Here’s an inside secret: the key to thriving during the long winter months is by getting outside. The cold is no obstacle to a good time with the right layers. You can’t go wrong when you’re exploring the snow-covered trails of the Genesee River Valley, where the rest of the world falls away and you’re left with the beauty and simplicity of nature. Here are a few of our favorite places to go in the winter.

Indian Fort Nature Preserve

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A lush forest growing on the banks of the Genesee River hides an ancient secret beneath the snow: the remnants of a Native American settlement dating back 5,500 years. Indian Fort Nature Preserve was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. 

It was once home to a fort and settlement of the Onon:dowa’ga: people, today called Seneca. The palisade (fort) was built around 1500 AD and constructed with two walled structures backed by the high walls of the ravine. You’ll feel the history in the air during your visit as you explore the trails and maybe find a hidden waterfall!

MacKay Wildlife Preserve

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The preserve is the perfect place to take a quiet walk in the winter woods hearing only the sound of crunching snow under your boots. The pathways feel natural, like trails the deer had created on their search for food and water; paths of least resistance. The MacKay Wildlife Preserve is located on the west side of the southern end of Spring Street just outside the Village of Caledonia. The preserve is well marked and has an off-street parking area.

Harriet Hollister Spencer Recreation Area

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Just south of Honeoye Lake, Harriet Hollister Spencer Recreation Area has some of the best lake views available in LivCo. This park is dense woodlands with steep hills boasting over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Your effort is rewarded with views of the skyline of Rochester or (on a clear day) the distant shores of Lake Ontario in the north. In addition to the best views around, this park also has over 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Hemlock-Canadice State Park

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It’s easy to forget Livingston County lies on the edge of the Finger Lakes region, but you're reminded of it when you visit Hemlock-Canadice State Park. The park is 6,500 acres of pristine woods between the shores of two of the smaller Finger Lakes, Hemlock and Canadice. Both lakes are undeveloped, giving you 14 miles of trails, both paved and dirt, to explore. In these woods, you may be lucky enough to see some of our wild companions, like white-tailed deer, beavers, and wild turkeys. Just a few black bears remain here, but they’re notoriously shy (and likely hibernating!)