross country ski, snow-shoe, and go snowmobiling.
Basic Information on Chimney Bluffs State Park
The nearest major cities are Rochester and Syracuse, which are both around an hour away from the park.
For the most up to date information, including hours of operation, parking prices, and tail closures visit the official website.
As of June 2020, the park is open from dawn till dusk and charges $5 per vehicle for parking from April 1 through October 31.
There are two parking lots; the main one has nicer restrooms and is where maps will take you when you type in “Chimney Bluffs State Park”. There’s a second one that is right next to the entrance to the beach and a steep trail up to the scenic part of the Bluff Trail.
The beach parking lot did not have a terminal to pay for parking so if you want to save $5, park there. The address for this parking lot is 8009 E Bay Rd, Wolcott, NY 14590.
There is a large grassy area with a nice lake view near the main parking lot with some picnic benches. This could be a nice place to eat lunch before your hike.
As of June 2020, the Bluff Trail still appears to be closed, so you will have to take the detour to reach the scenic rock formations that make this park worth visiting. There should be a small sign marking the detour, which is just a combination of the East-West Trail and the Drumlin Trail.
How to reach the bluffs
Hike along the East-West Trail until you reach the intersection with the Drumlin Trail. Turn left and continue up north along the Drumlin Trail until you reach the scenic viewpoint.
Once you reach this viewpoint, you can continue for a little bit to the right to get some good views. Some parts of the trail look pretty unstable so use caution! There’s also a slightly wider trail set back a few feet away from the edge, although the views aren’t as clear.
It might be tempting to try to clamber down one of the tiny paths down to the beach but there is a much easier way to reach the beach if you follow the trail to the left! I was so confused at how people were getting down there but it just takes a little more hiking.
Once you’ve hiked far enough to the right to get the full view of the bluffs, turn around and head all the way to the left to reach the beach access parking lot. There’s a very steep hill down to the parking lot so be careful not to slip on the smooth dirt! I was grateful for the tread on my hiking shoes as I watched a guy in smooth slides struggle to stay upright.
The beach is entirely made of rocks, some smooth, some not. Swimming is not permitted since there are no lifeguards. However, no one is going to stop you if you take a dip in the lake.
Sit on one of the larger rocks or set up a towel and enjoy a snack and the lake breeze!
Once you are done lounging on the beach, head back up to the trail and return to the parking lot. You can take the same trail back or walk along the road for a different view.
If you are looking for something to do after your hike, Thorpe Vineyard is only five minutes away and has good reviews on Google! I am not yet 21, so I can’t vouch for it.
Have you visited Chimney Bluffs State Park? If so, comment anything I may have missed that you think is worth doing!
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