6 Nature Escapes to Experience Around WNY

City Guide, Family Friendly, Things to Do


Written by Warren C. Daniels Jr.

Published on August 3, 2022
Photo by Griffis Sculpture Park & The Essex Arts Center

Ever get that urge to explore? Or the feeling that you need to recharge your mind, body, and soul by spending time surrounded by nature? We feel you. So we came up with our favorite WNY nature getaways to shed the drone of the city (or suburbia for that matter), reset, and become one with nature.

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


1. Zoar Valley 

Gowanda, NY 14070 / More Info 

Good For: Hiking / Paddling / Fishing / Hunting & Trapping / Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing / Watchable Wildlife / Accessible Features

Located in the counties of Cattaraugus and Erie, Zoar Valley offers a number of fun things to do and at the perfect price – free! Before venturing out, download PDF maps from the DEC website above. Beware, finding trails can be somewhat difficult even with directions. We highly recommend doing some research before your visit to Zoar Valley in order to make your trip that much more enjoyable. Wherever you end up, you’re certain to find yourself in a beautiful environment. 

To learn about some of the Kayak options available in Zoar Valley, visit We advise you to use caution on this one. It’s not your average tourist camping grounds and you may encounter sheer drop offs and other hazards. Bring map, a communication device, some essentials and stay safe. Below you’ll find a breakdown of various parking areas around the valley.

Valentine Flats road parking area This area can be found at the end of Valentine Flats Road. There is a Kiosk in the parking area that gives a map of the hiking trails. From here you can take hiking trails like Valentine Flats Southern Trail which is .8 miles and Point Peter Trail (the northern trail) which is just .75 miles according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Please be aware that it takes a considerable amount of time to hike in and out of the gorge. You should plan for enough daylight hours to make the hike safely.

Holcomb Pond Parking Area – This area is found at Vail Road between Unger Road and Button Road. It’s the only maintained hiking trail and is about 2 miles long.

Ross Parking Area – This area is found off of Vail Road near Unger Road. This leads to the same trail as Holcomb. Note the trail can be a little tough at some points for novice hikers.

Button Road Parking Area – This parking area can be found at the end of Button Road near Vail Road.

Forty Road Parking Area – Found at Forty Road near Point Peter Road. Look for the kiosk to get additional information. This leads to a good hiking trail on an old road. The hiking level is fairly easy but keep an eye out for drops. You never know.

Cattaraugus Creek Waterway Access – This one is outside of the Zoar Valley and is a multiple use area to the east found on North Otto Road. There are a number of waterway companies that you can call for various services. If you decide to paddle on your own, please note that the DEC warns casual paddlers to be aware of water levels, as the higher levels require higher skill sets.   

Note: All activities are subject to state law; make sure to review the DEC website for more specific details. All activities are at your own risk. There are no designated Cross-country Skiing & snowshoeing trails, but all are open to you. If you are fishing, it is strongly recommended that you release your catch back into the water (especially the bass). We recommended that you visit the DEC site above to learn more about hunting and trapping.


Letchworth State Park
Photo from Letchworth State Park’s Facebook

2. Letchworth State Park

1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427 / More Info

Good for: Camping / Hiking / Fishing / Hunting / Picnicking / Entertaining / Snowmobiling / Cross country skiing & snowshoeing / Accessible Features

If you have never been to Letchworth, we recommend making your way to this gem as soon as possible. Upon entering, make your first stop the overlook at the gorge. Once you get your breath back, continue on to the many options Letchworth has to offer.  Everything from hiking to biking, camping, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are available at your fingertips. These are just a few of the activities that you can do. If you’re looking for a photo opp, walk the stone bridge for a great view of the waterfall or venture down a hiking trail. Make sure to wear proper footwear, as some areas by the bridge and near the waterfalls can get slippery. Visit the Letchworth website to find a list of trail maps as well as for updates on any trail closures.

Note: For the fishing and hunting options, please visit the NY state parks site above. The accessible features are Nature Trails / Pavilions / Picnic Tables / Recreation Programs / Showers / Swimming Pool / Tent/Trailer Sites / Food (they have restaurants) / Cabins / Camper Recreation. Make sure to visit the Visitors center if you need any direction.    

Allegany State Park
Photo from Allegany State Park’s Facebook

3. Allegany State Park 

2373 ASP, Rte 1, Ste 3, Salamanca, NY14779 / More Info

Good for: Camping / Hiking / Fishing / Hunting / Picnicking / Entertaining / Snowmobiling / Cross country skiing & snowshoeing / Accessible Features

Located in Salamanca, Allegany is the perfect nature trip for families. The state park has many accessible activities perfect for everyone. You can do so much here, for example: camping, hiking, swimming and tennis. The lakes in both the Quaker and Red House areas are awesome. (Please only swim where you are supposed to.) . Highlighted by thunder rocks, the trails (18 Miles worth), the Bear caves, the Fire Tower, and the beach. Thunder rocks is a great place for everyone to get a little taste of rock climbing without worrying too much about falling off the mountain.


Chestnut Ridge
Chestnut Ridge / Step Out Buffalo

4. Chestnut Ridge

6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park, NY 14127 / More Info

Good for: Bicycling / Accessible Facilities / Hiking Trails / Picnic Areas / Cross-Country Skiing / Sledding / Snowmobiling / Tennis / Toboggan Chutes / Disc Golf

Chestnut Ridge is not just a place to go skiing or sledding; it’s a great place for families gatherings too. There are a number of shelters and buildings that can be rented for any occasion, as well as green space to picnic with park grills provided. At Chestnut Ridge you’ll find plenty of trails and hiking opportunities. The best adventure available at Chestnut Ridge is a hike to the eternal flame, so grab a map and get going!

Reinstien Woods
Photo from Reinstien Woods’ Facebook

5. Reinstein Woods

93 Honorine, Drive Depew, NY 14043 / More Info

Good For: Wildlife watching / Accessible features

The Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve & Environmental Education Center in Depew prides themselves in creating a great learning experience for kids. They also aim to provide easy walking trails and accessible features for a quick dip into nature. If you live in the city or the surrounding suburbs, it’s just the right distance from home and it makes for a great quiet retreat.


Photo by Griffis Sculpture Park & The Essex Arts Center

6. Griffis Sculpture Park

6902 Mill Valley Road, East Otto, NY 14729 / More Info

Good For: Wildlife watching / Hiking / Enjoying art and nature

The Griffis Sculpture Park is a gem that should absolutely be on your must visit list. Take a walk through trails that fuse the art of nature with the art of man. Not only are the art pieces amazing but so is the landscape. Some things you should know about the park: Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and free for kids age 10 and under. For further information about what Griffis has to offer, check out their Facebook page!

This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.

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

We launched a new look!

Our new design features a better browsing experience, modern mobile navigation, more visual displays of key info, better filtering options on the search page, and much more.

We hope you love our new look! That said, we’re #ForeverTweaking and would greatly appreciate your feedback so we can make *all* you want and need as your go-to resource for the best of Western New York!

Send feedback >

Find More ➭ Fall, Hiking, Outdoors, Summer


Forgotten Password?

You must be logged in to use this feature.