Groomed trail
No
Elevation Gain
112.00 ft (34.14 m)
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Warming hut
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Most people don't associate Rochester, New York, with cross-country trails, but the region offers scores of easy-access parks and trails whose fun-factor is high for the convenience of getting to them. Whiting Road Nature Preserve is just one example. Located nearly a stone's throw from Ontario Lake in the town of Webster, Whiting Road Nature Preserve is approximately 240 acres of land. Its network of crisscrossing trails move through interesting topography and a variety of ecosystems. This 4-mile loop is a nice tour of the preserve encompassing several different portions of smaller loops, named for colors.

Trails are identified with colored markers and "you are here" maps at many of the junctions. Mileage is also provided on these maps, making it a type of choose-your-own-adventure as you go. Park in the parking lot, which is rarely full. Plastic bags and a trash can are provided for dog owners. Use them.

The cross-country loop starts on the main trail to the left of the trail map station. This is the blue trail. Follow it about a quarter-mile until you get to a junction with the orange trail. Go left on the orange trail. The trail offers gentle terrain through a woodland, but paths are open and inviting. After about a half-mile, you'll be in a meadow. The meadow is mowed in the late autumn to prevent the natural regrowth of trees taking advantage of the sunlight and crowding out the grasses.

At the junction in the meadow, go right on the red trail. There are short but fun up and down sections. In a little over a third of a mile, you'll get to another well-marked junction. Pay attention here. Turn right onto the orange trail for 0.2 mile.

The red trail continues into the woods on a single track. For the very same reasons that the red trail is so awesome for pedestrians and bikers, it is miserable for cross-country skiing. The trail is loaded with roots, tight turns, and bridges. Because the lower sections are in a wetland, skis get iced, which is not good for gliding. 

Soon you'll be back at the original junction between the yellow, orange, and blue trails. Instead of going straight, which takes you to the parking lot, turn left onto the yellow trail for about half a mile. The yellow will swoosh you along fields and forest edges. At the next junction of the brown, red, and blue trails, turn left onto red, then quickly veer to the right for the brown trail. The brown loops you back to this junction in about 0.5 mile.

Return to the trailhead by turning left for 0.3 mile on the blue trail once you return to the junction of the brown, red, and blue trails. If you want to continue your adventure, you can easily add mileage with any combination of the yellow, brown, and blue looping trails.

In all other respects, the park can become moderately busy. Mountain bikers find a fun mix of single tracks, roots and rocks, and wide flat cruisers. Trail runners enjoy the technical aspects, short bursts of hills, and cruisers. Local high school cross-country teams use them for training, and scout troops are a regular occurrence. Equestrians truck in their horses, so take care to not spook them. Bow hunting is permitted during bow hunting season during restricted times. Pedestrians are welcome to use the trails during these brief windows, but I don't recommend it. Instead, head across the street to Webster Park via a connector trail where hunters aren't allowed.

Given the proximity to the meadows and its mice, it's no surprise that owls love it here. Listen carefully and you may hear one. And if you glimpse a large, swift, and utterly silent shape that seems to suddenly disappear into the trees and shadows, you've found an owl.

The trail system is lovingly maintained by Friends of Webster Trails. They do an amazing job.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Summer
Fall
Spring

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Well-maintained. Variety of ecosystems. Four-season use. Easy access.

Cons

Can get muddy.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Trailhead Elevation

190.00 ft (57.91 m)

Highest point

244.00 ft (74.37 m)

Net Elevation Gain

84.00 ft (25.60 m)

Features

Wildlife
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Trail type

Loop

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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