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Cobbs Hill Reservoir Walking Tour


Any time of the year is a good time to take a walk around the Cobbs Hill Reservoir. It is a short paved walk, perhaps a quarter mile, if you only take one lap. Its short length makes it an enjoyable lunch-time walk. You can walk a lap of the paved level walkway and still have time to eat lunch and get back to work. The view is panoramic, not breathtaking, but enjoyable if you have been sitting at a desk or looking at a computer monitor for too long. The view is a favorite of photography students looking for a vantage point to photograph the great Rochester cityscape. At the west side of the loop stands a utility building that vaguely resembles a Greek temple. During the summer, the steps of the building are a favorite gathering place for musicians.

Cobbs Hill Reservoir is a manmade circular lake located on top of a hill in Cobbs Hill Park. A paved walking path surrounds the reservoir which is protected by a metal fence. A road circles the reservoir. Parking is allowed on the eastern and northeastern sides of the park. Although you may see numerous cars parked on the west side, they are parked illegally and may be ticketed.

How to Get There

Cobbs Hill Park is located between I490 and Monroe Ave. (Rte. 31) and between Culver Rd. and Cobbs Hill Dr. From the center of Rochester, take Monroe Ave. southeast to Highland Ave. Turn left on Highland Ave. (east). The first turnoff to your left (north) will be the entrance to the park. The park road is one way. Follow the road up the hill to the right. When you reach the top of the hill you will see signs designating parking areas along the roadside. A little further on, you will see the road split. The right fork will take you around the park loop. The left fork goes to the left of the communications building and rejoins the loop drive. Parking is permitted on this side road. The park would be a great place for lovers to park at night, which may be why it is closed after dark.
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Map of Cobbs Hill

Favorite Walk

Taking a walk around the Cobbs Hill Reservoir often provides us a break from writing or other indoor work. We can put together a quick lunch, drive to the reservoir, walk, and return in an hour. This walk is enjoyable during every season. There is something about being outside and being high enough to see a panoramic view that frees the spirit. The air seems fresher and clearer. It may be an illusion associated with being able to see so far. After spending too many hours at our computers, one us will declare that our eyes need to focus at infinity for a while. The walk and view from the reservoir provides that needed infinity focus and gets us back to work quickly.

We have never felt unsafe at the reservoir, but we wouldn't recommend that women walk alone there. The amount of dog droppings on the walkway sometimes makes walking there unenjoyable. It may seem like I harp too much on this subject, but it is a disgusting nuisance. It seems that Rochester's dog owners like to take their pets to public parks so that their dogs can defecate on the trails, especially the paved ones. They don't scoop the poop. Instead, they provide you with the enjoyment of side stepping around turds on your lunch hour. Most of the negligent dog owners we observed, arrived in expensive cars, so one can assume that it is lack of consideration and rudeness more than anything else that encourages their behavior. The temple, as we like to call the utility building on west side of the reservoir, is a favorite target graffiti writers. With those exceptions noted, our walks at the reservoir have always been pleasant.

We often take a walk at the reservoir when we need to discuss problems, successes, and important plans with each other.


When the days are warm and sunny, you may pass by, or stop and listen to, musicians playing guitars, drums, or flutes on the steps of the temple. The steps face the afternoon sun and the temple offers some protection from the wind. The view from the steps is a long slope of green grass leading down to Monroe Ave. The day that Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, died, we walked by a group of mourners playing music and singing on the steps. It was touching to see his fans paying tribute from the temple.

If there is a warm summer rain shower, put on some water proof shoes, take your umbrella, and go for a walk at the reservoir. You can explain it to your therapist later. For now, enjoy it.

As long as the walkway is free of ice you will probably see joggers on it. It is a great place for beginning joggers who need a level surface and want to limit their runs to a short distance or multiple laps. Stronger joggers run along the road rather than the walkway. The road dips down near the entrance and climbs again as it makes a circle around the reservoir. The hills are steep, but short.


Even on the coldest day of winter, the reservoir is still recommended walk. Because of its exposure, the wind chill can sometimes be biting. Alternately, because of its exposure, it gets lots of sun. Snow and ice melt from the reservoir walkway before most other places. Even if there is just a little sunlight coming through clouds, it makes a difference here.

Sledders love to slide down the hill below the temple when there is adequate snow on the ground. It is steep enough to cause injury to the careless sledder out of control. We have seen ambulances at the bottom of the hill treating banged up sledders on several occasions.

Other Diversions

If you want to extend your walk, go down the hill from the temple steps to Monroe Ave. and turn right (northwest) and walk about 10 short blocks to the business district. You will pass bookstores, antique stores, jewelry stores, restaurants, markets, and much more along the way.

More Rochester Walks.


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