Chimney Bluffs State Park is a unique landscape located along the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate New York near Sodus Bay.
This small park is one of the best things to do in the NY Finger Lakes region because it features clay bluffs rising almost 200 ft above the shoreline in thin yet fragile spires.
A visit to this stunning NY state park is not easily forgotten and in our detailed guide, we will show you:
- Where to find Chimney Bluffs State Park
- Entrance fee and parking information
- 8 best things to do at Chimney Bluffs
- Chimney Bluffs State Park hiking trails
- Best time of year and day to visit
- Where to eat and stay nearby
- Tips for your visit
Now, let’s hike to Chimney Bluffs State Park!
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Our Chimney Bluffs State Park Experience
Kristen is a New York State native growing up in the Finger Lakes region only a few hours from Chimney Bluffs State Park.
We also temporarily lived in the region when Mark first moved to the US in 2019 and we have visited Chimney Bluffs State Park several times.
The photos we have included in this guide are from one of our visits to Chimney Bluffs in early October. 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 barely anyone else in the park with us and it was a perfect visit to this gorgeous area.
What Can You Expect From This Guide?
This comprehensive first time visitor guide covers everything you need to plan the perfect visit to Chimney Bluffs State Park in upstate New York.
Our main focus is to provide you with hiking and photography insights along the Bluff Trail and show you what to expect at this small NY state park.
We want you to be fully prepared so you can make the most of your visit to Chimney Bluff State Park.
Stony Brook State Park Factfile
- State Park: Chimney Bluffs
- City: Wolcott
- State: New York
- Address: 7700 Garner Road
- Telephone: (315) 947-5205
- Campgrounds: None
- Area: 597 Acres
- Things To Do: Hiking, fishing, picnicking
- Open: All year
- Annual Visitors: ~50,000
Chimney Bluffs State Park is open year round from dawn until dusk.
Where Is Chimney Bluffs State Park?
Chimney Bluffs State Park sits on the southern shore of Lake Ontario to the east of beautiful Sodus Bay in the town of Huron in Wayne County of upstate New York.
You can find this smaller NY state park located about 50 miles east of Rochester or 50 miles west of Syracuse almost right in the middle of these two larger cities.
Driving Distances And Airports
Let’s take a quick look at driving distances and times to Chimney Bluffs State Park 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)
Many people visit this state park and the area around Sodus Point as part of a wider Finger Lakes road trip.
Wineries and waterfalls in the Finger Lakes draw visitors to this region of NY, particularly in summer and fall.
Search for your flights using the best search engine, Skyscanner. We love this platform because it compares prices on all flight platforms to find you the best deal.
The same goes for renting a car when you get to a New York airport. Get a benchmark price using Rental Cars then see if you can beat it.
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)
Chimney Bluffs State Park Entrance Fees
Visitors do not pay an entrance fee to gain entry into Chimney Bluffs State Park, which means you do not have to pay anything to walk the Bluffs Trail.
In addition, you do not need a reservation to enter Chimney Bluffs State Park. It is free to enter from dawn to dusk during open season for as long as you desire.
But most New York State Parks charge a day-use vehicle fee to enter each facility. So while Chimney Bluffs is free to enter, you will pay US$ 5 for parking your vehicle.
This 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 don’t have to worry much about parking unless you are visiting in peak season during summer.
Parking Options At Chimney Bluffs State Park
There are two different parking lots and entrances for Chimney Bluffs State State Park. The main entrance located on the southern edge of the park and the east entrance located closer to the bluffs.
Chimney Bluffs South Entrance Parking
The largest parking lot for Chimney Bluffs is on the south side of the state park located along Garner Road. This is a paved parking lot with many parking spaces and offers 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.
Chimney Bluffs East Entrance Parking
The other smaller parking lot for Chimney Bluffs State Park 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 lot, it turns into a dirt and gravel lot.
While this parking lot is smaller, we always use this lot because you do not have to pay the vehicle entrance fee and you have direct access to the bluffs.
