Sandra Scott Travels: Chimney Bluffs Takes On Mother Nature

Last week I asked: Where is Chimney Bluffs State Park?

Wolcott, New York.

Chimney Bluff
Chimney Bluff

I am constantly amazed at how many interesting things there are to see within an hour or so drive from my home; things I didn’t know about.

Plus, there are things that I have heard about but never visited.

Such is the case with Chimney Bluffs State Park in Wolcott.

Actually, I only heard about it a couple years ago but only visited recently.

The bluffs are eroded drumlins (teardrop-shaped hills) that were formed by glaciers and then shaped by wind, rain, snow and waves into what appear to be chimneys.

However, I think the bluff also brings to mind castles.

Lake view
Lake view

They are constantly eroding and I wonder how much the recent strong waves and winds have changed them.

It is said that they can erode one to five feet a year.

The area, like much of the shoreline of Lake Ontario, was once frequented by smugglers bringing in liquor from Canada during Prohibition.

The state acquired the land from a private owner and in 1999 built heated restrooms, a parking lot, picnic areas and hiking trails.

There is $5 usage fee, but no onsite ranger.

So there is an “honor” pay box.

It is open all year making it great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

reading the sign
Reading the sign

There are four miles of hiking trails including a one-mile trail along the bluff.

Actually, the bluff trail meanders through the woods with view points along the way.

At the end there is a stairway down to the shore.

Some walk the trail one way and the shore on the other.

Walkers are cautioned to stay away from the edge, as the waves have undercut the rims.

Nine Mile Point nuclear plant cooling towers are visible from most vantage points.

Besides the Bluff Trail there is also a Drumlin Trail, an East-West Trail and a short trail to Garner Point.

Please, be careful
Please, be careful

I find walking in the woods a great way to relax and feel mentally renewed – maybe it is all the oxygen.

Some of the trees along the path are quite impressive.

For those who aren’t into hiking there are benches with great views of the lake.

Along the path from the parking lot to the shore there is a fascinating tree.

One part of the tree has been bent to form a “U.”

Such trees are called “Thong Trees” or “Culturally Modified Trees.”

John and I have actually seen others but not in New York State.

Thong Tree
Thong Tree

Originally, the trees were bent by Native Americans as trail signs, but doubt that that specific tree is old enough.

John noticed something along the path that I would have missed.

I guess because I was so interested in the Thong Tree.

Nearby are two stumps.

The top has been smoothed off and each one has a memorial written on it.

Even though the writing has faded and some of the edges have worn away, it is possible to read some of it.

Memorial stump
Memorial stump

Both people were killed in the same accident and were only 20 years old.

The walkway from the parking lot to the shore is wheelchair accessible but the bluff trail is not.

Not too far away is Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum where there are many displays dealing with the area along with more great views of the lake.

There are also some great waterside restaurants but they are only open during the summer months.

Travel Trivia Tease™: Where can you see a beaver dam in the making?

Sodus Lighthouse Museum
Sodus Lighthouse Museum

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience.

We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

Let the fun continue!


  1. Thank you Sandy!! I worked down the road from there at a campground as Activities Director for the last few years. My knees have prevented me from hiking the trails but there is another entrance to the park on the east side. Park by the lake shore. Bathrooms but swimming not allowed. Possibly able to walk the shoreline in water shoes depending on what the high water this summer has fone!!!

  2. Wonderful article/review describing Chimney Bluffs State Park. I have not been there in decades and it is time. Restrooms yet! And, heated! How about that!

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