IF YOU’RE ITCHING TO GET OUTSIDE, don’t worry, we suggest enjoying the great outdoors with the latest trend in recreation: soft hiking. As a hub for exciting outdoor recreation, even the least adventurous people won’t be stuck with nothing fun to do in LivCo. Embrace nature and beat cabin fever by soft hiking along one of the many gardens, parks, and trails throughout the region. Soft hiking makes outdoor recreation more accessible for travelers of all skill levels and abilities, making the outdoors more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse. The entire point is to turn hiking into something that’s uniquely suited to your wants and needs, something for every type of nature-seeker and outdoor enthusiast.


What is Soft Hiking?

No, it’s not just going for a walk. It’s a little more like forest bathing, which is a mindfulness practice that takes place outdoors. Soft hiking keeps all the most enjoyable parts of hiking — being out in nature, seeing amazing natural sights, getting your steps in — and removes all tougher aspects of hiking, like trying to get to the top of a peak as quickly as you can, or pushing yourself to the limit as your aching, sweating limbs protest.

When soft hiking, you take it easy. You go slow. You don’t push yourself harder than you feel you need or want to. You allow yourself to be present and to truly enjoy your surroundings. Don’t want to go to the end of the trail? You don’t have to. Want to just go half-way? That’s totally fine.

There’s no need to buy fancy or special equipment for soft hiking. So long as you have clothing that’s comfortable and safe for the trail you’ve chosen, anything will work. You’ll want to bring plenty of water and some nourishing food on your hike, if it’s on the longer side, but don’t feel like you need to buy special equipment or fancy hiking foods to enjoy your day. Focus on picking the items that will make your body and soul feel good.

There’s likewise no need to pick a trail of a certain difficulty, or a trail that’s deemed more “worthwhile” or “best.” Pick the trail or hiking experience that’s right for you, your skill level and your interests. Maybe you’re not keen on hiking to a lookout, for example, and would instead rather take a leisurely hike to a point of historic interest.


Here's where to try soft hiking in Livingston County.

Tennent Park

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Very conveniently located, Tennet Park in Caledonia provides access to Matthews Trail, which offers a short and easy soft hiking experience that’s just a half-mile long. The trail follows Spring Creek and provides a nice opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, while never being too far from civilization.

Highland Park

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Highland Park, in Geneseo, offers a range of amenities, including a dog park, fitness loop, playground, and sports courts. If you’d like to incorporate a little historic intrigue into your soft hike, stop by the park’s former Erie Railroad Depot, which was built in the late 1800s.

Vitale Park

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Vitale Park on the shores of Conesus Lake is a can’t-miss, with its memorial garden, playground, and fishing access. Take in the views and enjoy an easy lap around the park.


Couple at Vitale Park

Papermill Park

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If you’d like to visit one of our many rushing waterfalls in the spring, consider a quick stop at Papermill Park in Avon. A 30-foot-wide waterfall awaits, easily viewable after just a short hike from the parking lot.

Linwood Gardens

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Since it’s not open year-round, it’s worth making the trip to Linwood Gardens for the Tree Peony Festival. Make your reservation in advance and wander the grounds to take in the property’s original landscape, designed in the early 1900s, with pools, fountains, and ornamental trees. It’s the perfect place to soft hike if you prefer a more cultivated space.


People at Linwood Gardens

Al Lorenz Park

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Minutes from downtown Mount Morris, Al Lorenz Park is an 80-acre park is a hidden gem, with trails, ponds, bridges and pavilions that are secluded and peaceful. There’s a playground for the kiddos too, so you can stop by if you’re on a family trip to enjoy the peace and quiet at this underrated spot.


Man and son at Al Lorenz Park

Hemlock Lake Park

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LivCo is filled with shorefront and waterscapes, so don’t miss the chance to soft hike near one of our many lakefronts at Hemlock Lake Park. Bring your fishing poles and throw out a line, if that’s your thing. Otherwise, just enjoy the water views.

Avon Driving Park

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Avon Driving Park offers all of the amenities you need to work up a sweat while enjoying your favorite sporting activity, whether that be baseball, basketball, pickleball, or volleyball. If you want to soft hike, you’ll find that you can easily do so while enjoying the park’s historic appeal, as the grounds were previously a sulfur spring health spa.

Bellamy Park

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Bellamy Park offers historic appeal, as it’s named after past Mount Morris resident Francis Bellamy, who penned the Pledge of Allegiance. This community park is right in town, so it’s an easy stop if you’re busy exploring the rest of the village and want to get your steps in.

Pack a Picnic for Your Perfect Hike

No matter which of our favorite soft hiking spots you head to during your LivCo excursion, consider bringing along a scrumptious picnic. Our region boasts a variety of delis, country stores, sandwich shops, and specialty grocery stores to outfit your picnic basket with everything you’ll need for a yummy meal out in the open. Try Six Sprouts Farm Market in Avon, The Valley Shop in Nunda, Honeygirl Gourmet in Geneseo, Wendy’s Pantry & Country Mouse Tea House in Mount Morris, or Shoreless Acres General Store in Livonia.


Kids Picnic


If you’d prefer not to plan your own picnic, though, Letchworth Valley Picnics can help. The pop-up picnic providers offer picnic experiences in the region, where all you have to do is show up, and they craft the most magical picnic for you to enjoy without lifting a finger. However you pull together your picnic for your hiking adventure, remember to bring the necessities you’ll need like utensils, condiments, and something to sit on, whether that be a beach blanket or any quilt you don’t mind spreading out on the ground. Be sure to pack some fun activities as well, such as lawn games, and be sure that you leave no trace of your experience. Whatever you pack in, be sure to pack it right back out.