At least when we visited in October 2022, there was no entrance fee for this side of the park, but this may be subject to change in the future.
If this is your first time to Chimney Bluffs, we recommend you park at the east entrance so you can access the best section of the park quickly.
Chimney Bluffs State Park Trails
Hiking is the main attraction at Chimney Bluffs State Park and there are a total of five Chimney Bluff hiking trails.
The most popular hike at Chimney Bluffs is the Bluff Trail which is 1.29 miles in length one way. However, if you park on the east side of the park, you won’t have to hike the entire trail to access the bluffs.
Here are the five Chimney Bluff hikes (distances are one way):
- Bluff Trail (BT) – 1.29 miles
- Drumlin Trail (DT) – 0.73 miles
- East-West Trail (EW) – 1.03 miles
- Garner Point (GP) – 0.75 miles
- Meadow Trail (MT) – 0.21 miles
Use this Chimney Bluffs State Park trail map here to explore new trails.
8 Best Things To Do At Chimney Bluffs State Park
If you are looking for things to do at Chimney Bluffs State Park, you have a few other options.
Here are 8 things you can do at Chimney Bluffs State Park:
- Have a picnic
- Hunt responsibility
- Try catching some fish
- Hike any of the 5 trails
- Enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage
- Watch the sunset over the bluffs
- Snowmobile or snowshoe in winter
- Wander the shores of Lake Ontario
Just keep in mind, if you want to fish or hunt in this state park, you will need a valid New York license.
Popular Bluff Trail Hike Walkthrough
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 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 out the comments on AllTrails to see what hikers have recently said about Bluff Trail hiking conditions.
1. Begin At The East Entrance Parking Lot
You can begin hiking the Bluff Trail directly at the east entrance parking lot. In the corner of the lot, you will see a vaulted restroom and the trail starts just beyond the small building.
There is a large wooden board at the trailhead which sometimes contains important information you may need to know about closures or dangers along the trail.
2. Climb The Stairs
Once you have made your way past the sign and the restroom, you will 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 once you have reached the top, the hike will be much easier.
We love how the staircase is under the trees so even on a hot day, you will climb in the shade.
3. The Trail Begins
At the top of the staircase, the trail will change into a soft hiking path and will continue 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 help to rebuild this beautiful state park.
You will also notice red trails markers for the Bluff Trail 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.
4. First Sign Of The Bluffs
From the Bluff Trail, you can see the bluffs from behind. But the first time you see the bluffs, they make you second guess what you are seeing 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.
These bluffs are formed from eroded drumlins which have created uniquely pointed teardrop shaped hills jutting out from the side of the shore.
Interestingly, the bluffs found in this park have existed for thousands of years and continue to change as they continuously erode into new formations.
5. Continue Along The Bluffs
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 so it won’t take much time.
But 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.
Why You Should Visit The Shoreline
While the shoreline is not an official hike at Chimney Bluffs State Park, it is always worth the trip to see these bluffs up close and personal.
From the 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.
You will have immediate access to the shoreline and almost instantly you can 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.
Almost immediately you will be able to see the bluff in your sight of view. We always like to walk at least the length of the bluffs to appreciate the beauty nature has given us.
This is also where you will 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.
Can You Climb The Chimney Bluffs?
While it may be tempting to climb the bluffs, there is absolutely no climbing on the jagged spires in Chimney Bluff State 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.
It is also important to leave no trace as we explore the NY State Park so future generations can also enjoy these beautiful areas.
Are Dogs Allowed At Chimney Bluffs State Park?
Yes, dogs and pets are allowed in day use areas at Chimney Bluffs State Park. Owners should supervise pets at all times and they should not be on a leash longer than 6 ft in length.
The Bluff Trail is often not recommended for dogs because it is narrow and dangerous. You may come within close proximity to other hikers which can make others uncomfortable if they are afraid of dogs.
Proof of rabies vaccination may also be required if asked by park staff.
