Posts Tagged ‘allegany state park’

KidsOutAndAbout Readers’ Choice 2013:
Top 20 Places to take kids in the Buffalo area : click here

Read Full Post »

By Sue Freeman

Are you familiar with the Finger Lakes Trail? Are you sure? It continues to grow. There are now more than 950 miles of trail, including many side trails and loops. If you haven’t explored the Finger Lakes Trail for either a day hike or a backpacking trip, then you’re missing out on the best hiking that our region has to offer.

The main Finger Lakes Trail reaches from Allegany State Park to the Catskill Mountains, passing south of the major Finger Lakes. It continues west to North Dakota as the North Country Trail. In the east it meets the Long Path which connects to the Appalachian Trail. Closer to home, branch trails head north and south off the main trail. The Conservation Trail heads north to Canada. The Letchworth Trail heads east of Letchworth gorge providing a glimpse of some waterfalls. The Bristol Hills Trail (the one closest to Rochester) heads north to Ontario County Park north of Naples. The Crystal Hills Trail is being built to head south from Bath, connecting to the Great Eastern Trail. The Interloken Trail heads north into the Finger Lakes National Forest. The Onondaga Trail and Link Trail form a loop south of Syracuse. Each of these has smaller loop and spur trails attached.

The whole system amounts to an awful lot of trail mileage. How do you know where to go, where to park, what terrain you’ll encounter, when is a good time to go? The answer to these questions just got easier. The Finger Lakes Trail Conference recently unveiled their on-line, interactive trail map at www.fingerlakestrail.org.

You can zoom in and pan around on the map to focus on any specific trail area. Zooming in twice shows waypoints for trailhead parking, shelters, campsites (including primitive campsites), and hunting closures (red flag waypoints).  Clicking on a waypoint brings up more information about it such as dates for hunting closures, notices, and important infrastructure such as lean-tos are also shown. Clicking on the track of a trail, whether the main trail or any side trails, brings up an elevation profile for that area that can be enlarged.

The track colors represent the blaze colors for that segment of trail. The main trail is depicted in black for better visibility on various map backgrounds, but it is white blazed. (A blaze is a rectangle of paint on trees and structures used to denote the route of a trail.)

This interactive map can be very useful in quickly finding relevant information about a specific segment of trail. For instance, if I’m thinking of taking a hike from Ontario County Park into Naples on the Bristol Hills Trail, I can quickly see that I better go now or postpone my trip because a segment of the trail is closed for hunting from November 15 through December 22. Maybe I’ll plan a Christmas Day hike. I see my hiking partner can leave a car at the DEC lot on Route 245 and shuttle us to the start at Ontario County Park and we can hike the distance one way. And, I can see from the topo and terrain versions of the map that we’ll be in for some rugged terrain. Maybe we’ll need snowshoes if the snow is deep.

Once you decide on where to hike using the interactive map, it’s best to buy a Finger Lakes Trail Conference map for that area to use on your hike because of the detailed mile-by-mile information on the back of each map and so that you’ll have a quality printed map with you on the hike. Having a good map with you is one of the most important safety precautions you can take while hiking. Happy Trails.

Read Full Post »

By Amy Moritz, Buffalo News, link to original post

Chestnut Ridge Park served as her own version of the wilderness when Cheryl Peluso was growing up in South Buffalo. She had moved to Massachusetts and discovered an affinity for hiking, but, upon her return to Western New York, felt out of place with her desire to trek in the woods.

“When I first moved back I couldn’t find anyone here who went hiking. I felt like this freak of nature,” Peluso said. “I’d just go out by myself and and I enjoyed it.”

While she investigated places to hike on her own, she came across the Adirondack Mountain Club—a hiking organization in New York State with regional chapters. While the idea of hiking in the Adirondacks seemed out of her reach, she learned the group also conducted local hikes and a new world opened up to her.

“I loved being around like-minded people,” Peluso said. “And you never realize just how many places there are to go in Western New York.”

Thanks to the geography of the area— from the gorge of Niagara Falls to the beginning of the Allegheny Mountains in Cattaraugus County—Western New York has a plethora of hiking trails with a wide range of difficulty. From easy walks in the woods to multi-day backpack adventures, the area’s hiking trails are accessible for all fitness levels and continuously provide new experiences even for veterans of the trails.

