Hiking Trails in Oswego County Where You Can Stretch Your Legs & Get Fresh Air This Spring
May 1, 2023
While we were lucky to have a relatively mild winter this year in Central New York, there is nothing better than the first few warm days of Spring. There’s birds chirping, the warm rays of sunshine on your face, and the smell of flowers blooming. And New York State is full of parks, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, ponds, forests and more places to enjoy nature. This Spring, make it your mission to visit all of these hiking trails in Oswego County.
LEAVE NO TRACE. When visiting any park – whether those included or others – please be sure to leave no trace. It is incredibly important that we all remain vigilant in protecting the natural environment around us. Please stick to the marked trails, avoid stepping on native plants, and take all trash with you. Be sure to check if any of the trails are closed for maintenance – and do not use them.
Always remember: Take only photographs, leave only footprints.
Amboy 4-H Center
The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County 4-H Program maintains an Environmental Education Center in Amboy, NY. Within 150 acres of natural forest and wetland, there are 3 miles of designated trails for public use. These trails are usable year-round as they are suitable for snowshoes and cross-country skis.
Throughout the property there are several wildlife viewing areas. Additionally, the 4-H Club maintains a diverse calendar of programing. Activities include hikes, nature workshops, and educational seminars for both youth and adults. Buildings and camping areas are available for day and overnight use for a rental fee.
Derby Hill Bird Observatory
Located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, Derby Hill Bird Observatory was founded in 1954. It was then that people had discovered that the hill was a prime location to watch raptor birds fly around the lake. The birds fly north, but once they reach the lake, they turn right to follow the shoreline. Basically, the raptors avoid flying straight across the lake.
The observatory covers 57 acres of land, which includes several of the hiking trails in Oswego County and multiple bird viewing spots. And while the official hawk season is March through May, the center is open year-round. The birds you can see change throughout the seasons, with the heart of winter being the least active. But regardless of what birds are currently migrating overhead
The hiking trails at Great Bear are easily some of the best you’ll find in Upstate New York. For years, I listened to friends raving about how it’s a great place to bring your dog and go for a hike. On my first visit, we walked/hiked nearly 5 miles and it felt like we visited 5 different forests. Each section of Great Bear has different trees and unique views.
The recreational trails are midway between Fulton and Phoenix, bordered by the Oswego River. There are miles and miles of trails, both color coded and named. I recommend taking the purple trail out along the water, and then the white or yellow back.
While you might worry about getting lost in the forest – you don’t have to! The paths are all well-marked on the trees, and the trails are easily visible on Google Maps and other trail apps. So if you have a smartphone with you, you’re all set.
On their website, you can find designated paths for a 5k, a 10k, and even a fully accessible route.
The yoga retreat and healing center is the mastermind of Cathleen Kelly, a nurse and home health aide by trade. She started the business in 1999 with a mission to join and grow the alternative health community in Central New York, with a focus on holistic healing.
In 2004 Cathleen started building a retreat on property she had purchased a decade earlier in West Monroe. She had already started with her own home and landscaping, but it was at this time that she expanded on the property, building into the forest.
With 86 acres of land, Fiddlehead Grove offers a variety of activities, both indoor and out. Cathleen has put together a thoughtful, well-rounded experience at the retreat. Please note that some of the activities require reservations and fees. See the services portion of their website to book activities.
Throughout the property you’ll find multiple labyrinths, miles and miles of hiking trails, nature viewing, and more. Additionally, Cathleen offers classes and services including yoga, gong sessions, reiki, reflexology, and full moon ceremonies.
Salmon River Falls
Though it is only about 40 minutes away from my house, Salmon River Falls is one of my newest discoveries. The Salmon River winds through a portion of Upstate New York, and the falls are the highlight.
There is a short trail that leads from the parking lot to the top of the falls, where you can descend the stairs to stand (or sit) on top of the waterfall. It is a wide open, rocky area. But please do not go further than the marked area. The restriction zone is restricted for a reason! The cliff is steep and the falls are strong. Stay safe.
SUNY Oswego Fallbrook Recreation Center & Rice Creek Field Station
Located just south of the SUNY Oswego campus, Fallbrook Recreation Center contains 188 acres of land. Within the property there are several miles of prime hiking trails in Oswego, available for use all year long. The center also has a ski lodge and barn, both available to be rented. Throughout the year you’ll find people partaking in a wide variety of activities at the recreation center. Everything from birdwatching and mountain biking to barbecuing and cross-country skiing.
The neighboring property is Rice Creek Field Station, hosting an additional 4 nature trails. The property focusing strongly on conservation and hosts a variety of environmentally-focused events.