Photography by George Payne
Known as the “Wilderness in the City”, Turning Point Park is located in Charlotte on Rochester’s northwest side. The park covers 275 wooded acres along the banks of the Genesee River and is right around the bend from Lake Ontario. As one of the most ecologically diverse marine bio-habitats in the region, it is no surprise how fast this urban sanctuary has become one of Rochester’s least best kept secrets.
The park boasts osprey, herons, egrets, mallards, geese, swans, kingfishers, gulls, and many other birds. There are deer, rabbit, fox, ferrets, moles, beavers, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, salamanders, snapping turtles and painted turtles, frogs and toads, dragonflies and butterflies, and a million other splendid critters that will never be seen by the naked eye.
About the two falls at Turning Point Park
Size/Types: Red Falls is a seasonal cascade riddled with large rocks and downed trees (as well as some garbage). It starts its 60 ft journey from a culvert under the railroad tracks and flows down a layer of red sandstone part of the way.
Brown Falls, is in a heavily wooded area in the southern end of the park, about halfway down into the gorge. It is a 35 ft high seasonal cascade.
Best time to visit: In winter or spring; after heavy rain or snow-melt.
Waterway: Unnamed seasonal tributaries into the Genesee River, which empties into Lake Ontario 2 miles to the north.
Time: Thirty minutes to an hour. Carefully scrambling to the bottom of each waterfall will take quite some time.
Seasons/Hours: Open year-round, from dawn until dusk.
Handicap accessibility: The paved portions of the Riverway Trail and from the parking lot to a lovely view of the gorge are accessible. Beyond that are steep gradients and irregular dirt trails.
Pets: Allowed if on a leash. For your pet’s safety, and the safety of other hikers, keep your pet on the leash. It doesn’t matter if your dog is “friendly,” it’s the law. Please clean up after.
Accommodations: Trails; informational signage; fishing access from the wooden docks.
Turning Point’s boardwalk and trail won the American Public Works Associations’ “Transportation Project of the Year” Award ($2-$10 million category) in 2008. The trail consists of 3 main parts: 1) the 2,968 ft land-based trail that utilized an old railroad bed to transition from the top of the bank to the river’s edge, 2) a 3,572 ft-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin, and 3) an all-new land-based trail, 3,406 feet in length, through Turning Point Park North and adjacent to the Genesee Marina.
Turning Point Park also features a gorgeous Rain Garden, an eco-friendly way to use natural vegetation as sediment filters. When it rains or snows, flowing sediments and pollutants from the nearby parking lot are captured by the garden’s vegetation. The water-loving plants act as filters and clean the runoff before it reaches the river. The rain garden is stocked with a wide variety of hardy plants that aid in the process, from ostrich fern and filipendula to coneflower and New England aster.
Learn more about how the Turning Point Rain Garden works.