“I?ve been hiking this area for more than 30 years now,” said John Sander, author of two area fishing books and an avid hiker. “And even I’m still finding new places. Last year, I was standing in some-one’s office and saw a map of Erie County and saw a county park that I didn’t even

know existed. It was Franklin Gulf [located in Eden] and it was beautiful. It had several trails, a nice creek running through it and lots of things to see.”

As the seasons change from summer toward autumn the weather provides a great opportunity to explore the trails since there is less heat, humidity and fewer bugs. Looking to take a trek? Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Find a trail. Western New York is filled with hiking trails of all kinds from easy walks in the woods to challenging terrain and hills. Whether novice or an experienced hiker, finding a trail to suit your pace and physical level is important. Things to consider when choosing a trail include distance, elevation and terrain. Is the trail rocky or a well-worn dirt path? Is it flat or will you have to climb hills or scramble up rocks? Where can you find trails? Pretty much all over Western New York. Check out county and state parks along with wildlife management areas. There also are numerous resources on hikes in the area from books to web-sites which give information about distance and terrain along with maps of the trails. One of the most popular local resources is the book “50 Hikes in Western New York” by William P. Ehling, another is 200 Waterfalls in Central & Western NY by Rich & Sue Freeman.. Another way to learn about trails and the ins and outs of hiking is to join a group outing. There are several groups in the area, both formal and informal, which meet regularly for walks in the woods of all levels. The two biggest and most established local clubs are the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club  and the Foothills Trail Club .

2. Wear the right clothes. Once you pick your trail, check the weather forecast and pick your clothes. You don’t need lots of hiking gear to walk in the woods or try out the sport. “People don’t need to buy expensive hiking boots and poles to start with,” Peluso said. “A good, comfortable pair of sneakers can start you out.” Whether you’re wearing sturdy sneakers or hiking boots the key is to have comfortable shoes which will give you protection on the trails. Even well-worn and groomed paths give your feet a pounding. “The quickest way to ruin a hike is to have sore feet,” Sander said. He also brings along an inexpensive rain poncho available at discount stores if there is any chance of rain in the forecast. “It can be quite pleasant to hike in a light rain,” Sander said. “But it’s no fun when you’re soaking wet.”

3. Bring water and food. Regardless of how long you think you will be in the woods, bring along plenty of water and some snacks. Erring on the side of too much water is better than being without. Dried fruit and nuts make good trail snacks.

4. Expand the adventure. Find a hiking partner who know about trees or wildflowers or geology and learn while you’re on the trail. Most hikers in Western New York don’t see much wildlife but there are areas for great bird watching and the region is more ecologically diverse than many realize. Sander recommends bringing a simple camera on the hike and a journal. Take photos of interesting trees, flowers, rock formations or water ways. In the journal, add notes to remember specifics about the photo including location, time of day and what interested you about the scene.

5. Making it a family day. While it can be a different type of challenge, families with young children can enjoy a day in the woods. The key is to plan ahead and be thoughtful in thinking about what the kids are really capable of. “One of the most important things, and it can be difficult to realize, is to try and get a handle on your own abilities and your children’s abilities because you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew the first time and end up with miserable kids,” said Rob Laing, who has been hiking for 25 years. “I was never into forced marches. I wanted my kids to get involved in the outdoors and have fun. We started with shorter hikes and gradually as they got older we added more climbing.”

Go take a hike

Popular trails in Western New York:

• Niagara Gorge Trail System. Includes the Lewiston Branch Gorge Trial, Devils Hole, Whirlpool and the Upper Great Gorge Rim Trail. For information, contact The New York State office of Parks, Recreation&Historic Preservation (www.nysparks.com, 745-7848) or the Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center (278-0820).

• Erie County Parks. Popular hiking trails include Chestnut Ridge, Emery Park, Hunters Creek and Sprague Brook. Some of the best trail maps of these parks can be found through The Buffalo Orienteering Club (www.buffalo-orienteering.org).

• Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. Locally known as “The Alabama Swamps” this park run by the U. S. Fish&Wildlife Service offers plenty of trails, most of which are relatively flat. Because of the terrain is simple and the length of the trails under two miles, it’s a great place for families. (www.fws.gov/northeast/iroquois)

• Zoar Valley. Officially a multiple use area under the control of the New York State DEC the park is known for amazing scenery, deep gorges, cliffs and waterfalls. (www.dec.ny.gov/lands/36931.html)

• Allegany State Park. There are over 135 miles of marked trails in Allegany State Park ranging from self-guided nature walks to a challenging 18-mile trail that is part of the Finger Lakes Trail. (http://nysparks. state. ny. us/parks/158)

Read Full Post »

New York State is not about the skyscrapers and smog of New York City instead it is an oasis of beautiful landscapes and plenty of outdoors to explore.  The perfect way to make the most of the great outdoors is by camping, by sleeping out in the elements you really get to experience the best of what the area has to offer. Here is a roundup of my top 5 campsites in New York State.

Heckscher State Park
Located in East Islip, New York, Heckscher State Park attracts more than a million visitors a year and has been voted one of the top 100 campsites in the USA.  At only 50 miles away from Manhattan the area is popular for New Yorkers wanting to get away.  The park boasts over 20 miles of trails that can be used by cyclists, hikers and even cross-country skiers in the winter, there is a swimming pool complex and a bay for boating and fishing. Within the park there are 69 individual camp sites to choose from so you can decide which of the amenities best suit your needs and pitch up close to them. Ideal for children, the park also has its own beach, nature trail and playing fields, sure to keep them entertained for the duration of your stay.

Wildwood State Park
If your idea of camping is based more upon being in the wilderness, Wildwood State Park is for you, comprising of 600 acres of undeveloped forest land. Here you can really be at one with nature and activities include swimming in the Long Island Sound, fishing and hiking not to mention enjoying the 2 miles of beach at the park. For the athletic types out there, there are basketball courts and baseball fields and after you have worked up an appetite there is firewood available for you to enjoy your own barbeque. Although the park is open all year round the camping season only runs from April to October and every October the park holds its own fall festival.

Hither Hills State Park
Hither Hills State Park is located 122 miles east from New York City on the eastern end of Long Island and offers its guests 2 miles of ocean front beach and a 40 acre freshwater lake. Organised activities for the guests at the campsite include family films, dancing lessons, children’s theatre, magic shows and other performances. Outdoor activities at the park include 10 acre picnic area complete with fires, horseshoe courts, volleyball areas, baseball fields and hiking trails. During the winter cross country skiing is also available and hunting is also permitted in the park during certain times of the year. It is important to note that the park does not allow pets however, so if you would like to take your furry friend with you Hither Hills is not for you, if you aren’t so keen on our four legged friends however this could be the perfect park for you.

Letchworth State Park
For awe inspiring landscapes head to Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” it is one of the most dramatically scenic areas of the Eastern US. The Genesee River flows through the park and creates 3 spectacular waterfalls, as high as 600 feet at their peak and the lush forest provides the perfect back drop for hiking, horseback riding, biking and in the winter skiing and snowmobiling. The park also runs a series of educational programs covering performing arts, history, and nature along with activities such as guided walks, white-water rafting and swimming. Possibly the most unforgettable experience on offer at Letchworth is the chance to go hot air ballooning, viewing the park from this vantage point really does offer a unique and breathtaking experience.  In terms of accommodation if you choose not to camp under the stars there are some excellent inns in the park.

Allegany State Park
Allegany State Park, the largest park in New York State, is split into 2 well known areas, the Quaker area and the Red House area, both offer amenities such as sandy beaches, picnic areas, hiking trails, walking trails and museums. There are 424 campsites to choose from in the park including 375 cabins and three group camps available for visitors to rent. Those looking for something a bit more luxurious for their stay may want to stay in one of the 7 Fancher Cottages (located in the Quaker Area of the park) each of the cottages has a bathroom with shower, a refrigerator, a countertop range and a microwave. The cottages are fully furnished and provide all you could need for your stay as well as having full disabled access and a picnic table outside.

by Charlotte McCulloch

Charlotte writes for new travel site Simonseeks.com where you can find inspirational travel guides and expert advice on the best nightlife in Paris to the cheapest hotels in London.

