Dog Friendly Parks

Exploring Gosnell Big Woods Preserve in Webster, NY

MyDogLikes continues its spotlight on dog friendly parks with this feature on Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY
Written by Kevin Sando

One of our favorite things about the Rochester, NY area is the beautiful parks and nature trails.  At MyDogLikes we continue to share dog friendly parks with our readers in order to support our mission and encourage pet parents to incorporate their dogs into a healthy, active lifestyle. Though we know our readers are spread out all over the world, we want to share the things we do with our boys, so that you begin to think about the wonderful resources in your own backyard.

With diverse terrain and beautiful sights, we have enjoyed the Monroe County Parks System for years with the dogs.  Recently, we were shocked to learn that we have only scratched the surface of the natural treasures in the area! While putting together our feature on Corbett’s Glen Nature Park, we discovered the Genesee Land Trust – a local conservation organization that is working hard to protect the lands around the Rochester, NY area.  In its work, this group has set aside 35 additional parks, preserves, refuges, and sanctuaries!

The Genesee Land Trust map of protected places in the Rochester, NY area

Although some require special invitation to explore, 18 of these unique places are open to the public!  We made plans to begin visiting right away. First on our list…Gosnell Big Woods Preserve!

The entrance to Gosnell Big Woods Preserve in Webster, NY

About Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

Located in the town of Webster, Gosnell Big Woods encompasses 163 acres of old growth forest, fields and meadows.  This park was established in 2006 through a combination of donated and sold lands from Thomas and Georgia Gosnell. The preserve consists of 3 main trails; each exploring a different terrain within the park.   The trail map for Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

We visited Gosnell Big Woods on a weekend in Mid October hoping to enjoy a hike in the beautiful Western New York Fall foliage.

The Big Field Trail

We entered Gosnell Big Woods Preserve through the parking lot at the corner of Vosburg and Drumm Roads (indicated by the “P” in the map above). This set us out directly on the Big Field Trail (in green). A look around and it becomes quite evident where the name comes from.  Hiking with the dogs in Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

The view from the Big Field Trail at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve in Webster, NY

Harley and Charlie looking out at the Big Field Trail at Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY

A beautiful fall shot from the Big Field Trail in Gosnell Big Woods Preserve near Rochester, NY

Harley heading down the Big Field Trail at Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY

Walking along the Big Field Trail at Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY

Harley happy as can be!

Our Golden Retriever Harley thrilled to be out for a Fall hike

The views on this trail are stunning, especially in the fall.  We stopped for a bit to admire the beauty and expanse of the fields, and also to squeeze in a quick photo shoot with Charlie! It seems our little wiggle but needed to burn some energy before starting our hike and the big open field was a great place to get a little off-leash time and throw around his favorite Chuck-It Frisbee!! The tall grasses provided the perfect hiding spot for an overgrown puppy who doesn’t like to give up his prized possession!

At Gosnell Big Woods Park near Rochester NY

Charlie holding on to his Chuckit! Boomerang

The field of Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY

The Big Woods Trail is a 1.2 mile loop around the grassy field.  Along the trail you are presented with several different trail options to choose from.

The entrance to the Big Woods Trail at Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY

I’ve made my decision, Let’s go!

The Overlook

The Overlook is a short walk from the main trail which will dead-end at pretty ravine. Here you can look over some of the terrain in the woods before starting your hike!

The end of the Overlook Trail at Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY

Big Woods Trail

Next up on our hike was the Big Woods Trail (red on the trail map).  As we read on the map at the start of this trail, this is considered old growth forest – which at one time would have covered much of the Northeast.  Many of these trees are hundreds of years old.  I was content to read on about the history and ecology but Harley thought I had read enough and decided it was time to venture in!Harley and Charlie posing in front of a big tree in the old growth forest of Gosnell Big Woods

Hiking in Rochester with our dog Harley at Gosnell Big Woods

Our Golden Retrievers Harley and Charlie exploring Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

Charlie Jumping Over a log at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

The Big Woods Trail is not especially well marked or worn (particularly with leaves all over), but that is by design.  The intent of the Preserve is to impact the land as little as possible while still enabling it to be explored and enjoyed.  There were a couple of spots where the trail was unclear, but its a huge help when you have a trail sensing dog like Harley by your side.

Harley enjoying a fall hike in Rochester, NY - Here we are at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

Harley is our trusted navigator through Gosnell Big Woods Reserve in Webster, NYHarley – Our Trusted Navigator 

Hiking through Gosnell Big Woods near Rochester, NY

A small footbridge on the Big Woods Trail at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

Is that a bit of water I see?!? 

A marsh at Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY

Charlie wondering what happened to this tree along the Big Woods Trail at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve!

Harley and Charlie enjoying the Big Woods Trail at Gosnell Big Woods PreserveDSC_0843

A very unique tree in the Old Growth Forest of Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

The intersection of the Big Woods and Ridge Trails at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve in Webster, NY

The Big Woods Trail is an “out and back” trail. Toward the end of the trail we took a short detour onto the Ridge Trail.  This trail serves as a connection to Pellet Road as well the White Trail in the Whiting Road Nature Preserve.

Some of the Old Growth Forest in Gosnell Big Woods near Rochester, NY

We stopped near the road and headed back to return down the Big Woods Trail.

Small Meadow Trail

Finally, we embarked on the Small Meadow Trail (marked in yellow on the map above).  This trail starts off winding through a series of switchbacks eventually leading to a secluded meadow.  While the entire park was quiet and peaceful, this area of the park was especially so. We stopped for a bit to rest and enjoy the scenery.

Harley and I enjoying the view and peaceful quiet on the Small Meadow Trail at Gosnell Big Woods.

Hiking on the Small Meadow Trail at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve in Webster, NY

Why MyDogLikes Gosnell Big Woods

Gosnell Big Woods is a real gem in the area and we are so glad to have learned about it.  The dogs had an absolute blast exploring the woods and rolling in the meadows.  The trails are very accessible, especially the Big Field and Small Meadow and would make for a great hike for all ages. While the Big Field and southern section of Small Meadow are accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, etc, much of the Big Woods and Northern Small Meadow trail would be difficult to access. Because the trail is minimally developed, there are also roots to watch out for!

We loved Gosnell Big Woods preserve and can’t wait to explore more of the lands protected by the Genesee Land Trust.

Our Golden Retriever Harley enjoying Gosnell Big Woods in Webster, NY


About the author

Kevin Sando

Kevin is a mechanical engineer with a degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has move than a decade experience in new product design, prototyping and early stage manufacturing. Pairing this background with his love of dogs, gives him a unique perspective to evaluate the design and execution of new and interesting pet products.


    • Thanks Ann! Fall is our favorite time of the year and we were so happy to discover a new hike in our area!

  • What a beautiful place to hike, and it looks like the dogs had such a great time! I love the different trails with options….you can do as little or as much as you like. You live in a wonderful area with all of those different places to explore!

  • There is nothing better than a hike in the Fall! Loved all these pics, especially of Charlie getting a bit of water and Harley and dad taking in the scenery! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, we love it there! We always feel so lucky to have so many great places to walk the dogs for a little bit of extra adventure!

  • Gorgeous photos! It’s great finding new dog friendly parks and trails! I am originally from Long Island and that is not an easy task so when we visit I’m always on the prowl for dog friendly places to take our 2 dogs.