How To Visit Chimney Bluffs State Park



Where Are Those Morgans Chimney Bluffs State Park

Chimney Bluffs State Park is known for it’s beautiful clay formations along the southern shoreline of Lake Ontario. It’s home to hiking trails, picnic tables and amazing views of the lake. We love visiting to see the dramatic natural formations made thousands of years ago.

In this guide, we’re going to show you how to make the most of your time at Chimney Bluffs State Park including how to hike the popular Bluff Trail.

Our Chimney Bluffs Experience

Two people posing together for a photo at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Mark and Kristen at Chimney Bluffs State Park in October

Kristen grew up in the NY Finger Lakes region only a few hours from the state park. We also temporarily lived in the area when Mark moved to the US in 2019. We’ve personally visited Chimney Bluffs State Park and the photos in this guide are from an October 2022 visit.

It was a crisp fall day and we hiked close to sunset in order to watch the colors fade over Sodus Bay. During this time of year, there was only a few other hikers and it was the perfect time to visit this gorgeous park. Our guide will show you hiking and photography insights along the popular Bluff Trail. Read more about us.

What Is Chimney Bluffs State Park?

Numerous chimney bluffs found along Lake Ontario
Perspective shot of the Chimney Bluffs along Lake Ontario
  • State Park: Chimney Bluffs
  • City: Wolcott
  • State: New York
  • Website:
  • Telephone: (315) 947-5205
  • Campgrounds: None
  • Activities: Hiking, fishing, picnicking
  • Open: All year
  • Annual Visitors: ~50,000

Chimney Bluffs State Park is located in the New York Finger Lakes region. It showcases one of the most dramatic landscapes on Lake Ontario. The park is unique because it’s home to numerous drumlins that raise 150 feet into the sky and the topography has been drawing visitors for decades.

These drumlins were created thousands of years ago by glaciers during the last ice age and they continually change into new formations due to erosion. Chimney Bluffs officially become a New York state park in 1963 stretching a total of 597 acres.

The eastern section of the park features wooded hiking trails with stunning views of the bluffs and Lake Ontario. While the western section of the park is very different with grassy trails and scrubland. There are hiking trails, picnic spots and endless photo opportunities. It’s open year round from dawn until dusk.

READ: Best state parks in New York

Directions To The Park

Gorgeous shoreline of rocks and trees at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Beautiful shoreline filled with pebble rocks

Chimney Bluffs State Park sits on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in the town of Huron in Wayne County. It’s located about 50 miles east of Rochester or 50 miles west of Syracuse almost right in the middle of these two larger cities.

  • Address: 7700 Garner Rd, Wolcott, NY 14590
  • Location: Google Maps

From Rochester, follow I-490 East and from Syracuse, follow I-490 West. Take exit 42 and then follow NY-14 to the park. Let’s take a quick look at driving distances and times from nearby major cities as well as the closest airports for you to consider if visiting from further afield.

Chimney Bluffs distance from nearby major cities:

  • Binghamton, NY – 125 miles (2h 15m)
  • Syracuse, NY – 55 miles (1h 10m)
  • Rochester, NY – 45 miles (60m)
  • Buffalo, NY – 120 miles (2h 10m)
  • Albany, NY – 190 miles (3h)

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Here are the closest airports near Chimney Bluffs State Park:

  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) – 55 miles (1h 10m)
  • Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) – 45 miles (60m)
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) – 115 miles (2h)

Many people visit this state park and the area around Sodus Point as part of a wider road trip. Wineries and Finger Lakes waterfalls are popular in this region of NY, particularly in summer and fall.

READ: Best places to visit in the Finger Lakes

Entrance Fees

Machine to pay entrance fees with cash or credit card
The automated machine to collect entrance fees

You don’t have to pay an entrance fee and you don’t need a reservation to visit Chimney Bluffs State Park. However, you might have to pay $5 for parking your vehicle depending on where you park.

Most New York state parks charge a day-use vehicle fee to enter each facility. So while Chimney Bluffs is free to enter, a vehicle fee is collected from April 1st to October 31st all day from dawn until dusk when the park closes.

Because this is a smaller park compared to nearby Letchworth State Park or the stunning Watkins Glen State Park, you can typically find parking unless you visit on a weekend in the summer when it’s extremely busy.

Two Parking Lots

Main parking lot with a few cars at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Large parking lot on the south entrance off Garner Road

There are two different parking lots at Chimney Bluffs State Park. The largest parking lot is on the south side located along Garner Road. This is a paved lot with many parking spaces and a restroom.

From this south parking lot, you can directly access the Meadow Trail which leads to all of the other hiking trails in the park. Payment for parking is not taken at the gate but at a machine where you can pay cash or card after finding a spot for your vehicle.

East parking lot for Chimney Bluffs State Park
East Bay Road gravel parking lot

The other smaller parking lot is located at the end of East Bay Road on the eastern side of the park. East Bay Road is paved the entire way, but once you reach the parking area, it becomes a dirt and gravel lot.

