Parks & Hills

Parks & hills play an important role in the Upper Monroe neighborhood.

Cobbs Hill Park

According to the Olmstead Parks Alliance, Cobb’s Hill Park was named after Edna Cobb who previously owned the land. It is the only major Rochester park still under city control. The park was expanded in 1922 after the creation of the Barge Canal system moved the canal’s route south of the city, making extensive amounts of land available for other uses, when George Eastman donated an additional 15 acres of land. His donation came with the caveat that the City of Rochester acquire the adjoining Eastern Widewaters tract that had once been part of the Erie Canal. Public donations ($35,625.00), the City of Rochester ($5,625.00), and other donations of small parcels of land combined to make up the current park. With the funds, the city purchased the old right-of-way near the park as well as the Eastern Widewaters, which now feature both a small pond and several playing fields, and a basketball court.
Cobb's Hill Park features 109 acres of beauty, recreation, and scenic trails. At the park's highest point, a walking trail offers one of the best views of the city. At road level, a collection of lilacs and original tree plantings makes this park a horticultural gem. During summer nights, Cobb's Hill Park bustles with players from local softball leagues.
Lake Riley, formerly a part of the Erie Canal eastern wide waters (a spot where boats could turn, pull over, pass other boats), is visible from Culver Road and runs along Norris Drive towards Winton Road South. It's natural beauty and dueling fountain-like sprays that help circulate water in the lake, naturally attract summer sunbathers, picnickers, hikers, frisbee-players and children to its grassy shore.
Lake Riley 2023
Lake Riley 2023
Lake Riley 2023
Historic marker Lake Riley 2023
View of the wide waters from Cobbs Hill circa 1900
Culver Road looking north. Age unknown.
Tennis courts at Cobbs Hill Park. Age unknown.
Ice skating at Lake Riley ended in 1991. CLICK HERE to read more about ice skating at Lake Riley here.
Former POW barracks at Cobbs Hill Park
Early 20th century view of the Wide Waters
Early photo of Lake Riley
Former ice skating at Lake Riley
Early 20th century view of Culver Road Armory
A portion of Cobbs Hill Park is a designated landmark and, as such, any work done in that section is subject to review by the Rochester Preservation Board. In early 2024 when a sign was posted at a site in the park notifying the public of the City's intent to construct two pavilions it was (re)discovered that the preservation district boundaries were modified to exclude Lake Riley (the eastern wide waters) in 1972 for technical reasons. Click here if you would like to follow us "peel the local history onion" of this historic district.

Cobbs Hill Park Amenities & Attractions

View of the gate house and reservoir pump house on Cobbs Hill looking due east from Pinnacle Hill circa 1900
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From the Olmstead Parks Alliance website:
"The Olmsted Brothers’ firm was engaged to design the reservoir, its entrances, related buildings, and the steep quarried slopes on either side of the reservoir itself. In addition to the design, the firm spent considerable time determining what tree species would best stabilize the steep slopes that were the outcome of earlier quarrying."
The Cobb's Hill Reservoir is a favorite spot for runners who do laps around the sparkling water-filled basin.
Washington Grove is a 26-acre old growth Oak-Hickory forest located in the southeastern corner of the City of Rochester. It forms part of Cobbs Hill Park and is extensively used by people from Rochester and surrounding communities as a public amenity and green lung. A group of citizens purchased the 26 acres to prevent it being used as a gravel pit, and in 1912 transferred the land to the City of Rochester as dedicated parkland. In 1932 the grove, on the bicentennial of his birth, was dedicated to George Washington. You can read more about the history of the Grove in this pamphlet, written in the years following the park’s dedication.

Some photos from a tour of Washington Grove co-sponsored by UMNA in June, 2023:

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Facilities available in Cobbs Hill Park: Ball Fields Basketball Court - Outside Cross Country Skiing Fishing Football/Soccer Large Group Accommodation Play Apparatus Playground Scenic Area Tennis Courts Hiking Trails Lodges
Cabins: Cobbs Hill Park boasts two cabins that the public can reserve. Look into renting the Tay House or Lake Riley Lodge for your next event! To book a lodge online visit https://www.cityofrochester.gov/lodges/.
Fitness Court at Cobb's Hill
The Fitness Court at Cobb's Hill is the first outdoor court of its kind in New York State and makes physical fitness free and accessible to community residents. The fitness court was made possible through the support and generosity of MVP Health Care, as well as the National Fitness Campaign. Rochester was selected by the National Fitness Campaign as one of only 300 Cities nationwide to have an outdoor fitness court!
The outdoor circuit training system includes 30 pieces of equipment, allowing users of all skill levels to leverage their body weight at different angels and resistance levels to increase mobility and muscular strength. Residents can also take advantage of the free Fitness Court App which acts as a how-to guide and a "personal coach in your pocket.
The Court is open to the public free of charge with the purpose of promoting front-end health and wellness. Individuals utilizing the court must be 14 years and older. Pets are not permitted on the Fitness Court (service animals only). All pets must always be on a leash within Cobb’s Hill Park.
Cobbs Hill is also home to Cobbs Hill Village Redevelopment

Pinnacle Hill

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Pinnacle Hill is the highest point in Rochester, reaching 749 feet above sea level (or 506 feet above the city's lowest point at Lake Ontario). Pinnacle Hill features walking trails with varying topography.
Originally referred to as Mount Monroe (in an 1829 deed), but by 1838, it was known as Pinnacle Hill. It is one of a range of four hills (originally five) collectively termed "the Pinnacle Range" that runs along the city's southern and southeastern boundary. The four hills are Cobbs Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Highland Hill (in Highland Park) and Mount Hope (in Mount Hope Cemetery). The fifth hill, Oak Hill, was leveled for the construction of the original Oak Hill Country Club, which later became the River Campus of the University of Rochester.
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Pinnacle Hill's elevation is augmented by five broadcast towers. While virtually the entire hill is privately owned by various entities, there is a network of trails accessible from Field Street just off of Clinton Avenue. There are some excellent views from the Southern flank of the summit.
On the Northeast side of the hill is the headquarters of the Hillside Children's Center, formerly the Rochester Orphan Asylum.
The broadcast towers atop the hill are the source of almost all of the over-the-air television service in the city, as well as a good portion (I dare say majority) of the FM radio transmissions. In 2004, the [WWW]National Radio Club's convention was held in Batavia and a day trip to Pinnacle Hill was undertaken — see [WWW]this page between "Pinnacle Hill gate" and "WXXI/WUHF, WOKR towers" for the pictures.
Pinnacle Hill, a significant landmark for the Seneca, remains enormously important to the region.
Former St. Patrick's Cemetery on Pinnacle Hill: Pinnacle Hill

Rochester Orphan Asylum (now Hillside Children's Center) on Pinnacle Hill

Democrat & Chronicle - June, 1918

Highland Park

Although Highland Park is not located in Upper Monroe, it's lilacs and other plantings are within walking distance.
Please see our Gardens & Gardening page for information about other natural amenities found in the Upper Monroe neighborhood.

More

Check out our Points of Interest page to see cool stuff and plot out an interesting walk through the neighborhood.