Allegany State Park

Canoers on Red House Lake at Allegany State Park

Canoers on Red House Lake at Allegany State Park. Photo courtesy Cattaraugus County Tourism

On July 30, 1921, Allegany State Park was opened to the public. Originally, it was Amasa Stone who bought 7,000 acres - for a whopping $40,000 - in the heavily-wooded area. His ideal vision was to use it as a private hunting ground.

However, in the 1920s, the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences and the Society for the Preservation of Birds, Fish and Game held a joint meeting to discuss what was to be done with the land.  Albert Fancher (remember this name) was the man behind the legislative action to get the ball rolling.

Since then, a lot of things have changed. We can acquire knowledge about anything from anywhere in the world - all from that handheld device in our pockets.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the serenity of the enormous forest that is Allegany State Park. Covering over 65,000 acres, Allegany State Park is the biggest state park in New York. With two main areas to choose from, it is one of the few places left to legitimately escape from everything.

Red House Area

The main area, Red House, has some really cool features including the old administrative building, which was built in the late 1920s. Bright red and perched atop a hill overlooking Red House Lake, the building is home to a natural history museum, restaurant, gift shop and information center. The administrative building is also home to the park’s regional headquarters.

Filled in 1929 by damming the Red House Brook, Red House Lake is one of several large bodies of water around Allegany State Park. With its deepest point being close to 20 feet, the lake’s shoreline is close to 1.8 miles around to complement the 110-acres of water that fill it. Fishing - for all seasons - is allowed, and Red House Lake is home to trout, largemouth bass and panfish. There is also an area roped off for swimming with lifeguards on duty.

The Red House area also offers 130 campsites and 144 cabins (128 of which are winterized.) There are three large campgrounds for larger groups and the individual campsites have power access. If you get sick of hiking or exploring (which may be difficult, seeing as there is so much to see) Red House offers basketball and volleyball courts as well as a playground. Near that area is also an enclosed pavilion for picnics.

Full Moon Beach Party

On Friday, Aug. 10, Red House will host the 6th Annual Full Moon Beach Party. A free, public event, the Beach Party is great for families with youngsters. They offer live music, animal balloons, face painting and a limbo contest. The concession stand will be open for dinner, but the Park also allows people to bring their own food. The event starts around 6pm and goes until 10pm.

Quaker Area

On the other side of Allegany State Park lies the Quaker area. Further west on Route 86 from Salamanca and the Red House entrance, Quaker offers many of the same amenities.

There are two lakes where patrons can swim or fish - there is kayak/canoe access as well as two piers for fishing. The Allegany Reservoir is also accessible for boating enthusiasts through the Friend’s Boat Launch.

Quaker boasts 189 campsites and 230 cabins which visitors can use as a home base to explore the many hiking trails around the area. Remember Albert Fancher? He was the Senator that approved much of the legislation and is known as ‘The Father of Allegany State Park.’ In honor, seven cabins are named after him - fittingly, the Fancher Cabins. For those who want to get outside but don’t want to sleep in a tent, the Fancher Cabins are fully furnished, including showers, electric, countertops and microwaves.

Also at Quaker are horseshoe pits, basketball courts, a beach on one of the lakes and a playground for the kids.

Whether you’re from Little Valley or Toronto, Allegany State Park offers an escape from everyday life into the serenity of our natural surroundings. For more information, head to nysparks.com and download a detailed map of Allegany State Park.

By Linda Devlin

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