You may recall from our Family, Friends, and Fun post that we recently spent some time at one of our favorite parks, Mendon Ponds. This visit inspired us to start another new feature at MyDogLikes – Highlighting Dog Friendly Parks!
Mendon Ponds Park – General Information
Mendon Ponds Park is part of the Monroe County Parks System and is located roughly 15 miles southeast of Rochester, NY. The park itself sits within the towns of Mendon and Pittsford. In our opinion it is one of the best places in the area to take your family (including the furry members) to hike and explore.
Depending on where you grew up or what is around you, when you think of a county or city park you may think about some green space with a playground in the middle. Please, clear your mind of any preconceived notions because Mendon Ponds is hands down one of the most beautiful and peaceful parks in Western New York.
Mendon Ponds Park is the largest of the Monroe County Parks, boasting 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms. Its diverse terrain has even earned its way on to the National Registry of Natural Landmarks. There are lodges and shelters, athletic fields and 10 distinct hiking trails covering 30+ miles.
Mendon Ponds is beautiful at all times of year, cycling between bountiful spring blooms and summer lush, to fall foliage and pristine winter landscapes. Taking a quick drive through the park you will see rolling meadows, forests, and of course several ponds. This park is popular for hiking, picnicking, fishing and cycling on the park roads. With its varied and hilly terrain, Mendon Ponds is also host to a fair number of cross country races and outdoor events throughout the year.
Hundred Acre Pond in the springtime…
Places of Note at Mendon Ponds Park
Wild Wings Facility: Mendon Ponds is home to Wild Wings Inc. which is a not-for-profit educational organization housing and caring for permanently injured, non-releasable birds of prey. Many of these animals have been hit by cars or shot and cannot fly or hunt for themselves. Instead of being euthanized, they are cared for by Wild Wings and used for public education. Species on premises include eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, owls and even a non-releasable bobcat.
Sharon’s Sensory Garden: This is an area of the park specially created for those with visual or physical disabilities. The trail here are wheelchair accessible and all plant listings include braille. Sharon’s Sensory Garden welcomes visitors to touch, tear and smell the various plant life.
Harley swimming in Hundred Acre Pond
Our Favorite Spots
Mendon Ponds is a vast park and can not be fully explored in a day. In fact we have been visiting for many years and it seems like we stumble upon a new and beautiful area each time. For this reason, we thought we would share a few of our favorite spots. We would highly recommend checking out!
Land Bridge separating Hundred Acre Pond and Deep Pond
We never leave Mendon Ponds Park without stopping at the land bridge separating the hundred acre pond and deep pond (pointed out on the map above). This is a beautiful spot with great water access for your dogs to take a dip and fetch some sticks. From time to time you will see kayakers paddling and even crossing under the landbridge through the culvert that connects these ponds. Getting to see some kayakers is always fascinating for the dogs! The water here is beautiful and full of hundreds of lilies. Below you can see Harley and Charlie enjoying a swim here!
Devil’s Bathtub Trail
This is probably our most common starting point. Park at the bottom of the hill (parking lot pointed out on the map above) or if the gate is open, drive up to a small parking lot on the top. You will see the entrance to the Devil’s Bathtub trail leading down a long and winding staircase. This trail takes you through an area known as a Kettle Hole (don’t worry, we needed to look it up too!) and a sphagnum moss peat bog. Though they will likely want to, I wouldn’t let your dogs swim down here as the water can evidently become acidic due to the rate of plant decay in this unique environment.
This is a very interesting hike, but be warned that the trails may be a bit muddy, especially if there has been some recent rain. Aside from the unique scenery, what we really enjoy about this particular trail is the solitude. Rarely do we encounter other hikers in this area and it makes for a very peaceful and relaxing hike.
East Esker Trail
Towards the southern edge of the park is the East Esker Trail, which is another favorite of ours. Driving along Pond road, you will find a small parking lot (marked on the map above) where the trail begins and ends. This is a long trail (nearly 5 miles) but full of all sorts of interesting scenery.
As you start on the trail, do not be alarmed if you hear a bit of barking in the distance. The beginning of this trail nears Add-En-On Kennel and vacation resort for pets! This particular trail winds trough many distinct areas including open fields of wildflowers, shady forests of pine, quaking aspen and cherry, and several observation areas.
For much of the trail you will hike atop eskers, which are glacially formed winding ridges. This is a popular running trail so you may be passed by some people out for a jog as well. On the return side of the trail you will pass by a few ponds which are great for the dogs to cool off in – as long as there are no fishermen!
A throwback picture from East Esker Trail – Harley and Rach both look pretty young…
Activities at Mendon Ponds Park
Mendon Ponds Park is very welcoming to a variety of outdoor activities. You will find people jogging, hiking, and riding horses along the trails. The ponds are popular for fishing, kayaking, and non-motorized boating. Geocaching is also a welcome activity in the park.
In the winter, Mendon Ponds Park is a great place to sled, snowshoe and cross country ski. They even host a Winterfest event every year where attendees can tryout various winter sports including ice-fishing.
There is plenty of wildlife in the area including beavers, muskrats, and fox. You will almost certainly see deer at some point during your visit. Mendon Ponds Park is also a very popular birdwatching destination. In fact, the park has a nature/animal preserve with a chickadee population that you can hand-feed.
Why MyDogLikes Mendon Ponds Park
Mendon Ponds Park is a real gem in Monroe County. Though its near the city of Rochester, you feel like you are in a completely different world. This park has so much to offer and has so many areas to explore. Even though we have frequented it for 5+ years we feel there is so much left to see! It is without a doubt our favorite place to take the dogs hiking and they clearly love it as well! Until next time…