The Genesee Riverway Trail: Bridging the Best Parts of Rochester

May 30, 2011 at 6:30 am 2 comments

Genesee Riverway Trail

Panoramic View from Pont de Rennes

(Part 1 of 2) “Bike or Die 2011”  Roch Trails Map 2010

It was a sunny 80-degree Saturday and we had just suffered through 5 days of continuous rain. After taking a scythe to the lawn, we were ready to play. I pumped up the bike tires, got our water bottles filled, and stood panting by the door until Charlie was ready to go on my loosely described “fun ride.”

My desire was to ride out to the Genesee Riverway Trail, and show him the newly completed (2010) sections. What I realized en route, is that Rochester has GREAT bridges, many of which we crossed while on the trail, and that the Genesee River perfectly reflects the varied geography that makes this area so gorgeous (literally). (Oh, I also learned that 30 miles is about 5 miles too many for Charlie.)

The Genesee Riverway Trail is an amazing (ongoing) effort which will connect the Barge Canal Path (east/west), with a new trail going north/south along the Genesee River, to Lake Ontario.  It extends through the scenic heart of Rochester, from Genesee Valley Park to downtown, and continues up to Lake Ontario.  It provides pedestrian access to the Genesee River, including its scenic gorge, three waterfalls, eight pedestrian bridges, and eleven parks.

Genesee Riverway Trail

Pedestrian bridge from Brooks Ave area to University of Rochester

The first section of the trail starts in Genesee Valley Park, where the river meets the canal. This first section forms a scenic figure 8 around the river, starting in the park and heading north to the Court Street Bridge (Dinosaur BBQ), with the Ford Street Bridge in the center of the 8. This (9 miles) looping section makes a great beginner ride, as it is relatively free of traffic, and loaded with great spots to enjoy scenic bridge views, colorful restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

The first section is a great beginner ride..

Red route we took, green route might be safer.

At Court Street, you are in downtown Rochester. Here is where we lost and found the trail several times as it winds back and forth across the Genesee River. The views from the bridges downtown are quite spectacular, but trying to follow the trail (as of 2011), requires some knowledge of the local roads or a map.

Genesee Riverway Trail

View of the Court Street Bridge, looking south

Going along the west side of the river on a pedestrian path, we were able to get a close-up view of the Erie Canal Aqueduct, a unique 1842 stone arch canal structure used as subway, railway and roadway.

If you could stay on Saint Paul and go north, you would be taking the most direct route, but it is a one-way street flowing south and not friendly for northerly travelling bikes. One more street east is Clinton (very heavy traffic), a one-way travelling north, and over the river lies State St. either of these would be better than this short section of St Paul.

We relocated a trail sign at Platt Street, via St Paul, and crossed the pedestrian bridge (Pont de Rennes) at High Falls. We continued zigzagging north to cross back over Smith St, Bausch Memorial Bridge, back to St Paul (which is now a 2-way street), and continue to ride north.

Genesee Riverway Trail

Bridge at Lower Falls park

Crossing the most unusual bridge yet, we veered left off St Paul on a steep and winding downhill to the RG&E Station #5, a hydro plant, which spans the river and (during the day), you can ride right across the river on a pedestrian/bike-only bridge, through the power plant. This was the part I wanted to show Charlie — the newest section — Lower Falls Park

Genesee Riverway Trail

Rainbow at Lower Falls

The river water levels were spectacularly high and the falls created a beautiful rainbow. There is an actual park area created in this tiny space, with a picnicking area and several scenic overlooks of the 86 high falls (Rochester’s highest). “Casconchiagon” is a Seneca word describing this area, meaning “river of many falls”.

Genesee Riverway Trail

View of Driving Park bridge from Lower Falls Park

As you ride up a steep slope out of the park, you cross the Driving Park Bridge (also sports scenic views) to arrive at Maplewood Park.

The Driving Park Avenue Bridge was constructed in  1890, by the Rochester Bridge and Iron Works. The bridge is 717 feet long, spanning the 200-foot-deep Genesee River Gorge.  At the time the bridge was built, many mills were located at the Lower Falls as they had been from the early days of settlement.  The quickly flowing water was used for power in gristmills and other types of manufacturing.

(Part 2 Continued next week)


Entry filed under: Activities, Barge Canal, Biking, Finger Lakes, Genesee River, Hiking, New York, New York State Parks, restaurants, Rochester, Trails, Watwrfalls. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Great Pancakes Are All in The Mix Genesee Riverway Trail: Bridging the Best Part of Rochester — Part 2

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lee  |  May 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve been enjoying your blog, Barb. For years Jack and I looked for fun things to do in Rochester – this is one of them for sure. Minus the 30 mile bike ride! Not good for hauling grandchildren and a one-legged woman, but great for picniking and walking and scenery.

    If we ever get back to Skaneatles we’ll have much to chose from to keep ourselves busy as well.

    • 2. Charlie  |  June 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      There’s a great Segue tour you can take from Charlotte up the Genessee Riverway Trail for those of you who are less inclined to bike or die.


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