Fall view from St. Michael's
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Fall Foliage of Hemlock and Conesus Lakes

Fall Foliage

The fall foliage this year has been magnificent. This being my first year living in the Finger Lakes Region, I can not say if this was an average year or not. Everyone gives top credits to the New England area for fall foliage, but I sure the Finger lakes can beat them out.

Harriet Hollister Recreation Area fall colors fall foliage
Flowers are still in bloom, but some shrubs are starting to change colors in the middle of September at Harriet Hollister Recreation Area
Harriet Hollister Recreation Area Fall foliage close up
Harriet Hollister Recreation Area Fall Foliage close up

Bristol Mountain Ski Resort opens up a chair lift each fall and thousands of people use it to explore the fall foliage from the ride up and from the peaks. I thought about doing it, but, figured it is a waste of money. The view from my window at St Micheal’s is a mountain top view.

Fall view from St. Michael's
Fall view from St. Michael’s

I saw my first glimpse of the leaves at the beginning of September when I was up at the Thousand Islands. Two weeks later, you could see the leaves changing here in the Finger Lakes. My walks in the woods or along the lakeshore revealed an ever-changing palette of colors.

Fall foliage
A view of Hemlock Lake from the East Lake Trail/ Boat Launch Trail

Starting from the north boat launch parking lot, this trail heads south on a wide path for about 1.75 miles. There it continues on a narrow path reaching the south boat launch parking lot a number of miles away.

East Lake trail along Hemlock Lake
The East Lake Trail, along Hemlock Lake, Is wide and is mostly flat. It does have a slight climb but it is hard to notice unless you are looking down at the lake.

Hemlock Lake is a part of the Hemlock-Canadice State forest. Unlike the majority of the other Finger Lakes, there is no development around the lake.

fishing on Hemlock Lake, one of the Finger Lakes
Fishing on Hemlock Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. This photograph was taken a mile from the trailhead at the boat launch. My private beach is across the lake.

Conesus Lake

St Michael’s Mission, where I live, is on the slope above Hemlock Lake. However, it is in the town of Conesus. Conesus Lake is about 4 miles to the west. The difference between the two lakes is hard to comprehend being so close. Conesus Lake has a shoreline that is built up. There are houses along most of the shoreline and in many places, they are just a few feet separating homes. While Hemlock Lake is restricted to human-powered boats and boats 17 feet in length and any motors 10 HP or less, Conesus is not. A nice summer day will see hundreds of boats on Conesus Lake.

fall foliage vitale park lakeview ny
Vitale Park, Lakeview NY sits at the north end of Conesus Lake
Conesus Outlet
Conesus Outlet at Vitale Park

Conesus State Park is about 4 miles from the north end of Conesus Lake. The park is really just a boat launch site and a large parking lot. Kayaks can launch here as well, however, there are four hand launch sites around the like that will be a better choice.

Conesus State Park, Conesus boat launch
Twilight at the Conesus State Park Boat launch
A few homes along the shore of Conesus Lake at the Boat Launch site.
A few homes along the shore of Conesus Lake at the Boat Launch site. Looking north
A few homes along the shore of Conesus Lake at the Boat Launch site. Looking south
A few homes along the shore of Conesus Lake at the Boat Launch site. Looking south
A few homes along the shore of Conesus Lake at the Boat Launch site. Looking south
A few homes along the shore of Conesus Lake at the Boat Launch site. Looking south

Letchworth State Park

Mount Morris Dam
Mount Morris Dam near the north end of Letchworth State Park

Do not have time to take a trip to the Grand Canyon? Then visit the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth State Park. Voted the best state park in the United States and the best attraction in New York, it is a great place to visit any time of the year. However, it really is at its best in the fall.

From the state’s website The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs–as high as 600 feet in some places–surrounded by lush forests. Hikers can choose among 66 miles of hiking trails. Trails are also available for horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

letchworth state prk
A view from the Overlook

Before you go, it is best to go to the state website and download a park map. Putting Letchworth into your maps program and having it give you directions is not the best choice. The park straddles the Genesee River. The park is 17 miles (ca. 27 km) long, in that distance, there are only two bridges. One is a railroad bridge near the south end of the park. The other is a footbridge near the lower falls. The GPS might place you 20 miles from where you want to be.

big bend Letchworth state park
The Tea Top area has picnic tables at the Great Bend of the Gorge.
fall foliage letchworth state park
This is from the Tea-Top viewing area. The Gorge is over a 600-foot drop from the top to the river below

You can see other photos I have taken of Letchworth State Park t other times of the year at my Flicr Letchworth album

Last week the temperature was a nice 86° then, 36 hours later it was 34°. Since then, it has been mostly misty and no sun. I guess fall is about over and winter will be here soon. Thinking of going cross-country skiing this year instead of hiking.


Charles W Davis Jr. is the author of the “Subic Bay Travel and Dive Guide”, the most referenced source of information on the wrecks of Subic Bay. He is also the author of six other diving and travel books and has ghosted written a number of other books. A Freelance writer attracting clients from his own website www.charleswdavisjr.com and working on the upwork website as “Travel & Scuba Diving Specialist Have WIFI, Will Travel”.

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