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The Best Hiking Gems in WNY You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

City Guide, Health & Wellness, Things to Do

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Written by Francesca Bond

Published on April 6, 2021
Golden Hill State Park // Photo x Francesca Bond

Here in Buffalo, we are so lucky to be surrounded by lots of gorgeous hiking spots. So lucky, in fact, that sometimes it can get a little overwhelming when you want to make sure you hit all the best ones. We’ve all heard of the popular ones, but if you’re looking for something a little more ‘off the beaten path, check out these totally awesome, lesser-known nature trails.

As you visit please remember to leave no trace, bring any and all of your trash with you, and generally leave your surroundings better than how you found them!

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1. Golden Hill State Park

9691 Lower Lake Rd, Barker / parks.ny.gov

Located right on Lake Ontario in the quaint village of Barker, Golden Hill is an adorable state park with gorgeous trails along the water as well as through the dense woods and streams. Activities include camping, kayaking and hiking. Looking to spend the night in style? The now offer yurts, which are more heavy duty tents, and if you’re really looking for a relaxing weekend, stay the night at the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse. The historic landmark is available to rent and perfect for a cozy staycation in WNY and to fulfill your wildest dreams of living in a lighthouse, if only for a weekend. Not looking to spend the whole night? Tours of the lighthouse are offered every hour for just $1 per person, and they take you up to the top so you can get a beautiful view of the lake and park.

2. Moss Lake

Sand Hill Rd, Houghton / nature.org

Located in Alleghany County, Moss Lake is 82 acres of paradise found only about an hour southeast of Buffalo. With a number of campsites and plenty of hiking trails, this lake is the perfect hiking destination in you’re looking for somewhere that isn’t crowded so you can really connect with nature.

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Griffis Sculpture Park // Photo x Facebook

3. Griffis Sculpture Park

6902 Mill Valley Road, East Otto / griffispark.org

This park is a little bit different from the others. Not only does this park have gorgeous nature trails, but along the trails there are many beautiful art sculptures. With over 250 sculptures, you can just wander around and stumble upon different public art. Best part? The art is interactive, which means there are sculptures you can walk in, walk up and climb. Admission is only $5 for adults, $3 for students, and free for kids under 12 and seniors.

4. Tifft Nature Preserve

1200 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo / tifft.org

Buffalo’s Outer Harbor always has something going on, but don’t forget that along with everything else, they’re also a pretty awesome spot for a hike. You may not know it by just driving down the Skyway, but Tifft Nature Preserve is a whopping 264 acre “nature refuge.” Located extremely close to the City of Buffalo, this is the perfect place to visit if you don’t want to drive far. Whether you walk along the Outer Harbor looking over Lake Erie, or navigate the hiking trails at the nature preserve, this is a great way to spend a day. They also hold events, like guided tours and at the Outer Harbor, free yoga, movie nights, and many festivals.

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Swallow Hollow Nature Trail // Photo x Facebook

5. Swallow Hollow Nature Trail

5828-5844 Knowlesville Rd, Oakfield / fws.gov

Swallow Hollow, besides being the cutest name for a nature trail ever, is a shorter trail perfect for a casual walk and some bird watching. Over half of the trail is elevated boardwalk, which connects to a gravel trail that guides you through the lush marsh. Here you’ll see warblers, waterfowl, great blue heron and woodpeckers. This is a wonderful place to bring your camera for some sweet nature and wildlife shots, as well as a little escape from regular life.

6. Stony Brook State Park

10820 Route 36 South Dansville, NY 14437 / parks.ny.gov

Stony Brook State Park features a rugged gorge in the rolling hills of Western New York. You can enjoy the park’s rich scenery while camping, picnicking, swimming or hiking. Hikers have the option of 3 hiking trails to choose from, each about 1 mile long. Discover 3 major waterfalls as well as the hidden gem of a swimming hole to cool off on a hot day!

Editor’s Note: This guide on how to choose a hiking GPS from Globo Surf could be useful.

Did we miss one? Did one of these places close? Send us a note!

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This article was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated.

Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/francescab/" target="_self">Francesca Bond</a>

Written by Francesca Bond

Francesca was a Step Out Buffalo intern in 2017.

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