Chimney Bluffs State Park
Introduction: Chimney Bluffs State Park is located in Wolcott, NY and offers stunning views of Lake Ontario. The park gets its name from the stunning bluffs along the North end drumline, developed over thousands of years.
Highlights: Take in the stunning views of Lake Ontario and the eroded cliff edges after taking a relaxing walk through the woods and then visit nearby Sodus Point for some family fun, great food, and a lighthouse.
Leave No Trace (hiking etiquette)
Located in Wolcott, NY, Chimney Bluffs State Park is a frequently visited destination that attracts visitors because of it’s erosion crafted bluffs. If you take the trails leading above you will get stunning views of Lake Ontario and the bluffs above, or walk along the shoreline below and you will get some great views of the bluffs from below.
Lake Ontario was formed as a result of a continental glacier that melted 12,000 years ago. The bluffs are located along the Northeran end of a glacier made hill called a drumline and reach up to 150ft. in some places. The chimney bluffs were formed as a result of thousands of years of waves splashing against the drumline and causing the soil to washout as well as erosion from wind, rain, and snow. At present time the shoreline continues to recede as much as three to five feet yearly.
Another piece of interesting history, during the Prohibition, the Chimney Bluffs were used as an area where Canadian smugglers dropped off liquor that would be collected and stored for selling.
Find More Information Here
Address: 7700 Garner Road, Wolcott, NY 14590
Hours: Open daily year round from dawn to dusk
Cost: $5 per vehicle from April 1st to October 31st. You can also use the Empire Pass for entrance, the New York State park pass that allows you entrance into New York State Parks free of charge (the pass is a one time payment of $80).
Contact Information: (315) 947-5205
Maps: You can find downloadable maps on the Chimney Bluffs website as well as a digital map for your phone.
Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Grilling, Picnics, Bird Watching, and Snowmobiling/Snowshoeing in Winter
Exploring the Park
When you arrive at the park there are two entrance options. The first is located on Garner Road and will give you access to most of the trail heads and a picnic area. There is also bathroom access adjacent to the parking area. We passed the entrance to the East-West Trail and the Bluff Trail while walking along this path, but both were very muddy and inaccessible with small children (if it were just me I would have gone for it!).
The second entrance and parking area is located along East Bay Road and will take you directly below the bluffs. From here you will find a set of stairs leading to a steep hill. While the hill is quite steep, the climb to the top is relatively small, so it is likely doable for people of all hiking abilities (I was able to complete the hike with a five and six year old, the two year old had to be carried up the hill). Once you reach the top you will first come across a single bluff with great views of the lake.
Continue on and you will find more single bluffs along the path until your reach the largest group of bluffs. This is where we ended our walk because the the path got closer to the edge at this point and we did not feel it was appropriate for younger children.
Near the entrance to the stairs leading to the Bluff Trail is a small area along the that gives you some access to the shoreline. There is a bit of a ledge that you have to climb down and we opted not to do this with the kids, but it did make for some good views.
You have four different trails to choose from to explore the wilderness of the park and to view the Bluffs. All of the trails are relatively easy and can be enjoyed by beginning level hikers.
The Bluff Trail
A 1.25 mile long trail that takes you along the edge of the bluffs. The Trail is accessible near the picnic area or via the stairs located on the East Bay Road Entrance. There is a steep inclination on the East Bay Road side with a milder inclination along the other side.
The Drumline Trail
A 0.75 mile long trail that begins on Garner Road, crossing the East-West Trail, and eventually meets the Bluff Trail at the top of the cliffs. (This trail was not accessible when we visited).
Garner Point Trail
The Garner Point Trail is a 0.5 mile trail that begins to the left of the parking area and extends to Garner Point at the shore of Lake Ontario. The Bluff Trail and East-West Trail can be reached along this trail.
The longest trail, a 1.75 mile trail that goes through the park parallel to Garner Road. This trail does not pass by the bluffs, but does have connecting points with the Drumline Trail and ends at East Bay Road, which can be taken down to the stairs leading to the Bluff Trail.
Tips for Visiting
If you are visiting in the Spring time, expect the trails to be VERY muddy. During our visit one of the trails was closed for reconstruction (the Bluff Trail) and the other was inaccessible due to the trail being overrun with huge mud puddles.
Swimming is prohibited in the park. If you walk along the lower levels below the bluffs you will be able to get up close to the water, but going in is not allowed for safety reasons.
Pets are allowed in the park, but must be kept on a leash with a maximum length of 6ft.
Chimney Bluffs State Park is a carry in carry-out park. If bringing anything in be sure to carry it out with you! Do not leave trash behind that can damage the environment. Remember the Leave No Trace guidelines!
One of the most important things to take note if is staying away from the cliff edges. They are unstable and change continuously, so listen to the signs and be careful. You will still get great views!
If you are visiting Chimney Bluffs State Park, you must take the time to visit nearby Sodus Point. Sodus Point is a small village in Wayne County that offers great attractions, great food, and lots of family fun!
1.) Sodus Point Beach Park
The Sodus Point Beach Park is located only twenty minutes from Chimney Bluffs State Park. The park features a beach/swimming area, lighthouse, playground, picnic area, and grills. The park is a great place to spend a summer afternoon and the whole family will enjoy it! End the evening watching the sunset from the lighthouse.
2.) Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum
The Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum sits within the building that was once a lighthouse, destroyed in 1824 during the Civil War, and rebuilt in 1870. Today you can visit the museum, learn about the history, view artifacts, and climb the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse.
3.) Beechwood State Park
Beechwood State Park is a 288 acre state park located along Lake Ontario in Sodus, NY. Beechwood State Park was once home to a girl scout camp that has since been abandoned. However, the remnants of the camp remain and today you can see the remnants on the cabins, a pool, and a number of other buildings. Also within the park you can find great walking trails, fishing sites, and some beach access.
4.) Huckleberry Swamp
Huckleberry Swamp is a fifteen minute drive from Chimney Bluffs State Park and is the perfect destination for a relaxing afternoon walk. The walk through Huckleberry Swamp is a two mile long, easy walk through a nature preserve and wildlife preservation area. You will likely come into contact with a variety of different wildlife species and plant species.
5.) Visit a Vineyard
Sodus Point and the surrounding areas are home to many vineyards along the Lake Ontario Wine Trail. You can spend the day enjoying wine tasting and vineyard tours. Thrope Vineyard is just a five minute drive from Chimney Bluffs State Park if you are looking for something right next door!