Read Full Post »

By Larry Beahan, The Buffalo news, link to original post

In 1983, Allegany State Park supporters went into battle for the park against a flawed master plan that would have allowed logging in a quarter of the park. Ordinary park users banded together with the Adirondack Mountain Club, Sierra Club, Foothills Trail Club, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Audubon against loggers, gas and oil drillers and a park administration that favored resource extraction over recreation and preservation. The plan stalled.

A bad master plan turned up again in 1993. Again, massive turnouts of master plan opponents stopped the threat to violate the park’s 100-to-350-year-old forest. “Righteous Babe,” Ani DiFranco, held a benefit concert for the park. A crippled American eagle met folks at the door of the hearing in Buffalo’s downtown library where the auditorium was packed to the rafters with plan opponents and the walls were papered with 10,000 signatures on a petition to shelve the plan. Then-Gov. George E. Pataki halted it and the park languished without a guiding plan but without lumbering and with minimal gas and oil activity.

On April 14, the State Office of Parks announced a new draft master plan for Allegany State Park. This plan is excellent. It recognizes the unique natural resource the park has in its forest: the tremendous recreational and ecological value of that forest when it is left undisturbed.

Logging is not the issue this time. The Office of Parks already has a policy prohibiting commercial logging in all state parks. The threat to the forest is private mineral rights. Under half of the park, mineral rights are privately owned. U. S. Energy Corp. has threatened to drill deep horizontal, high-volume-hydro-fracked Marcellus Shale wells that have well heads of five acres.

The new plan will designate Allegany as a “Natural Heritage Area,” a “Bird Conservation Area” and 85 percent of it as “Park Preserve.” Park Preserve status offers Allegany the same “Forever Wild” protection as the old growth forest in Zoar Valley and the forest preserve in the Adirondacks. Park Preserve status will make it possible for the state to reject oil or gas exploration proposals on environmental grounds.

The plan is not perfect. It is overgenerous in new trail incursions into the forest. Too much bicycle, horse, snowmobile and foot traffic through the deep woods makes the woods less hospitable to creatures that need them: the pileated woodpecker, wolverine, fox and bear. It is sad that National Fuel’s 9,000-acre gas storage area above France Brook will not be included in the Preserve.

I’m planning to tell park administrators all this at the hearings on the new Draft Master Plan, which will be held at 7 p. m. May 12 in Salamanca High School and at 7 p. m. May 13 in the downtown library in Buffalo.

Take a look at the plan at www.nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/ public-documents. aspx.

Larry Beahan is a longtime champion of Allegany State Park.

Read Full Post »

By Jane Kwiatkowski /The buffalo news, link to original post

Walking through the winter woods at night can become a habit difficult to kick—especially if you’re wearing snowshoes.

“When I go snowshoeing, it’s a whole new story,” said Cheryl Peluso of the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club. “There’s no wind at all. It’s very hushed and silent in the woods, and you don’t need a flashlight because the snow reflects so much light.”

Add the promise of Crock Pot hot cocoa and it’s Wednesday night nirvana at Chestnut Ridge Park, where two snowshoeing groups set out weekly, stretching the season (and their muscles) well into March.

“You’d be surprised how long you can snowshoe,” said Peluso, 53, of Hamburg. “I maintain a section of trail in Allegany State Park, and I snowshoed there last year in the first week of April.”

Snow opens the door to recreation and exercise. Think of snow as a form of resistance, ice as a test of balance and hill navigation as a lesson in core strength. With the Winter Olympics winding down and some big festivals gearing up this weekend, why not flex some polar muscle while you still can?

“When anyone exercises in the cold, there’s additional calories burned because the body works harder to maintain its temperature,” said James Velasquez, assistant professor in the Exercise and Sports Studies program at D’Youville College. “A lot of people who are intimidated by going to a gym really can get a workout from snowshoeing, a low-impact exercise a lot of people can do regardless of their level of fitness.”

Don’t stop at snowshoeing. Feel the burn while hiking, sledding, tubing or ice skating. Skiing and boarding, too, expend thermal calories. And don’t forget shoveling. There’s a reason your neighbor smiles as he surveys his clear driveway. It’s the 380 calories he burned after an hour of hurling snow.

