Well that was a heck of a winter, wouldn’t you say? Sustained cold temps, bountiful snowfall, and incredible conditions at our local ski resorts - what could be better? Well as it goes, all good things must come to an end. It’s time to retire the ski equipment and set our sights on warmer thoughts and activities. Fortunately for those residing here in the Southern Tier, one of the prized sources for outdoor activity is just down the road in Salamanca, NY … Allegany State Park. With so much to explore and enjoy, let’s get you up to speed with some of its offerings, as well as what you can expect this summer at this incredible park.
While some may think the Adirondack region offers the most in terms of park acreage, Allegany State Park actually takes the cake here in New York State, boasting more than 65,000 acres. Hiking your thing? With 18 trails (not to mention 3 self-guided nature trails), you can most certainly cover some ground. If pedaling is more your speed, there are over five miles of paved trail where you can take in some of the breathtaking scenery the park has to offer, including a 3-mile clip around Red House Lake. ASP is often included in many of the road cycling loops for the purists in the area, due to its favorable elevation changes and scenery. A quick Google or social media search of the aforementioned scenery and you’ll quickly understand the appeal of the park to those who visit … gorgeous backdrops for fishing, boating / kayaking, pavilions and grills to host that perfect picnic day, a beach with real sand! … shall we go on?
It may go without saying, but what park would be complete without camping! ASP features two very well outfitted camping areas, dubbed ‘Red House’ & ‘Quaker’ with over 300 sites and 350 cabins between the two of them. Nearly half the sites and the majority of cabins feature electricity as well. Pricing varies based on site, cabin, or duration of your stay, and it’s important to know an advance reservation is needed to camp at the park. Easy enough … 1-800-456-2267 will put you in touch with a reservation specialist who can get you squared away with exactly what you need.
Allegany State Park also features some pretty fun family events throughout the summer. One of the newest events (introduced this spring) has been dubbed the ‘3rd Saturday Treks’ at ASP - free, guided, family-friendly hikes which will continue through the month of October. If a more competitive event is what you’re looking for, the Allegany Adventure Race presented by heartrateup.com will return on Saturday, May 2. Three courses await participants as they take on the rolling, non-technical trails of the Art Roscoe Trail System within ASP. Other notable events planned this month: Red House Lake Spring Fishing Tournament May 9; the growing popularity of Geobash (this is its 10th year!) May 16-17; and the annual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage May 29-31. Nature enthusiasts have gathered for this special weekend each year since 1959!
PREPARE YOURSELF: FIND THE GOODS AT THE CITY GARAGE
Another important detail when planning a visit to ASP is to make sure you stop into your local specialty shop and stock up on all the accessories you need (as well as some you didn’t even know you needed!) We recommend The City Garage as your pre-park pitstop. Located on Monroe Street in downtown Ellicottville, the C.G. may be your favorite place to shop during ski season, but come summertime, it transforms into a one-stop shopping experience ideal for anyone planning a trek into the woods.
Not only do they have worthy trail rated footwear from brands like Salomon and Merrel, they also stock some of the newly popular camping and glamping accessories on the market. One of their most popular lines is that of GSI Outdoors, manufacturers of interesting, compatible camping accessories, which help users bring the comforts of home with them to the great outdoors. From compatible cookware to stainless steel wine glasses perfect for fireside chats, this brand has countless options for your excursion.
The City Garage also carries ideally-sized bluetooth audio solutions from Outdoor Technologies (even Mother Nature appreciates a good playlist), cookware and containers from Stanley, and if you’re feeling like exploring a new sport on your trip: stand-up paddle boards from BIC. Load up your board and head out on the lake at Allegany State Park. Or if renting is more pleasing to the wallet, the state park offers paddleboards and paddleboats on-site for an hourly fee.
Now that you’re armed with information, the only question is not if, but when will you visit Allegany State Park? Get out there and enjoy what our amazing region has to offer … you’ll be grateful you did!
NOTABLE HIGHLIGHTS OF ALLEGANY STATE PARK
• Thunder Rocks: a cluster of huge conglomerate boulders at the top of the ridge offers a lesson in geology as well as a natural jungle gym for the more adventurous. There are several things to look for among these impressive rocks. The weather has sculpted several rocks into fascinating shapes where children have found gorillas, a whale, a frog and a turtle. The area also contains many Appalachian species of plants not usually found in Western New York.
• Bear Caves: 165 million years ago great geological activity caused block-faulting and uplifting to occur throughout the region. This resulted in openings in the bedrock along collapsed faults creating cave-like openings. There are three of these openings that can be explored but bring a flashlight.
• Fire Tower: a restored 1926 fire tower sits on one of the highest peaks in the Red House Area. The tower is open at certain times during the summer when you can climb to the top for a spectacular view.
• Old Growth Forest: over 3,000 acres of mature forest with some of the largest trees in the state.
• Old Quaker Store Museum: the history of the park from ancient bedrock formation to the park’s development is displayed and interpreted for park visitors.
• Red House Administration Building and Natural History Museum: a 3-story rustic Tudor style building houses the administrative offices for the Allegany Region as well as a gift shop, restaurant, rental office and museum displaying the wildlife native to the park.
• North County / Finger Lakes Trail: the national trail from the Adirondacks in the east to North Dakota in the west. 18 miles of the trail traverse the park passing through some of the most impressive mature forest in NYS and connecting in the south to the Allegheny National Forest and beyond.
Learn more about Allegany State Park at http://nysparks.com/parks/1/details.aspx