6 Winter Hiking Spots in WNY to Embrace the Chill

winter hiking
Photo courtesy of Letchworth State Park

It’s no secret, winters in Buffalo can be truly brutal. As much as we love the snow, it can be exhausting to see yet another lake-effect storm creep up into the forecast, and getting slapped in the face by a gust of freezing wind the second you step outside in the morning isn’t exactly “motivating.”

Bad weather aside, there’s still some great ways to stay active in the wintertime, even in Western New York. Instead of hibernating inside and waiting for better weather to arrive, we challenge you to brave the cold this season, get some much-needed fresh air, and take advantage of these essential winter hiking spots that are sure to keep you from going stir crazy in your home. Just be sure to bundle up before you head out!

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1. Chestnut Ridge State Park 

6121 Chestnut Ridge Road in Orchard Park / Website

The beloved eternal flame at Chestnut Ridge State Park is always burning- even when it’s downright frigid outside. The park has a number of trails to explore, but the eternal flame trail is a pretty quick 0.7 mile loop that would be perfect for some quick hiking in the cold. 




2. Tifft Nature Preserve

1200 Fuhrmann Blvd / Website

The 264-acre Tifft Nature Preserve is a nature-lover’s paradise. Offering 1.9 miles of trails that cross boardwalks and wind through ponds, marshes, and woodlands, the area is situated on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor and is super accessible from almost anywhere in the city.


3. Knox Farm State Park 

437 Buffalo Road in East Aurora / Website

If you’re looking to turn your winter hiking outing into a full-on day trip, Knox Farm is the place to go. Located just outside of the village of East Aurora, this historic park offers over 600 acres of nature to explore and plenty of wildlife to observe. Hop on one of the hiking trails that weaves in and out of the park’s scenic woods; you’ll be walking in a winter wonderland in no time. 


4. Buckhorn Island State Park

E River Road on Grand Island / Website 

Frequently overlooked for more popular spots nearby, Buckhorn Island State Park is a quiet and secluded (not-so) hidden gem on the northern tip of Grand Island. Its well-kept trails are pretty easy for anyone to follow, making this a perfect family and dog-friendly destination for a winter hike.  



5. Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve

93 Honorine Dr in Depew / Website

The 2.8 mile trail at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve is accessible year-round and always ready to be explored. Enjoy beautiful views of the complex while you loop around the park’s peaceful pond, or follow the Beech Tree Trail to take a peek at the largest American beech tree in New York State. 



6. Letchworth State Park

1 Letchworth State Park Rd / Website

We all know and love Letchworth in the summer and fall, but trust us when we say that winter hiking at Letchworth State Park is super underrated. “The Grand Canyon of the East” offers beautiful, snow-covered views during this time of year, and it’ll likely be way less crowded than it is in the summer months, which is a win-win, for sure. 


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