Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area / Park

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Six miles west of Rochester; in the Town of Greece;  Monroe County; New York

Maps: Google Map, Google Earth, Bing Maps; Interactive

GPS: Park entrance: N 43.29917 / W 77.71627
Owl Woods parking lot/trailhead: N 43.31875 / W 77.72589

Directions: To get to the Braddock Park,  take the Lake Ontario Parkway and head north on East Manitou Rd.
Or use Google Directions.

To get to Owl Woods and the Braddock Bay Raptor Research Banding Station, take the Lake Ontario Parkway and turn north onto Manitou Beach Rd. The parking lot and trailhead are just north of the Parkway exit.
Or use Google Directions.

Parking: Parking is ample within the town park or boat launch site. Parking for Owl Woods is located across from the trailhead on Manitou Beach Rd.

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Latest Greece, New York, weather conditions and forecastSeasons/Hours: Year round. The town park is “officially” open from 9 am to 10 pm. The rest of the WMA is open 24/7.

Best time to visit: The spring and fall migrations. Waterfowl are best spotted in mid to late March. Hawk migration peaks in late April. The best time for songbirds is mid-May. Owls are best spotted March through April.

Time: Take at least a few hours to walk the trails and spot birds.

Parking: Parking is ample within the town park or boat launch site. Parking for Owl Woods is located across from the trailhead on Manitou Beach Rd.

Admission: Free.

Handicap accessibility: Yes, to the pavilion.

Pets: Yes, on leash, with proof of inoculation. Not allowed on the observation platform, boardwalk, or in the lodge.

Boat Launch: A trailer boat launch is located at the north end of the park off of E. Manitou Rd on the east side of Manitou Bay. This marina is run by a private firm under license from the Town of Greece. Hand launches are also possible at this end of the bay.

Swimming: Prohibited in any of the bays or Lake Ontario

Accommodations: Enclosed lodge (with kitchen); pavilions; restrooms; observation platform; picnic tables; grills; playground; educational signage; hiking trails; fishing; some hunting; hand and trailer boat launch; marina.

Reserve a pavilion online here.

Contact Information

Wildlife Management Area:
DEC Region 8
6274 E. Avon-Lima Rd.
Avon, NY 14414-9519
Phone: (585) 226-2466
e-mail

Boat Launch / Marina:
Braddock Bay Marina
105 East Manitou Road
Rochester, NY14612
Phone: (585) 227-1579
Fax: (585) 227-6442
braddockbaymarina.com

Town Park / Reservations:
Town of Greece Parks
1 Vince Tofany Blvd,
Greece, NY 14612
Phone: (585) 225-2000
greeceny.gov/parks

Raptor counts / rescue / protection:
Braddock Bay Raptor Research
185 Pond Road, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472
Phone: (585) 267-5483
e-mail

Description

Tagging wild hawksThe Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) encompasses over 2,500 acres of state-owned and town-leased land surrounding numerous ponds, marshes and, of course, Braddock Bay. To be precise, besides surrounding Braddock Bay the WMA also surrounds Buck Pond, the southern ends of Cranberry and Long Pond. It also includes Rose Marsh and portions of Salmon and Buttonwood Creeks.

These highly productive waters and marshlands offer excellent nesting and feeding opportunities for waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, owls, and songbirds. Over 310 different bird species have been identified here, including more than 130 species of song birds and 23 of raptors. Spring (primarily the months of March and April) brings hundreds of thousands of migrating birds, as well as numerous onlookers, in what is considered one of the premier bird-watching events in the country: the Spring Hawk Watch. Research organizations and volunteers report viewings of visiting raptors, including Peregrine Falcons, Swainson’s Hawks, and Swallow-tail Kites. The adjacent wooded areas fill with migrating Owls, such as the Great Horned and the Northern Saw-whet.

The cattail marshes that line the lakeside pond and Braddock Bay are crammed with various waterfowl and songbirds. Rare species can be found, such as the Black Tern, Sandhill Crane, American White Pelican, Cave Swallow, Sage Thrasher, and more. You may not be able to see all of the varieties of birds here, but you will certainly be able to hear a lot of them.