We always use this eastern lot because you don’t have to pay the vehicle entrance fee and you’ll have direct access to the bluffs. This free lot may be subject to change in the future, but if this is your first time in the park, we recommend you park at the east entrance so you can access the best sections quicker.


Chimney Bluffs State Park Trails

Wooden sign showing the different trails in the park

Hiking is the main attraction at Chimney Bluffs and there are a total of five hiking trails. The most popular hike is the Bluff Trail which is 1.29 miles in length one way. However, if you park on the east side, you won’t have to hike the entire trail to access the bluffs.

Here are the five Chimney Bluff hikes (distances are one way):

  1. Bluff Trail (BT) – 1.29 miles
  2. Drumlin Trail (DT) – 0.73 miles
  3. East-West Trail (EW) – 1.03 miles
  4. Garner Point (GP) – 0.75 miles
  5. Meadow Trail (MT) – 0.21 miles

We like the signs in the park because they will tell you exactly where you’re located on each trail. You can also use this trail map here during your visit to find the trails.

Bluff Trail Walkthrough

Woman walking along the shoreline of Lake Ontario
Kristen hiking in along the shoreline in the park

Let’s hike a section of the Bluff Trail via the east entrance. We won’t be hiking the entire trail because we also want to show you sections of the shore. When we visit Chimney Bluffs, we always walk the shoreline, but this is technically not considered an official hike.

We recommend starting with the Bluff Trail and then explore the remaining trails depending on your time frame. If you hike to the main sections of the bluffs and then turn around, your entire hike time will be about 1.0 hour. You can check the recent comments on AllTrails to see current conditions.

Without further ado, let’s hike the Bluff Trail:

1. East Entrance Parking Lot

White information sign at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Wooden information sign at the trailhead near the parking lot

For this hike we parked in the eastern gravel lot, but if you park in the main lot off Garner Road, you’ll need to look for the Meadow Trail first. This will connect with the Bluff Trail at the opposite end and you’ll walk the hike in reverse.

We always like to hike the Bluff Trail beginning at the eastern parking lot because it’s the most direct access. There is a vaulted restroom and the trail starts just beyond the small building. Look for a large wooden board at the trailhead which contains important information you may need to know about closures or dangers along the trail.

2. Climb The Stairs

Women walking up a wooden staircase at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Kristen and her mom climbing the stairs to Bluff Trail

Once you’ve made your way past the sign and the restroom, you’ll find a large wooden staircase winding its way through the woods. While this staircase may seem daunting, this is the worst part of the trail so you just have to reach the top.

A good thing about the staircase is that it’s totally covered in shade so it will help to keep you cooler on a hot day. If it’s recently rained, this stairs may be slippery and muddy so always use caution.

3. The Trail Begins

Woman walking through a forested section of a hiking trail
Kristen walking along a section of the Bluff Trail

At the top of the staircase, the trail will change into a soft hiking path and will continue along the coastline with minimal elevation changes. When we visited, a few sections along this trail were closed for revegetation purposes. Please respect the conservation efforts so we all help to rebuild this beautiful state park.

The Bluff Trail is dotted by red markers as you make your way along the path. Use these markers to help you find the correct trail if you decided to hike further into the park.

READ: Best apps for hiking

4. The Bluffs

Two large sand bluffs protruding from the ground near Sodus Bay
Bluff trail view of Lake Ontario

From the Bluff Trail, you’ll see the bluffs from behind. And we guarantee the first time you see them, you’ll do a double take because they look very out of place.

As you walk through the forest, the last thing you expect to see are sandy formations protruding from the ground. The bluffs are formed from eroded drumlins which have created uniquely pointed teardrop shaped hills jutting out from the side of the shore.

5. Continue Along The Bluffs

Large sand bluffs at Chimney Bluffs State Park
More sand bluffs from further down the trail

You can hike further along this trail a bit farther to see the remaining bluffs. There are about 8 major bluffs you can see from this side of the trail and the formations become less dramatic as you continue along the path.

After this point, you have two options.

Continue along the Bluff Trail to connect with any of the other hiking trails in the park or head back the way you came to venture down to the shoreline so you can see the bluffs from a different angle.

Don’t Miss The Shoreline

Shoreline of Chimney Bluffs State Park with Lake Ontario view
The rocky shoreline underneath the bluffs

While the shoreline is not an official hike at Chimney Bluffs, it’s always worth the trip to see the bluffs up close and personal. From the eastern parking lot, there are a few well trodden paths you can take to the shore. We always use the path located by the end of the road near the stop sign. Please do not make new paths so we minimize our environmental impact.

Once you make your way to the beach, you’ll instantly hear the calming sound of the waves crashing along the shore. The bluffs will be to your left as you look at Lake Ontario so head in that direction to see some of the best views in the park.

We always like to walk at least the length of the bluffs to appreciate the beauty nature has given us. You’ll find a hand boat launch so if you want to kayak or canoe, the small parking area on East Bay Road is your best bet.

