Hiking Around Western NY

Great hikes to enjoy with children and family around western NY and the Finger Lakes


October 2016

The Most Painful Hike Yet! Hiking Harriet Hollister Spencer State Rec Area

Entrance to the State Recreation Area

My husband and I, sans children, were looking forward to trying out this park down in Springwater, NY- the Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation area. To be honest, we had never heard of it before, but we must have been the only ones, because it is one of the few places we have hiked where we have run into other hikers (and in this case mountain bikers). We were surprised because the entrance was on a rather secluded road but as soon as we pulled onto the main entrance road into the park, it was apparent why it is so popular! The view alone would be enough for me to visit this park.


Awe-inspiring view of Honeoye Lake


As we got out of the car to enjoy this amazing view of Honeoye Lake, a biker appeared on the trail below us, and told us if we looked carefully we could see the tiny tops of buildings in Rochester, NY which is about 40 miles away! I can only imagine how spectacular this view will be when the foliage is at peak and hopefully I can make it back to share some photos of it.

When you pull into the park, there is nice area with picnic tables and a bathroom (no running water and noted as a comfort station on the trail map) and plenty of parking space to start your hike. As you look at the trail map, we parked and started our hike just past the abandoned shed on C4 (Corridor 4). I was just hiking along, enjoying the forest view, when I suddenly rolled my ankle on the uneven ground. Disclaimer… the trails here are not smooth.. they are uneven and rocky.. but they aren’t difficult to navigate. I tend to be on the clumsy side especially when I’m not paying attention to the terrain.

Luckily, there was a bench right in front of me, so I hobbled over to it and sat, trying to breathe through the pain for a few minutes while my husband hovered around me, saying we needed to pack it up and go home. Well, in what may have been not one of my smarter moves, but definitely one of my stubborn ones, I insisted that we were going to hike the trail with the help of a walking stick my husband found that was perfectly formed for the job.

Entering the main hiking trail.. and the conveniently placed bench.

So for three miles we hiked along one of the wider trails, C4,  to eventually Upper and Lower Sidewinder Trails. It would help to take a map.. while the trails are marked at intersections, there aren’t many markers along the trails themselves and with so many interconnecting mountain biking trails, it was often hard to tell which trail we were actually on.  There are points when the trail is wider and then narrows, there are some long inclines and declines and the trails themselves are by no means manicured. Be prepared to hike through mud, rocks,and  uneven terrain with dips and holes (!) but also be ready to enjoy some beautiful wooded views, wildlife and the peace and quiet of the deep woods. If you are a biker, this is a popular spot with many trails… as well as cross-country skiing. snow-shoeing and snowmobiling trails.

A wider portion of one of the trails

Would I take children? I probably wouldn’t navigate far into the woods with younger children, but older children would be able to handle the hike.. and a comfort station at the beginning and end of the trail is an added perk! Also… something to consider… hunting is allowed in this management area, so I’d use common sense when hiking during hunting season.

As for my ankle.. I ended up finishing the hike, going for x-rays and finding out that I had an avulsion fraction, where the ligament tears away from the ankle bone and takes some bone chip with it. Needless to say, my hiking days are on hold for awhile!


     Down in Southern Livingston County/Allegheny County  is a great place to hike –Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management area.  It is situated 8 miles west of Dansville, NY and is comprised of over 5000 acres of upland used mainly for wildlife management. But it is a great place to hike with children or if you are a beginning hiker because the trails are wide and flat and easy to follow. It is also fairly isolated and we didn’t see any other hikers on the gorgeous late summer day when we decided to hike

At the start of the trail. The paths stayed this size throughout most of the hike.

When you first arrive, you will go down a small dirt road with places to pull off and park head out on the trails. There are about 10 parking areas along Ebert Road (small, barely two cars wide dirt road) to choose from marked with a Trail marker at the beginning. We chose the 4th parking area and headed out on this nice wide path. 

We really enjoyed this trail. On a day when we didn’t want to get in a strenuous hike, it was perfect. You meander up hill and down, into the woods, meadows, by and between various ponds and thankfully, we even came to an outhouse which is invaluable when you are hiking with kids.  (Outhouse is a great word for it.. nothing fancy here!)

Here we are less then a mile into our hike at the first pond we came to.


The trail will eventually loop you back to Ebert Road but you’ll have to walk up the road a little to get to the parking area that you started in. 

When heading into this management area, I’d recommend printing off a trail map because although there was one on the large wooden board at the start of one trail, I like to have one handy with me when I’m hiking, especially if I have children with me.  I definitely would love to go back and hopefully see wildlife because besides birds, we didn’t see any on this trip. But in the area there is beaver, mink, raccoon, and yes… rattlesnakes but don’t let that keep you from hiking. The timber rattlers prefer the remote areas since they are as shy of us as we are of them. 14292250_10210556446855344_4840577784320185405_n

We had a great day hiking and the ride through the countryside was equally lovely. 


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