Posts Tagged ‘Tifft Nature Preserve’

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

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By Emma Sapong, Buffalo News, link to original (full) post

Ship Canal Commons, a $9.2 million waterfront park, is the new centerpiece of the Buffalo Lake Side Commerce park.

The new park, along Union Ship Canal, officially opened Monday. The 22-acre, public green space boasts restored native trees, aquatic wildlife, bike paths, hiking trails, fishing spots and a pedestrian bridge that spans Union Ship Canal. A multi-use trail connects visitors to the outer harbor, Tifft Nature Preserve and the Seaway Trail.

Ship Canal Commons also serves as the southern anchor to the Niagara Greenway.

Its bevy of recreational assets could also have economical benefits, attracting more commercial tenants to the transformed brownfields that were once the site of Hanna Furnace plant. Lakeside is anchored by three companies — CertainTeed Corp., Cobey Inc. and Sonwil Distribution — that employ more than 400 employees.

Work to create Ship Canal Commons began last year and entailed debris removal, excavation of contaminated soils and the placement of 2-foot layer of clean soil over the whole site. Sections of the 100-year-old canal wall weren’t sound, so they had to be stabilized by a berm of gravel and sand.

The site had been used by Hanna Furnace for unloading and storage of raw materials, such as limestone and ore. Ship Canal Commons does not depart from its manufacturing past. Its landscaping recalls the region’s steel and iron heritage. The project also included work to improve conditions so native species of fish and other aquatic wildlife survival and multiple survive and multiply through the Buffalo River basin.

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Join Rochester Area hikers for healthy outdoor fun

For many other places to hike in the Greater Rochester area, pick up a copy of the guidebooks “Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester Area” and “Take A Hike – family Walks  in NY’s Finger Lakes Region.”

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Four ways to get outdoors for spring in Western NY

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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.”

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BY JOAN BARONE MCDONALD, The Buffalo News, Link to original post

Surviving a Buffalo winter can be tough: snow, rain, cold temperatures and a lack of sunshine can leave Western New Yorkers feeling bored and depressed. Some lucky snowbirds jet off to warmer climates, but most of us are compelled to find other ways to beat the winter blues.

The urge to simply hunker down and isolate ourselves from the elements, however appealing, may not be the best solution. Research shows that direct contact with our natural environment improves mental health. The idea isn’t new. Author Henry David Thoreau preached it from Walden Pond more than 150 years ago, saying, “I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright,” and psychologists today agree.

This winter, rather than languishing in front of the television or computer screen, get out and enjoy all that our nearby parks and recreation areas have to offer. And end it all with a steaming mug of hot cocoa!

Winter landscapes

The summer pleasures of Delaware Park, a 350-acre masterpiece created by landscape artist Frederick Law Olmsted, are well-known to Buffalonians, but many forget that winter in the park holds a beauty all its own. Walk, snowshoe or crosscountry ski through the park during a gentle snowfall and take in a pastoral scene of scattered trees and snow-covered meadows. If you have a thrill gene, sled down Shakespeare Hill, making sure to notice the contrast between your pounding heart and serene Hoyt Lake at the foot of the slope.

Located within Delaware Park, the Buffalo Zoo has certain advantages in winter. Check out the Gorilla House where, with fewer visitors, you’ll have an unobstructed view of the primate antics. And don’t miss Rainforest Falls, a tropical paradise of Spanish moss and huge-frond ferns, complete with a rushing waterfall and a quaint rope bridge. Here, giant anteaters nose for termites, capybaras scout the riverbank, brightly colored parrots perch on branches, and Scarlet Ibises flit about the greenery overhead. It’s warm, awe-inspiring—and much cheaper than a trip to Costa Rica.

The bears will be outside waiting for company and, if you time it right and arrive around lunch time, you can watch them feed. You’ll also be able to stroll past the snow leopard, the gemsboks, the pacing spotted hyenas and, of course, the bisons, all hardy enough to remain outdoors.

Zoo admission is $9.50 adults, $6 children; under 23 months, free. Open daily 10 a. m. to 4 p. m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays in January and February. For information: www.buffalozoo.org.

If skating is your thing, don’t miss Buffalo’s answer to Rockefeller Center: Rotary Rink in downtown’s Fountain Plaza. Here you can rent skates for $4 and glide around, surrounded by tall buildings, with the sun glistening in ribbons on the well-groomed ice. If you’re not in the mood to strap on skates, you can sit on a bench and perhaps catch a glimpse of a businessman in dress pants and a fedora floating gracefully around during his lunch hour, or a Dad clutching his toddler’s hand as they slip around the rink. Open through March 14, hours are 11 a. m. to 2 p. m. and 5 to 9 p. m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 11 a. m. to 10 p. m. Saturdays; and 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. Sundays. Admission is free.

Tifft Nature Preserve is a 264-acre nature refuge dedicated to conservation and environmental education. Visitors can rent snowshoes on site or bring along their own cross-country skis and take advantage of five miles of nature trails. There’s no cost to enjoy the trails and other outdoor sights during daylight hours at the preserve, located at 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd. The visitor’s center is open 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p. m. Sunday.

