It's THAT time of year again! The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder and pumpkin spice is everywhere! Now we all patiently wait, or maybe we don't, for our amazing WNY landscape to turn into waves of red, orange, and cooper as we sip those lattes and apple ciders.
As tempting as it is to just scroll through your social media or to simply take a drive to view the fall leaves, what if THIS year you make it YOUR goal to really experience this season the adventure way!
For some people, when we way adventure they think driving across the state to the Adirondacks or the Catskills and climbing all day to stand on top of a summit to view the fall colors. FOR or others, adventure is walking in a local park, kayaking a local lake or maybe hiking the amazing Letchworth and/or Allegany State Parks. These are all amazing options but the only person who can decide what qualifies as an adventure is you.
CHOOSING YOUR ADVENTURE.
The biggest most important "THING" we can stress is you want to choose your adventure based on your current education, knowledge and comfort level. There is NOTHING wrong with starting small. There are so MANY amazing local areas that are within a hours drive and a 30 minute walk/hike to get amazing view of the fall landscape. As you complete these smaller adventures, your education, knowledge and comfort level will build, as does your physical endurance.
With that said, we've hand picked numerous locations that are ALL located within the 10 WNY counties. These locations will provide you with choices based on the length of time you wish to spend outside, the method you wish to use (e.g. biking, hiking, kayaking) and if you wish to explore other areas around your adventure location.
LEAVE NO TRACE.
Simply put, whatever items you carry out of your car at the start of your adventure, you should be putting back in your car at the end of your adventure. This also means you are respecting your surroundings by; staying on the designated paths, staying behind barriers (fences), not feeding wild life, and simply capturing your environment on cameras - not picking/taking souvenirs that are essential to the Eco-systems (e.g. wild flowers, mushrooms, vegetation).
READY. SET. ADVENTURE.
Here is our list of hand picked locations -- we've hiked, biked, and kayaked them all (thank you to all of our hiking group who shared their photos)! We did our best to list them randomly even though we truly have our favorites.
REMEMBER. Before you hike, bike or kayak any of these recommendations, be sure you reference a park/trail/area specific map for exact details. In addition, please respect ALL park rules and leave no trace. Be prepared. Know your ability. Lastly, be sure you discuss participating in any of these activities with your medical professional.
1). Monroe County: Mendon Ponds Park. This park is great location if you're in the Rochester area. We recommend parking at Devils bathtub and hiking the Grasslands trail. It's a loop trail of 1.3 miles with a difficulty of easy due to minimal elevation gains and the fact its' a loop. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for walking, trail running, and nature trips. This trail will make you feel like you're not in the city anymore while giving you amazing views of the city skyline.
2). Orleans County: Holley Falls is a result of the Erie Canal even though it's man made. This approximately 40 foot water fall is easily accessed without any hiking due to fact it can be accessed by the adjacent parking lot. This would be a great place to visit on your way out of Rochester and as you head towards some of our other suggested locations in Niagara and Erie Counties (see numbers 3 and 4).
3). Niagara County: Devils Hole State Park is located in the area of Niagara Falls/Lewiston. We recommend the whirlpool trail. The trail is a 4.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail. It features views of the Niagara River and has a moderate elevation gain. We highly recommend you bring trekking poles due to the elevation gains and the roots/rocks that are a constant on the trail. It should be noted the elevation comes when you are trekking back to your car. Since this is near the river we like to remind people to STAY ON the trail at ALL times. Be sure you hike this trail on DRY day and when it hasn't rained within 24 hours since it can become quite muddy.
4). Erie County: Chestnut Ridge Park. This is one park that we can never decide which trail is the best one to recommend so why not recommend two?!?! FIRST up is the more popular and much talked about Eternal Flame trail. This trail is a moderate approximately 1 mile out and back trail. It is heavily trafficked trail that can become dangerous when it's wet. The draw of this trail/hike is the eternal flame that is constantly lit. Since it's very popular you, depending on the day you go you may have to wait in a line to take a picture of the waterfall/flame. After visiting the flame be sure you check out our SECOND recommend hike, the Chestnut Reservoir Trail. This trail is also approximately one mile in length but is an easy trail to walk, run or bike. It loops around the reservoir lake and has a beautiful dock to sit and have lunch at (bring your own chair). It's a great spot to take some pictures of the fall leaves -- not to mention this trail will make our winter edition too!
5). Genesee County: Genesee County Park. Their General Conservation Trail is an easy .87 mile loop that's perfect for the family. It offers other trails that connect to it so it's easy to extend the hike or if your family needs a break, take advantage of the near by playgrounds and charcoal grills. Be sure you also check out the interpretative center. This trail also makes our winter -edition!