The bay is popular with boaters and fishermen in the summer months. Sometimes it will get pretty crowded. Some boaters will ignorantly stir things up with excessive speed. There is a public boat launch on the east side of the bay if you want to experience it from the water. Some say that being on the bay offers the best sighting opportunities.

Although not as exciting as spring, the fall migration brings most migrating species back. This is a great time to spot waterfowl near the shore.

On the east side of Braddock Bay, off of East Manitou Rd, is a 440 acre municipal park maintained by the Town of Greece. In addition to the typical town park amenities, you will find a sturdy boardwalk leading into the cattail marsh along the bay, as well as an observation platform and learning center. The park is very well kept, but can get loud when there are parties at the lodge.

The park also features a fully-equipped public boat launch and small dock (in addition to the adjacent marinas), but in recent years usage has dwindled. A natural sandbar has been closing off access to Lake Ontario from the bay, not unlike the larger, permanent bars that isolate the nearby Cranberry, Long and Buck Ponds. In the past, the Town of Greece, as well as private marinas have covered the cost of dredging, but no one seems to be able to afford it anymore. The boating business, as well as the housing market surrounding the bay is struggling. It remains to be seen how the formation of a permanent sandbar on the bay will affect the wildlife within.

Braddock Bay

Hiking / Walking Trails

Difficulty: Easy.

Markings: Some signage around the park.

Distance: Almost 5 miles worth.

Description: Between the ponds and marshes The Cranberry Pond Nature Trail. This 3.8 mile trail meanders through wooded areas, across roads, and touches upon wetland habitats. The hike here is mild, with ample opportunity to spot birds, muskrats, beavers and more. When we hiked there in 2007, the trails were overgrown and muddy, but still worth the hike. Be sure to pick up a trail guide at the kiosk near the park restrooms.

A network of dirt trails extends through Owl Woods and Rose Marsh on the western end of the WMA. Here the trails loop around and branch out in various directions (usually towards pine trees that owls frequent). Although the main trails are generally clear and without incline, they do get awful muddy in the spring. A trail heading directly north will lead to a secluded strip of beach along the lake.

Map: Cranberry Pond Trail Map

Braddock Bay Interactive Map

Drag the map or click the arrows to move around and use the +/- to zoom in or out. Click on the icons for more information. This map is not accurate. Caution and common sense should be used when hiking.

View Braddock Bay Park in a larger map

History

The WMA was once owned by the Office of Parks and Recreation and handed over to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)  in 1982. Some land remained in a lease to the Town of Greece. The DEC has made an agreement to assist the town with environmental management of the leased land.

Interesting Stuff

Outside Braddock Bay

The view from neighboring businesses can often be better than those from the park. The eateries surrounding the WMA can be a great place to grab a bite to eat while you getting a better view. Numerous marinas, bars and shops can also be helpful.

Get close to the sandbar

Follow Manitou Beach Rd north until it curves to the right and ends just after a large house. Park and follow the trail down the peninsula to shore. This location offers both an excellent vantage point for sunrises over the lake and a closer look at waterfowl.

The Braddock Bay Bird Observatory

Northwest of the bay, is a small patch of land and a lab facility owned by the Genesee Land Trust and run as an independent not-for-profit. The station is dedicated to ornithological research, education and conservation. The banding, counting and record keeping done at this station helps to understand migratory behavior. The observatory offers a variety of educational programs. bbbo.org

Braddock Bay Raptor Research

Braddock Bay Raptor Research is an organization, founded in 1986, that is “working towards preserving the area’s natural resources by focusing research and educational activities on the spectacular raptor migration.” The organization features education programs for the public, special events, volunteer opportunities, raptor banding station, owl migration trail, and a blind that is open to the public. bbrr.org

Photography Tips

Birds of Prey

  • Your best strategy for capturing hawks and eagles in flight is from a blind. Get to the park during the migration and find a secluded spot with a nice vantage point to set up your blind. Be sure to post signs around your blind to let passers-by know of your purpose. Use a long telephoto, tripod, and set your ISO high.

Hawk Capture

  • You are encouraged to check out the hawk tagging techniques and you may even see a capture and release. Approach the blind in Owl Woods and follow the instructions on the sign posted on the trail leading to it. Members of the organization will be glad to teach you about their techniques and purpose.

More tips

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