Tifft also hosts events, such as the “Full Moon Stroll,” 6 to 7:30 p. m. Jan. 30, billed as a chance to “enjoy the sights and sounds of a winter night.” Cost is $5; snowshoe rental is $2. To register, call 896-5200, Ext. 338. On Feb. 21, Winter Fest will return to Tifft with hikes, winter arts and crafts, and workshops. Food and hot beverages will accompany the merriment. It’s free, with a suggested donation of $3.

For general information: 825-6397, www.sciencebuff.org.

In addition to self-guided trails found in other parks, Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve—a unique 292-acre complex of forests, ponds and wetlands on Honorine Drive in Depew— offers guided nature walks at 10 a. m. Saturdays through the Department of Environmental Conservation. These free walks, lasting about 90 minutes, are held rain, snow or shine. Other DEC programs offered each month include snowshoe and ski adventures and walks on seasonal topics. For more information: 683-5959,www.dec.ny.gov/education/1837.html.

Take a hike

If you enjoy group activities, the Foothills Trail Club offers outings in all seasons. When asked about the special pleasures of winter hikes, member Cheryl Peluso explains that, in addition to the sheer beauty of a quiet, snow-blanketed woods, “you can often see signs of wildlife in winter in the form of tracks, while in the summer, wildlife is more difficult to spot.”

If such an idea touches your fancy, you can join the group on various treks thorough locales like Elma Meadows, Stiglmeier Park, Reinstein Woods, Como Park and Tifft Nature Preserve. On Sunday, for example, the group meets at 1 p. m. for a hike along the Ellicott Creek Bike Path in Amherst (meet at the North Forest Road parking lot); at 1 p. m. Jan. 23, the group takes a four-mile trek through Stiglmeier Park. Refer to www.foothillstrailclub.org for additional info.

In the country

If you love sledding, head out to Chestnut Ridge in Orchard Park. The 350-foot sledding hill is open all winter—as long as there is snow. You can ride toboggans, tubes or sleds, catching a view of Lake Erie and the city as you speed down the hill. For the less adventurous, the observation platform on the upper level of the Casino also provides an impressive view, or simply sit by the fire inside and sip hot chocolate. Winter sports enthusiasts can snowshoe, hike, snowmobile and cross-country ski in the park, which is open every day until dark.

For some quality outdoor skate time in the Southtowns, drop in at the Time Warner Classic Rink, 41 Riley St. in East Aurora. Glide across the glistening ice during public skate hours, breathe in the crisp winter air, and listen to the piped-in tunes; you may just feel like you are in an old-fashioned Currier and Ives lithograph. A heated dome is set up adjacent to the rink in case the chilly air becomes a bit overwhelming.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, with skate rentals available for $3. Public skate times are 7 to 9 p. m. Fridays; 2 to 4 p. m. and 7 to 9 p. m. Saturdays; and 2 to 4 p. m. Sundays. Check the Web site (www.thinkrink.org) for additional information.

Situated on Route 240 in Glenwood, Sprague Brook Park offers wide, well-groomed trails perfect for novice crosscountry skiers and snowshoers. The 3-mile loop wends through peaceful woodlands, quiet enough to hear the crunch of the snow underfoot and enjoy the sight of the sun slanting through the pines. If you don’t own equipment, rental is possible from nearby Colden Ski Rental (8843 State Road) at $12 a day. Other recreational alternatives in the park include hiking, sledding and snowmobiling.

If speed is what you crave, skiing or snowboarding at Kissing Bridge will fill the bill. With about 16 feet of snowfall each season, KB’s 700 acres boast 30-plus ski runs, ranging from beginner to advanced. Feel the adrenaline rush as you swish down the slopes, powdery snow pluming behind you, and you’re sure to appreciate living in Buffalo just a little more. Lift tickets vary in price from $28 to $52, depending on age, length of ticket and time slot (weekday or weekend). Check www.kbski.com for specifics.

At almost 10 stories high and 600 feet long, the run at Colden Tubing, adjacent to KB North, promises to offer “Western New York’s No. 1 thrill ride.” Tubers are towed up to the top of the hill, so your only job is to glide down the groomed lanes from the summit to the valley floor. Why not get off the couch and take the plunge? Four hours on the slope will only set you back $15.

Happy ending

Butterwood Desserts on Route 240 in West Falls makes what might be the best cup of hot chocolate outside of Holland. The cocoa mix is a secret in-house recipe that is combined with cream and milk. Thick and velvety on the tongue, with a robust flavor that leans toward the dark chocolate family, this is a treat you shouldn’t miss. For $3.95 you can select regular, mocha, or an extraordinary Alpine white. Sit in a booth, watch the snow fall gently outside, listen to Frank Sinatra croon, and enjoy the winter season. Hey, you got off the couch; you deserve it! •

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