Striking a happy medium between the stifling heat of August and the bitter cold of December, Fall is the quintessential season to sample every unique experience that Buffalo has to offer.
As the scenery changes so do the flavor of events, wildlife, and opportunity for enjoyment in Western New York. On a crisp, bright day our neck of the woods doesn’t lack options. Needless to say, Fall is by far the greatest time of year to appreciate nature. The transformation of everything around us happens at a sneakily rapid pace, so don’t hesitate to enjoy it at some of these favorite local spots!
1. Iroquois Nature Preserve
Easily the best local to spot to spectate a wide variety of neo-tropical migratory birds, plus this natural sanctuary also offers an expanse of trails to traverse. This park is one of the largest preserves in Western New York. It’s lush, lively marshland is simply brimming with wildlife. Keep your eyes open, and make sure to bring binoculars.
2. Reinstein Woods
93 Honorine Dr, Depew, NY 14043
Once a private estate, this property was donated to the community as a nature refuge. Dr. Victor Reinstein himself spent years of his life cultivating the perfect habitat for all sorts of wildlife. Thanks to his dedication, the landscape now includes an abundance of large ponds, acres of forest, and a formidable learning center equipped with public restrooms.
The paramount time of day to schedule a visit is just before nightfall. Screech owls can be heard and seen from all directions. Similar to the neighing of a horse, you’ll be able to hear them calling back and forth to each other. However, there’s something you surely won’t want to miss right on the main trail.
Straight back from the initial entrance is an odd dirt path, crossing the grass walkway. Worn down from use, this perpendicular trail looks as if it’s been mowed much too frequently by a lawnmower…This is not the case.
Although most people won’t think twice, this small mysterious path is easily the most exhilarating part of the park. You can sit on the bench nearest to the water, perhaps seven feet away, to see exactly what kills that grass. Every night like clockwork, a small colony of beavers make the journey from one pond to another. As nocturnal creatures they’re likely looking for a meal.
If you stay silently still, the beavers will lumber right by; it’s truly an incredible experience. Likewise, they’ll take notice of your presence, but if you don’t move, then they won’t mind.
3. The 1833 Buffalo Lighthouse
1 Fuhrmann Blvd, Buffalo, NY 14203
Adjacent to Times Beach, and newly open to the public, is the Buffalo Lighthouse. Built in 1833, it’s no longer in use, but you can certainly still enjoy it. The lighthouse has a great view overlooking Lake Erie which is joined by a host of additional marine artifacts.
4. Olcott Pier
Officially voted “The Fishing Capital of America,” the town of Olcott features arguably the two best piers in the state. Obviously they’re great for fishing, but it’s nice to just walk along the water for a change of pace once in a while. The piers are a great spot to watch the sun go down, and swans can be seen from time to time at the old docks nearby.
The town of Olcott in its self is a quaint, character rich area with a variety of appealing shops. The town has its own lighthouse, beach, carousel, and park area – right on the water.
5. Burt Dam Fishermen’s Park
Old Wilson Burt Rd, Burt, NY 14028
A little ways down the road from Olcott is another great spot known as Burt Dam Fishermen’s Park. Here in the little town of Burt is a hidden gem, tucked away somewhat obscurely. After you park, head down the hill and into the gorge. You can take the stairs or just walk down the steep slope. Regardless, when you reach the bottom the area feels like its own little corner of the world. The rush of the water over the dam sings nature’s sweet melody, and the river rolls by softly.
During late September and most of October, the salmon “run” peaks. This is the best time to visit because you’ll be able to witness the thousands of Chinook and Coho salmon swimming upstream, as well as many trout. You’ll frequently see them jump out of the water in a brilliant display of agility.
6. Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride
5 Gooding Street, Lockport, NY, 14094
These extensive Lockport caves are a great way to spend an afternoon. You can take a group tour and get to see first hand how profound they truly are. The underground tunnels are a man made artifact, blasted out of solid rock during the industrial revolution. The tour features one of the nation’s longest underwater boat rides and more!
7. Akron Falls
44 Parkview Dr, Akron, NY 14001
The trail circling this park is a little less than two miles in length. However, it is part of the Conservation Trail (171 miles) which passes through Akron Falls which is a branch of the extensive (900+ miles) Finger Lakes Trail System. There are two separate waterfalls at Akron Falls, and each is quite formidable. The lookout point of the upper falls is the perfect spot to soak in the crisp fall air. Amidst autumn foliage, the gentle thunder of the waterfall is quite serene.
This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.
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