Let nature nurture you with these fall recreation activities 

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I can’t tell you how many times in the last year that friends of mine have reacted to the madness of the world by joking that they just want to walk into the woods and never come out.

Well, why not? There’s something to that. Time spent among cathedral-like trees, alongside flowing water, or looking at the world from just-scaled peaks somehow presses the reset button in the brain’s stress center.

There are myriad ways to explore the natural wonders of our region, whether alone or with a group. There’s something to do every day of fall, most of which is accessible to all ages and paces. Not to mention that there are many trails and land preserves you can explore on your own during open hours.

Here are a handful of activities that stand out.

For more info, visit the web links and check out our calendar at roccitynews.com. Of course, because all plans are up in the air these days, it’s best to call ahead to be sure the events are still on and to check with the host organizations for future activities into the fall.

Thursday, Sept. 2: ‘Lunch Near Wetlands and Wilds’

They call Letchworth State Park the “Grand Canyon of the East.” While the gorge isn’t nearly as mind-blowing as that western monument to time, it’s impressive in its own right.

Letchworth hosts hikes and other programs every day of the week, so it’s easy to find something to do on whatever day you’re free. You’ll come away from many of the guided hikes with some mental exercise as well, as they’re peppered with educational bits about geology, wildlife, the seasons, and more.

Pack a picnic and wear waterproof walking shoes for the “Lunch Near Wetlands & Wilds” hike at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 2. The one-mile trek takes about two to three hours. More info at parks.ny.gov/events or by calling 493-3682.

Monday, Sept. 13: ‘Paddle Hemlock and Picnic’

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There’s nothing like a little exertion to work up an appetite, and then rewarding your efforts with some food al fresco. Even better if you can sneak away for a Monday morning excursion on beautiful Hemlock Lake.

Among the full calendar of events planned and hosted by the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club is the “Paddle Hemlock and Picnic” event on Monday, Sept. 13. The group meets at 10 a.m. at the boat launch at the north end of Hemlock Lake for a two-hour paddle, then reconvenes at the park for a picnic meal together under the pavilion.

The event is free to join, and registration is required. BYO water and a dish to pass. And yes, you need to bring your own paddle boat and gear (or befriend someone who has a boat) and wear a life preserver. More details at adk-gvc.org/calendar.

Saturday, Sept. 18: Hurley Woods naturalist tour

Can you identify our region’s trees just by looking at their foliage? How about the bark? Can you name five plants for pollinators? At 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, the owners of a special, 50-acre parcel of land on Benson Road in Victor known as Hurley Woods will for the first time open it to members of Burroughs Audubon Nature Club and Canandaigua Botanical Society for a private tour. Since buying the land in 2009, Joe and Ginny Hurley have created a native tree arboretum and pollinator garden while managing invasive plant species.

Waterproof boots are recommended for the free 90-minute tour, during which participants will hear from a Department of Environmental Conservation forestry consultant. The tour is limited to 30 people, and registration is required. Not a member of either organization? Head to bancny.org or canandaiguabotanicalsociety.blogspot.com to join.

Sunday, Sept. 26: ‘Fungi Fest’

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An affiliate of the Rochester Museum and Science Center, the Cumming Nature Center in Naples annually hosts a range of programs that are as educational as they are outdoorsy.

Upcoming events include “Heritage Maker Workshops,” “Archaeology Family Days” (help dig into the site of a 19th century homestead), a hiking and book club, the recurring “Wild Weekend Walks,” “Yoga in the Pines” sessions, and “Fungi Fest,” which is a hike that will change the way you see the world.

On Sept. 26, a mycology expert will lead two guided hikes, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., teaching participants where to look for mushrooms and how to identify different species by sight as well as by making spore prints. You’ll also have the chance to sample gourmet mushrooms and learn recipes for both fungi foods and mushroom dyes.

Admission to the nature center is $3 per person or $10 per family, and free to RMSC and Pines Pass members. The guided hike costs an additional $4 per person. For more info, head to rmsc.org/cumming-nature-center.

Sunday, Oct. 10: Rochester Birding Field Trip at Hamlin Beach State Park

If you love the outdoors, but moving at a brisk pace isn’t your speed, Rochester Birding’s activities may be right for you. The organization hosts a handful of bird-watching gatherings every month. Different species are found in different locations, and you’ll get advice from the guide.

The Oct. 10 meet up at Hamlin Beach predicts sightings of thrushes, sparrows, “and maybe a half-hardy warbler or two” in the wooded and brushy areas surrounding the park.

Participants are to meet at 8 a.m. at Hamlin Beach State Park’s Parking Lot 1, and the gathering lasts until about noon. Bring spotting scopes if you have them, wear comfortable footwear, and dress in warm layers for the cooler weather along the lake. More field trips and registration details at rochesterbirding.org.

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor and can be reached at [email protected].
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