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Durand Eastman Park Walking Tour
Durand-Eastman Park is located along the shore of Lake Ontario between the Genesee River and Irondequoit Bay. Its topography is characterized by steep wooded ravines that drain from South to North. Several of the ravines drain into ponds frequented by fishers. The park has a nearly mile long beach that is mostly unusable by swimmers due to high bacteria levels in the water and lack of life guards. The park has several roads that run through it, enabling access to its many picnic shelters and trails. During the summer months, especially on weekends, when all of the roads are open the areas near the shelters can be noisy from car stereos and other electronic devices. During the winter, when some of the roads are closed, the park is beautifully silent and peaceful.
The park is very popular with dog walkers. Some of the dog walkers are responsible and leash their dogs and pick up after them, others are not so responsible. The paved roads are often littered with dog droppings.
The trails along the edges of the lakes are beautiful except near popular fishing spots. There, you will see empty beer cans, fast food containers, and other detritus left by fishers. The fishers don't wonder far from their cars, so the farther you stay away from Lakshore Boulevard, the less trash you will see. There is divine retribution, most of the fish in the ponds are probably contaminated.
Maps, Directions, and Satellite Imagery
Official park Web site
The following description was provided by Inforochester.com visitor, Susan Lamberton firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Another suggestion to explore: The beach at Durand Eastman Park (Lakeshore Drive, W. Irondequoit) and across the street if you can find it, on the edge of the park, is the "White Lady's Castle" (actually the remains of a hotel that used to be there) which, though a popular place for teens to drink/party is also one of the best spots to catch a sunset I've ever experienced. To find the place, take 590N to the "Sea Breeze" exit go straight through the next intersection onto Sweet Fern. This will become Lakeshore Drive. You will curve around quite a bit, and on your right will pass a marshy area, then a couple of houses. Soon after that on your left, look for a recessed area with a small area for cars and a railing. If you get to the Durand Park Entrance, you've gone too far. Set back a bit from the road are some stairs off to the right leading up the hillside. If you look up, you can see the castle-like foundation which is where you're headed. At the top you will find a grassy area good for picnicking, and a wall atop the foundation that I like to sit on while watching the sunset over the lake. If you venture into the woods on the other side of the grassy area you can climb down to the ponds and explore a bit (wear shoes you don't mind getting dirty if you plan to do this!) This is a really neat spot to visit especially if you are familiar with the legend of the White Lady of Durand Eastman Park.
Well, I hope you enjoy exploring that place as much as I have... If you do go, let me know how you liked it!"
I have written about Durand Eastman Park in terms of cross/country skiing on this Web site at: Cross-country ski areas, Rochester, New York, but not in terms of walking. The park is beautiful in every way that Susan describes it. It has ponds, marshes, a stream, hills, and of course Lake Ontario. One of the first fall walks I ever took in Rochester was to Durand Eastman Park. The fall foliage was spectacular, the trails were well groomed, and the varied landscape enjoyable to explore. What is not so great about the park is that it is heavily used and abused. It is a party spot, so in the summer loud music pumped out of the backs of cars is common. Discarded beer cans, bottles, and broken glass are seen more than one would like or expect. However, if you are in a party mood this may be the place to be. Then there's the red tide. The beach at Lake Ontario is often closed because of rotting dead fish killed by red tides. Then there's the issue of the park's deer. Homeowners build or buy houses on the edge of the park and then object to wildlife eating their cultivated plants. The deer population grew and the problem became a major issue. The deer population has been reduced by several methods. None of the methods have met with the approval of environmentalists. When I first visited the park I saw deer from time to time. In recent years, I have not seen a single deer. Because of the high number of park visitors it is unusual to see any kind of wildlife except for birds and squirrels. The most common four legged mammal I have seen year round are dogs.
One of my favorite times to visit the park is on rainy gray summer and fall days. Few people go to the park when the weather is poor. It's quiet, peaceful, and all of its charm shows through.
For more information on Durand-Eastman Park visit InfoRochester's Gardening page.
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