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6 WNY Nature Getaways to Experience This Summer

Allegany State Park

Photo from Allegany State Park’s Facebook

Updated July 2018

Ever get that urge to explore? Or the feeling that you need to recharge your heart, body, and soul by spending time surrounded by nature? We do too. A lot. 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 for a little while.

 

Zoar Valley 

(716) 372-0645 / WEBSITE  

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 researching where you’re going during your visit to Zoar Valley in order to make your trip that much more enjoyable. Wherever you end up, you’re sure to find yourself in a beautiful environment.  To learn about some of the Kayak options available in Zoar Valley, visit zoarvalleyrafting.com. We advise you to use caution on this one. It’s not you’re 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

Letchworth State Park

1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427 / (585) 493-3600 / WEBSITE

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

Empire Passport Accepted

If you have not been to Letchworth, we recommend making your way 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 possibilities. And 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. There is a minimal fee per car load and it’s cash only. Plus, take a look here for any further fees that you may be subject to.

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

Allegany State Park 

2373 ASP, Rte 1, Ste 3, Salamanca, NY14779 / (716) 354-9121

QUAKER / RED HOUSE

Empire passport accepted 

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, and as a father of a child with disabilities, this matters a great deal. 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.) Other must sees are 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. Find a map here.

 

Chestnut Ridge

Chestnut Ridge

Chestnut Ridge

6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park, NY 14127 / (716) 662-3290 / WEBSITE

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 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 a number of trails and hiking opportunities. The best adventure available at Chestnut Ridge is a hike to the eternal flame, so grab a map here and get going!

 

Reinstien Woods

Photo from Reinstien Woods’ Facebook

Reinstien Woods

93 Honorine, Drive Depew, NY 14043 / (716) 683-5959 / WEBSITE

Good For: Wildlife watching / Accessible features

The Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve & Environmental Education Center in Depew works hard to create 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.

 

Griffis Sculpture Park

Photo from Griffis Sculpture Park’s Facebook

Griffis Sculpture Park

6902 Mill Valley Road, East Otto, NY 14729 / (716) 667-2808 / WEBSITE

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 tails 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 12 and under. The park is open from March 1st to October 31st. For further information about what Griffis has to offer, check out their website!

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