Stamp out winter

In 2007, more than 10 million Americans went snowshoeing, according to www.snowshoemag.com . Of that number, 40.8 percent are estimated to be women, 9.4 percent are children ages 7 to 11, with 44.2 percent of all snowshoers between the ages of 25 and 44.

At Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Depew, where aluminum- frame snowshoes cost $2 to rent, three miles of trails are open to hiking, walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Children’s snowshoes — the smallest size is appropriate for those weighing under 50 pounds — are lightweight and plastic.

“You can pretty much walk at a normal gait, and some people use poles,” said Kristen Rosenburg, Reinstein program coordinator. “Today’s snowshoes are not as long or as wide as older wooden-frame models.”

By spreading your weight evenly across a large, flat surface area, snowshoes keep you on top of the snow without sinking or struggling. A general rule? The lighter the snow and the heavier the person, the larger the snowshoe needs to be. Snowshoes are generally inexpensive, ranging from $100 to around $300.

Once strapped in a pair of snowshoes, you’ll see things differently and, if you’re lucky, spot a white-breasted nuthatch, the only bird that can walk headfirst down a tree, according to Rosenburg. Other winter-feeders at Reinstein include chickadees, cardinals (males are red; females are more brown), three species of woodpeckers, mourning doves and goldfinches.

Reinstein is also home to the largest American beech tree in New York State, Rosenburg noted. Located on the self-guided Beech Tree Trail, its trunk is 135 inches in circumference. It stands more than 126 feet tall with a crown spread of 73 feet.

At Tifft Nature Preserve in South Buffalo, there are five miles of trails, according to Experience Manager Lauren Makeyenko, who has observed an increase in snowshoe rentals.

Other snowshoe trails locally include: Walton Woods in Amherst, Emery Park in South Wales, Buckhorn Island State Park on Grand Island and Sprague Brook State Park in Glenwood.

Get fleece

Remember the last time you lifted your wet jeans from washer to dryer? Imagine wearing those jeans driving home after an afternoon of snow play.

“You don’t wear jeans snowshoeing,” advised Peluso. “Wear fleece pants and dress in layers. Remember your head is your thermostat. Take your hat off and partially unzip your jacket if you are feeling too warm.”

Avoid cotton. Embrace fleece, and stash some hot-hand packs in your pocket for good measure, added Peluso, who also skis.

“When I cross-country snow skied, it took a long time to get warm feet,” she recalled. “I don’t know if snowshoeing is the equivalent of walking with a weight on your feet, but if you add hot-hand packs you’ll never get cold feet. You will get snow on you, but with wool socks you won’t feel the wetness.”

From an exercise standpoint, said Velasquez, make sure you warm up and stretch no matter what your activity. The reason has to do with the cold temperatures.

“When you’re outside, your muscles lose elasticity like cold rubber bands,” said the exercise- science professor. “You’re putting your body in a position for injury. Warming up means performing a similar activity in a progressive way with the goal of increasing your heart rate and raising body temperature. By doing that, you’ll promote elasticity. Just like in any type of environmental extreme, people must acclimate and prepare for a change in temperature.”

Exercising in cold temperatures doesn’t mean you sweat less, cautioned Velasquez, who noted the importance of hydration in personal safety and performance.

“People can sweat considerably in the cold,” he said. “It only takes 1 to 2 percent loss of body weight in fluid to have a negative effect on performance, meaning slower recovery, excessive soreness and decreased endurance.

So dress right, grab some water and head out. As Tifft’s Makeyenko says, “We’re in Buffalo. We should be celebrating this kind of stuff.”

Read Full Post »

I’ve encountered ruffed grouse while hiking quite often. Generally, it’s a flush of flapping wings that scares the beegeebers out of you, since they wait until you’ve very near before flushing. My favorite memory of ruffed grouse dates back many years. Rich & I were walking a trail in Allegany State Park when a mother grouse charged Rich. He flew down the trail with a grouse barking at his heels. I’ve never seen him run so fast or in such a panic. Meanwhile, near my feet, five little balls of fluff marched across the trail going peep, peep, peep.

But, it seems times have changed. Rick Brockway writes about tame grouse that land on people and follow them around. Read his story and tales from others here. My theory is that maybe these grouse were hand reared and than let go. We reared a batch of turkeys in our back yard one year, although I suspect many of them didn’t survive their first winter aon their own.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »