It’s time for your kids to take a hike! Literally. Getting the whole family out for a hike can be a refreshing experience for everyone. The key is to finding adventure where you are not constantly worrying about your little ones. In the Finger Lakes, you will find kid-friendly trails, hikes and waterfalls that will let your little ones safely explore their surroundings without any unnecessary hovering from you.


The Finger Lakes boasts some beautiful waterfalls that are not only safe for little feet to explore but are a very short walk from car to destination. 


Watkins Glen State Park is located in the village of Watkins Glen, which sits south of Seneca Lake. The trails run about two miles in length, depending on which route you decide to take. 

This may seem long for little legs, but you can adjust the length of your walk according to which trail you choose, and there are nineteen mini waterfalls sprinkled throughout the gorge path for kids to splash and play and keep busy!

Watkins Glen State Park is a pillar of the Finger Lakes. The Glen’s stream descends over 400 feet, past 200 foot cliffs. The Cavern Cascade waterfall is a must see while you wander the the rim trails that overlook the gorge.

Every turn along the path at Watkins Glen is visually stunning. Even the littlest of kids can appreciate the wonder of constantly cascading waterfalls, the seemingly endless gorge and the echo of the caverns. It’s truly a day of adventure and play. 

The trails at Watkins Glen State Park are well used and easy to walk, but some may want waterproof shoes, if you have them!


Grimes Glen, located at the South end of Canandaigua Lake in Naples, NY, is fantastic for kids! The walk from the parking area to the first waterfall is short and sweet. There are places along the trail that are incomplete, and the walk to the second waterfall in the park involves splashing in the creek bed, so everyone will need footwear that can hang on to slippery rocks!

This trail feels like a complete and total adventure to little ones, especially during the trip to the second waterfall. They’ll love looking for rocks and small fish along the way.


Robert Treman State Park sits just off of Route 13, south of Cayuga Lake. The park has miles of beautiful trails available that run along the Enfield Glen Gorge. It’s incredible to see, and the trails are protected from the gorge by concrete walls, which brings a big sigh of relief to parents who want to enjoy the view without holding onto little hands with strength similar to the jaws of life. 

Bring bathing suits and plenty of sunscreen, because cooling off in a stream fed pool underneath one of the falls is the perfect post-hike reward. Also, be sure to stop at Lucifer Falls, because kids stare at the 115 foot waterfall in awe. 


Onanda Park sits in the southern portion of Canandaigua, New York. It’s friendly for older kids and tiny tots, depending on which side of the park you choose to explore. The lake side of the park is complete with places to cookout, parks, beach access, and young ones can check out the entrance to the Uplands.

The hilly Uplands boasts 73 acres of gorgeous hillside and well-groomed trails for hiking. You’ll pass a beautiful waterfall viewable from two lookout decks. These trails are wonderful for older kids with hardier legs, and they’ll love the nature center and benches placed around the park for rest. Set up a list of birds for them to spot, since the park has over two hundred species. 


You’ll find Flint Creek and Old Mill Falls nestled into the town of Phelps in Ontario county. When visiting, take the time to hit the whole trail. Walks to the waterfalls are extremely short, topping off around a half mile or so. The first waterfall is pretty close to the parking area, which is relatively small. Kids will be able to spot falls, both man made and natural, ranging from 3 to 11 feet. 

On warm summer days, you can take them on a creek walk through Flint Creek as well. This would be suitable for older kids that can step easily on rocks. No matter which way you explore, Flint Creek has quite a bit packed into a short trail.


If you’re not on the hunt for a waterfall trail, you can easily get back to basics with the hundreds of nature trails available in the Finger Lakes. The area is rampant with beautiful trails ideal for small feet and curious minds. Hitting a scenic trail with the kids is the perfect way to teach them about preservation, conservation and animals!


Marcellus, NY is home to Baltimore Woods, an incredible place for kids and adults alike! The trails here are flat and easy to navigate. You can choose the length of your trail, and you’ll see various animals along the way. Baltimore Woods is amazing any time of the year, but it is beautiful in the winter. 

Open year round, Baltimore Woods is filled with a variety of habitats, rich with plant and animal life. The learning at this center is geared toward children ages 5 to 15. Kids will have a diverse experience walking through forests, streams, wetlands, open meadows and beaver ponds. 


The towpath at the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail (located in Penn Yan, New York, to the west of the lake itself) is a little more ambitious but a ton of fun for kids who are up for the challenge. The trail is 7 miles in total but features an incredibly slow descent, so you don’t have uphill paths that tire out little legs. 

You also don’t need to walk the entire trail, but there is so much to see. May we suggest parking in a different location over the course of a few different visits, to take in everything there is to see from the Crooked Canal to the Penn Yan Waterfront. There is a ton of history located along these trails!


The Ontario Pathways in Canandaigua, New York showcases a 23.3 rail trail, and three smaller loop trails that top off at 1.7 miles each. Clearly, if you want your kids to survive the hike, start with a smaller trail. If you’re feeling brave, the 23 miles of packed trails are well groomed and safe for little feet. There is so much to see, from bridges to creeks. 

If you’re planning a fall visit, do not miss the pumpkin walk. The Finger Lakes region bursts with color this time of year, and miles of pumpkins adorn the trail pathways. It’s the perfect recipe for a fall memory your family will never forget!


Cumming Nature Center in Rochester, New York, is a literal learning center for everything outdoors. Set upon a 900 acre nature preserve, the CNC offers over 6 miles of trails to explore, varying from woods to wetlands. 

Explore alone as a family or take your kids on a guided tour through wildflower fields that will leave them in awe. The center offers plenty of engaging and constructive activities that encourage questions and exploration from kids of all ages. Cumming Nature Center focuses on the intricacies of nature, and how important it is to maintain individual ecosystems. 

Basically, it’s really fun outdoor learning!


Talk about space. If you’re looking to give your kids some serious outdoor time, look no further. The Finger Lakes National Forest is settled between Seneca and Cayuga lakes, and has more than 30 miles of trails that interconnect. 

The wildlife will thrill your little ones, including birds and other animals like deer, chipmunks, beavers, frogs, snakes and more! The trails are well maintained by the USDA Forest Service, and you’ll travel through woods, by ponds and over meadows. 

There is so much freedom here. It’s liberating, beautiful and so much fun for little explorers. Kid will love the Burnt Hill Loop Trail. They’ll be able to feast their little eyes upon everything ranging from lazy, grazing cows to dense forest full of critters large and small. 

The trail is a bit long for smaller kids, topping out at just about 3 ½ miles. Of course, you don’t have to walk the whole thing, but it’s well marked and easy to navigate. There’s so much to see, they aren’t likely to realize how far you’ve walked until you’re back at the car!


Montezuma Wildlife Refuge has nature trails, viewing towers and platforms, overlooks, and kiosks to provide family-friendly wildlife viewing areas and information. The refuge is relatively flat, so all trails have very little elevation-gain, offering easy walks without losing any of the nature-experience opportunities. When you get there, pick up a map at the Visitor Center.  


Traveling to and through the Finger Lakes offers a laundry list of fun family adventure. Remember, while these travels are certainly safe enough for children, trails can be slippery in wet weather, so use caution and always pack the essentials. On top of proper footwear, bring a small first aid kid, sunscreen, bug spray and plenty of water.

Waterfalls, hikes, rivers, ponds, stretching woodlands, meadows and wetlands all await your exploration in the Finger Lakes. There is always something exciting and new for kids to explore and so many new experiences to inspire curiosity.

Wandering the Finger Lakes is a learning experience every single time your family steps out of the car. Oh, and (gasp) they’ll have fun every step of the way!