Facilities And Safety

Vault toilets at Chimney Bluffs State Park east parking lot
Vault toilets available at the east parking lot

The south entrance has a public restroom while the east entrance has a vault toilet. There are no restaurants or cafes at the park, but there are a number of grills and picnic tables so you can bring your own food. Day use services include the picnic area, hiking trails and restrooms.

While it may be tempting to climb the bluffs, there is no climbing on the jagged spires throughout the entire park. Entering the area where the bluffs are located is dangerous because the entire ground surrounding the spires is very fragile. Just a little bit of weight can cause the ground to collapse.

Dogs and pets are allowed in day use areas, but owners should supervise pets at all times and they must always be on a leash. The Bluff Trail is often not recommended for dogs because it’s narrow and dangerous. You may also encounter other hikers which might make them nervous if they’re afraid of dogs so be mindful of others.

Swimming is prohibited at Chimney Bluffs State Park because there is no lifeguard or beach. However, you may see people wading or swimming along this section of the Lake Ontario shoreline. But it’s at your own risk and we wouldn’t recommend it. If you want to swim, check out the Sodus Beach Park with a life guarded swimming area only about a 20 minute drive away.

Best Time To Visit

Shoreline along Lake Ontario in upstate New York
Shoreline of Lake Ontario with very little beach

Chimney Bluffs State Park will be extremely busy on weekends between May and September, especially during holidays. We recommend avoiding the summer weekends because the park is not very big and it can become very cramped. If this is the only time you can visit, begin your day early to beat the crowds and the heat of the afternoon.

Our favorite time to visit Chimney Bluffs is the last week of September and first week of October because the area is filled with vibrant fall foliage and comfortable hiking conditions. We arrived around 3:00 pm on a mid day in October and only saw a few others hiking the trails.

In the winter, the park is popular for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. While in the spring, the snow begins to melt and the flowers are blooming along the trails. So it really depends on what you want to experience.

Where To Stay And Eat

If you don’t want to picnic in the park, your best option for food would be in the surrounding town of Sodus Point or Fair Haven nearby. Here are top rated options:



There is no camping at Chimney Bluffs State Park, but the closest campground is Lake Bluff Campground about 2.0 miles away. If you’re interested in camping check out the official website for more information. It has a variety of pet-friendly rental cabin options plus amazing amenities such as a heated pool, playgrounds, laundry and miniature golf.

Need a campground? Use our exclusive free trial of The Dyrt PRO to find both free and paid camp sites nearby.

The Morgan Conclusion

Women taking in the views of large sand Chimney Bluffs
Kristen admiring the formations from the Bluff Trail

Chimney Bluffs State Park is a hidden gem located along the shores of Lake Ontario in the New York Finger Lakes region. It’s an extremely popular spot in summer.

But is Chimney Bluffs State Park worth visiting?

Yes, we think Chimney Bluffs is worth it because you can see stunning clay formations in various sections of the park. It’s free to visit with a minimal parking fee depending on where you park. Our favorite things to do in the park are have a picnic, hike the Bluff Trail, watch the sunset over the bluffs and wander the shores of Lake Ontario.

You can not drive through Chimney Bluffs State Park and you must use the various hiking trails to get around. However, some of these trails are paved which lead to a picnic area and beautiful views.

Our Chimney Bluff Photos

We loved visiting these gorgeous sand formations in October during the fall foliage season so we took many photos. Here are a few of our favorites so you know exactly what to expect:

Sun and lush green foliage at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs view from the Bluff Trail
Woman standing on the shore of Lake Ontario near Chimney Bluffs State Park
Kristen on the shoreline during a sunset
Sun highlighting a sand bluff at Chimney Bluffs State Park
View of a large bluff from the shores of Lake Ontario
Purple flowers on a hiking trail in New York State
Beautiful purple flowers located along the hiking trail
Brown danger sign at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Danger sign indicating to stay off the bluffs
Woman standing on the Bluff Trail at Chimney Bluff State Park
Kristen posing for a photo with the bluffs
View of a large sand bluff from the side
Side profile of a large sand bluff
Red trail marker for the Bluff hiking trail at Chimney Bluffs State Park
Red marker found along the Bluff Trail
Two women walking up the stairs to Bluff Trail
Kristen and her mom hiking the large staircase along Bluff Trail
Silhouette of a woman walking along the shore
Kristen’s silhouette along the shoreline
Keep out sign to protect native vegetation
Keep out sign indicating revegetation of native plants
Shoreline and large sand bluffs along Lake Ontario
Large sand bluffs towering over the shoreline of Lake Ontario
Woman enjoying the views of Lake Ontario from a large log
Keep an eye out for many large logs along the shore line

More From The Finger Lakes

More From Upstate New York

Want more New York content? Head over to our New York Travel Guides to explore the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and the best of NYC.

We hope this guide to hiking the Bluff Trail at Chimney Bluffs State Park helps with planning your visit to upstate New York!

Please let us know if you have any questions about visiting this state park or upstate New York in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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