Can You Swim At Chimney Bluffs State Park?
No, swimming is prohibited at Chimney Bluffs State Park because there is no lifeguard or beach.
That being said, you may often see people wading or swimming from this section of the Lake Ontario shoreline. Please keep in mind all swimming is at your own risk.
If you want to swim, we recommend you check out the Sodus Beach Park with a guarded swimming area only about a 20 minute drive from Chimney Bluffs State Park.
Best Time To Visit Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park will be extremely busy on weekends between May and September, particularly during holidays.
From experience, we recommend staying clear on these days unless it’s the only time you can make your visit.
Best Time Of Year
The last week of September and first week of October are the two best weeks of the year to visit Chimney Bluffs State Park.
This time of year brings vibrant fall foliage and the surrounding area comes alive with color bringing along extremely comfortable hiking conditions.
Summer is extremely hot and busy at Chimney Bluffs. You also won’t experience fall colors, but you will see lush emerald green leaves and enjoy warm temperatures perfect for water sports.
In the winter, this 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.
Best Time Of Day
If you are visiting in summer, early morning is by far the best time of day to hike Chimney Bluffs State Park. You will beat the crowds and be able to enjoy the trails with minimal people around.
But if you are visiting in any of the other seasons, you have a good chance of having the entire park to yourself.
We arrived around 3:00 pm on a mid day in October and only saw a few others hiking the trails.
When To Avoid
This small state park can be extremely busy on weekends between May and August, particularly holiday weekends. We recommend avoiding the rush between 11:00am – 2:00pm.
What Facilities Are Available At Chimney Bluffs State Park?
The south entrance of has a restroom while the east entrance of the park 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 picnic along. Day use services include the picnic area, hiking trails and restrooms.
Where To Stay And Eat In The Area
If you do not want to picnic in the park, your best option for food would be in the surrounding town of Sodus Point or Fair Haven nearby.
Restaurants Near Chimney Bluffs State Park:
- Captain Jack’s Goodtime Tavern – Airy waterfront eatery with a scenic deck
- Riley’s Bar & Grill – Lunch and dinner with food specials and live music
- The Heights Restaurant – Grill with lakefront dining and beautiful views
- The Saltbox Smokehouse – A rustic smokehouse & deli
Hotels Near Chimney Bluffs State Park:
- The Inn at Burnap’s – Quaint Inn located near Beach Wood State Park
Chimney Bluff State Park Camping
There is no camping at Chimney Bluff State Park, but the closest campground is Lake Bluff Campground about 2.0 miles away.
If you are interested in Lake Bluff Campground, check out the official website for more information about the Lake Ontario RV resort, tent sites and cabin rentals.
Lake Bluff Campground has a variety of pet-friendly rental cabin options in addition to amazing amenities such as a heated pool, playgrounds, laundry and even miniature golf.
Chimney Bluffs State Park Photos
We loved visiting these gorgeous sand formations in October during the fall foliage season so we took many photos. Here are some of our favorites highlighting the beauty of Chimney Bluffs:
FAQ’s For Chimney Bluffs State Park
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Chimney Bluffs State Park.
Yes, Chimney Bluffs State Park is worth visiting because you can view stunning clay formations along the shores of Lake Ontario from the Bluff Trail or the shoreline.
Yes, there is a $5 vehicle fee to enter Chimney Bluffs, but if you park in the east lot off East Bay Road, you do not have to pay the vehicle fee.
No, you can not walk or climb on the Chimney Bluffs because they are very fragile and can break with weight. However, the Bluff Trail will allow you to see the bluffs from behind and you can also see the bluffs up close from the shoreline.
No, you can not drive through Chimney Bluffs State Park, but you can use the 5 hiking trails to navigate your way through the entire park. There are two parking lots with the east parking lot giving you the best access point to the bluffs.
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We hope this guide to hiking the Bluffs 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 Chimney Bluffs State Park hiking or upstate New York in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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