How to Explore the Outdoors While Physical Distancing

We are living in a world that none of us could have even imagined a month ago. Our lives have been flipped upside down. Our country and community are facing tough times; from job loss to homeschooling children to just trying to live a normal life when nothing is… normal.

From a tourism standpoint, our industry is getting rocked. Tours and tradeshows that have been planned for months are getting cancelled and in general, nobody can or should be traveling right now. Our goal right now is to be a trusted resource to all of you. We’ve dedicated a page on our website that has Covid-19 Updates & Resources. Aside from general information, you can also find info related to health and safety, small businesses and the travel industry.

90671371 10158448125068395 4487470186928013312 oWe’re also constantly keeping up with what’s “allowed”. As of now, it’s ok to head outside to explore the outdoors. Personally, I’ve been taking daily afternoon walks and found that it’s helped give me peace and quality time with loved ones while allowing me to see the area I live in differently. This inspired us to put together a list of local outdoor trails. Of course, some may be missing. If you have any other ideas that are in Oneida County, let us know! Each trail is linked to a page that will give you more in-depth info on the distance, where to park, etc. Happy exploring!


Outdoor Trails
This list kicks off with a unique park system in Utica, literally within city limits.  This past year, we started working more closely with Central New York Conservancy. Their goal is to, “preserve and enhance the natural environment and features of current or historical significance through design, promoting the widest possible range of beneficial uses.” We’ve learned a lot about the history of Utica’s Park System which were designed by the Olmsted Brothers Firm (future blog!). Part of this system contains Roscoe Conkling Park/Valley View.

  • Valley View Golf Course Trails (Utica) – Park at Valley View’s parking lot and head onto one of the trails. You can walk through the course on a cart path before you hit the main road (Master Garden Rd.) that goes through the course or you can walk up Valley View Rd. until you hit Steele Hill Rd. This will take you the long way around Valley View and is part of the Boilermaker route.


  • South Woods Switchbacks (Utica) – This can be reached from Steele Hill Rd. or Master Garden Rd. There are parking spots at the bottom of the switchbacks but people frequently walk from Valley View or the Eagle. This path is peaceful and retains areas of vegetation much like what early settlers to the region would have seen. The trails include switchbacks which are popular for running, walking, biking and more. There’s even a fitness trail system within it! Towards the bottom is a picnic pavilion area that the public can use for grilling and picnics.


  • IMG 20191026 174711Forest Hill Cemetery (Utica) – I’m adding this in because it runs adjacent to some of the above-mentioned paths. Lately, I’ve been walking through Valley View Golf Course, up Master Garden Rd. to the top by the Eagle statue. If you do this, you can either turn around and walk back down or continue down the hill to Oneida St. At the bottom, you’ll find the entrance to the cemetery. While it may seem a bit odd, this cemetery is beautiful and has paths perfect for walking. 


Aside from these spots, there are tons of other trails in Oneida County. Here’s a list of some others:


  • Root Glen at Hamilton College (Clinton) – This is a .7-mile out-and-back trail good for all skill levels. The head of this trail is on Hamilton College’s campus. The path meanders through the woods where you’ll see streams, footbridges, birds and wildflowers. There are also gardens near the path that are a must-see! Dogs are welcome but must be leashed.


  • BREIA Trails (Boonville) – More than 50km of trails and free facilities that can be used year-round for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking and hiking. Click the link for info on the different trails and access points!


  • Philip A. Rayhill Memorial Trail (Kirkland/Westmoreland) – This is a 5.22-mile, handicap-accessible, asphalt trail that parallels NYS Rt. 840. It begins at a trailhead parking lot on New Hartford St. Amenities include mile marker signs at every mile in both directions, on-pavement markings, overlooks, fishing platforms, benches and landscaping. This spot is great for biking, walking and running!


  • sanpete91 Instagram 1954 ig 1619067899392036347 1159158968Black River Feeder Canal Trail (Boonville/Forestport) – A 10-mile trail through woods and fields that follows the Black River Canal Towpath Trail. End points are Park Dr. in Erwin Park (Boonville) and Dutch Hill Rd. (Forestport). Parking available at Erwin Park. This trail also now connects to the BREIA Trails mentioned above!


  • Mohawk River Trail (Rome) – This shared pathway connects residential sites, local parks, historical sites and business districts within the city of Rome. At its southern end, it connects to the Erie Canalway Trail. The actual beginning is on Beacon St. but you can also start by Bellamy Harbor Park. Click the link for info on parking and where to begin!


  • Erie Canalway Trail (multiple cities) – The Erie Canal extends all the way from Albany to Buffalo. In Oneida County, it hits Rome, Sylvan Beach, Marcy and Utica. There are several spots along the route to walk, run and bike on these trails.


  • Utica Marsh Wildlife Area (Utica) – This area sits on the border of Utica and Marcy (between the Mohawk River on the south and the NYS Barge Canal on the north). Access requires a walk along the Canalway Trail between 1-1.5 miles. This area is a unique with a mixture of cattail wetlands, meadows, open water pools, birds and a lot more! Click the link to learn about trails and featured activities.


  • tim okeeffe Instagram 1954 ig 17848733326427350Rome Sand Plains (Rome) – These encompass many acres owned and managed by several entities. Featured activities include different trails, fishing, watchable wildlife and more. This area is unique because it’s a true inland pine barren interspersed with sand dunes, peat bogs and other wetland habitats. Click the link for details on trails, directions, etc. 


  • Trenton Greenbelt Trails (Holland Patent) – A 2.1 mile loop trail that features wild flowers and good for all skill levels.