It’s getting to be that time of year again! While summer draws to a gentle close, the most beautiful time of year is just beginning in Buffalo, that special time when ordinary green leaves transform into a natural collage of living wonderment. 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 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 area doesn’t lack for options. This helps in making fall 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 at some of these favorite local spots.
Iroquois Nature Preserve
Easily the best locale to spot a wide variety of neo-tropical migratory birds, 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.
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 even 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. A person need only sit on the bench nearest 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 don’t move and they won’t mind.
93 Honorine Dr, Depew, NY 14043 / (716) 683-5959
Times Beach Nature Preserve
One of the more conspicuous, yet still overlooked, treasures of the city is Times Beach Nature Preserve. Adjacent to the Coast Guard’s location at the tip of the Outer Harbor, this park’s trees can be seen from the skyway and practically any part of the inner harbor. The destination has a number of twisting trails along with a boardwalk. A variety of viewing blinds offer great observation areas overlooking the reservoir. Moreover, you can walk along the break wall, have a picnic at one of the provided tables or ride along the miles of connected bike paths. The breeze coming in from the lake is always divine.
Coast Guard Station S Rd, Buffalo, NY 14203 / (716) 896-1271
North End of Fuhrmann Boulevard, next to the Coast Guard Station
The 1833 Buffalo Lighthouse
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. Joined by a host of additional marine artifacts, the lighthouse has a great view overlooking Lake Erie.
1 Fuhrmann Blvd, Buffalo, NY 14203
Officially voted “The Fishing Capital of America,” the town of Olcott features what are probably the two best piers of 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 near by.
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 – all right on the water.
Burt Dam Fishermen’s Park
A little ways down the road from Olcott is another great spot, 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 is dully audible, and the river rolls softly by. 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 up stream, as well as the many trout. You’ll frequently see them jump out of the water in a brilliant display of agility.
Old Wilson Burt Rd, Burt, NY 14028
Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride
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 extensive they truly are. The underground tunnels are man made, blasted out of solid rock during the industrial revolution. The tour features one of the nation’s longest underwater boat rides, a ropes course and even a zip line!
5 Gooding Street, Lockport, NY, 14094 / 716-438-0174
4 hour ghost hunters experience as on SYFY Channel
Haunted Cave (begins 10/13/15) and/or Lockport Mystery Tours
The trail circling this park is a little less than two miles. However, it is part of the Conservation Trail (171 miles) which passes through Akron Falls as part of the mind numbingly long (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 up the crisp fall air. Amid autumn foliage, the gentle thunder of the waterfall is quite serene.
44 Parkview Dr, Akron, NY 14001 / (716) 542-2330
You may not be able to fight city hall, but you can certainly climb it! As changes in foliage bring vivid colors and patterns, the local landscape is breathtaking when taken in from an aerial point of view. Although not particularly well known, the pinnacle of City Hall affords an excellent lookout point. A brief elevator ride to the top floor, and a short walk up three small flights of stairs, allows one to see for miles across Lake Erie and Western New York. On most days even the outline of Toronto can be seen in the distance. (M-F 8:30 to 5:00)
65 Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY 14202 / 716-851-4200
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