6). Wyoming County: Letchworth State Park. The Grand Canyon of the East and USA's number one state park is so hard to narrow done our favorite trails but we got it done to two! Our FIRST recommended trail is without a doubt trail 1. This approximately 8 mile (ONE WAY) moderate hike will give you view of all 3 waterfalls, the train bridge and constant views of the gorge. Even though this trail is maintained we can not stress the importance of STAYING on this trail, BEHIND the stone walls and even OFF the stone walls. This trail/hike can be done by all abilities but we if you've never done a hike over 2 miles, we recommend trekking poles and day pack. This trail has it's elevation which includes those stairs down AND up to lower falls. Our SECOND trail we truly recommend is a combination of 2A and 3. This trail is concentrated around the area of Trout pond and features glorious tall pine trees that beg you to hang a hammock from. Trail 2A also offers a little creek with an small wood bridge which is the perfect quite location to capture some fall landscape pictures without the crowds that flock to this park in the fall. These two trails are a hidden gem and are perfect for the family. Don't forget your hammock, fishing pole and food to cook on the parks' numerous charcoal grills. Which makes these trails a MUST during peak fall foliage.
BUT WAIT -- we decided we couldn't just tell you to spend the day in Letchworth - even though you could! We wanted to be sure to let you know about Silver Lake. This lake is at most a 15 minute drive from Letchworth and provided stunning sunrises and sunsets to take in from you kayak or stand up paddle board. The best part -- this lake will have a brand new kayak/canoe launch next summer. In the mean time, we suggest launching for sunrise from the silver lake state boat launch and launching for sunset from Perry's Public Beach (42 Walker Road). The sunset launch is more difficult due to no boating launch so we only recommend this for intermediate to advanced kayakers/SUPers.
TRUST US when we say it's worth the drive!
7). Allegany County: Just like so many other counties, we couldn't decide on just one trail but in this case we couldn't decide between two locations. FIRST up is one of our favorite kayaking lakes - Rushford. This lake has a great launch area and beach area which makes it a great location for a family picnic. Kayaking/canoeing/SUPing the lake will give you a different view of the fall scene. Don't forget to take a drive up Slusher Hill road for a truly magical view during peak fall foliage!
As will our SECOND choice -Wiscoy Falls. This little stream feeds into the mighty Genesee River and is located just 10 minutes south of Letchworth State Park's southern most entrance. This cascading falls is breathtaking and includes a very short hike (0.6 miles out and back) from the road. PLEASE do not enter the water -- yes the trail will take you onto the water bed as seen in the picture and respect the adjacent property owners. Due to the fact you have to climb the water bed, this is not recommended for children or hikers who are beginners to novice.
8). Chautauqua County: Chautauqua Lake. This lake and region is perfect for those late summer, early fall lake days. This huge lake allows you to kayak, canoe and/or SUP from numerous locations. Due to it's location in NYS southern tier, you will have pristine clear water and amazing views. Be sure to pack a lunch or use many of the grills located on the shores at this lake's numerous parks. This lake and area also offer numerous trails too but we just couldn't focus our attention away from this lake. You definitely won't feel crowded even with the amount of boats that are present. This is a great spot for an end of the year camping trip.
9). Cattaraugus County: Allegany State Park. Maybe we did save one of the best for last! This state park features as many trails as Letchworth with a great view as well. But this state park will give you an Adirondack vibe without having to make that drive! BONUS! We could recommend so many trails just like the other parks but we decided to focus on the Christian Hollow Loop. This 1.7 mile loop is moderate but you will need to hike an additional 0.7 miles from the Roscoe Summit Trail head. This trail is great for families and offers an terrific view of the area which makes this a MUST during peak fall foliage. Don't forget to look for little gnomes house at the start or finish of this trail. These trails are VERY well labeled and if you are into hiking this park offers an amazing challenge to hike their 18 trails (more info can be obtained at the Red House Lake House).
After hiking don't forget to put your kayak, canoe or SUP in to either of their two lakes, Red House or Quaker. We recommend both but if we had to choose just one, we recommend Quaker. This is mainly due to the fact it's the larger of the two and offers the better options (beach, bathrooms, playgrounds and picnic areas). However please note that Red House Lake is directly down the hill from our recommended hike. Both lakes will offer amazing views of the fall foliage and both have boat launch access.
Although it was SO hard, we think these recommended locations are a great 'bucket list' for viewing this year's fall foliage. As we have said, be prepared (research the trails, have a map etc), know your ability, and leave not trace.
Need more assistance on planning your fall adventures? Don't hesitate to reach out to us via website, email (email@example.com) or social media (@ endlesslyoutdoors company on Facebook and Instagram)!
We LOVE nothing more than getting people outdoors and outside of their comfort zones! Trust us -- the adventure is worth it! See you out there!