It's THAT time of year again! It seems like there’s little to no daylight, the nights are cold and the first snow has already arrived. The WNY landscape has already turned to a lack of color minus those few stubborn trees that still have leaves. While most of us patiently wait, or maybe we don't, for our amazing WNY landscape to bloom back into waves of green there’s so many amazing adventures waiting for you. Don’t worry, we know where you can grab a cozy cup of Hot Chocolate or a winter flavored latte to celebrate because winter is by FAR one of the toughest seasons to adventure in but it’s also BY FAR the most rewarding.
For some people, when we say adventure they think driving across the state to the Adirondacks or the Catskills and climbing all day to stand on top of a summit or a fire tower to see for miles. 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 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 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 EIGHT (8) 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. hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing) 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, using recommended equipment for the conditions (e.g. snowshoes for over 6 inches of snow), 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. vegetation).
READY. SET. ADVENTURE.
Here is our list of hand picked locations -- we've hiked, snowshoed, and cross county skied them all (thank you to all of our adventure group who shared their photos)! We did our best to list them randomly even though we truly have our favorites.
REMEMBER. Before you hike, snowshoe or cross country ski 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.
Niagara County: Niagara Falls State Park. Many people flock to Niagara falls during the warmer months but winter is when these magnificent falls really shine! We recommend parking and walking around goat island so you can see both the famous horseshoe falls and American falls frozen and with the early sunset, you’ll be able to catch waterfalls lit up with a variety of color.
Orleans County: Lakeside Beach State Park. Now many people will be questioning not only this location but the chosen winter activity for this spot – disc golf. This activity and location is truly a destination for those who love beaches and golf. There is something magical about beaches in the winter. Yes you’ll probably get a lake breeze but isn’t that half the fun with golf!
Erie County: Boston Forest. This forest is 710 acres of undeveloped land. This forest has a nice mix of nicely groomed and un groomed trails. This combination makes for a perfect location to get in a nice blend of hiking and snowshoeing. You will want to start from the trailhead on Rice road. This option for winter adventuring will get you more adapt to self supported hiking which means adventuring here will be best for more experienced winter hikers (confident in compass/map skills, carrying backpacking equipment).
Genesee County: Genesee County Park and Forest. This quaint park has numerous trails that are made for beginner cross country skiers and snow shoeing. Their various loop trails offer flat and mild elevation which assist beginners in building their experience and fitness levels. To Best access the trails, be sure you enter and park near the interpretative nature center. This center is open year round which makes for a great warming center for an all day outing.
Chautauqua County: Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail. This 24 mile trail system is perfect for avid cross country skiers. It offers the ability to go point to point (Mayville to Sherman) covering 6 state forests and 4 towns. Or you can simply back it down to an out and back loop. This trail also includes numerous amenities (bathroom facilities) since it passes through 4 towns, lean to’s which are perfect to escape the elements for lunch and a couple water features as well. Don’t forget to look out for the view of Chautauqua Lake!
Cattaraugus County: Allegany State Park. This park is perfect for those looking for a hiking challenge. This park offers 18+ trails that can be a combined winter adventure of hiking and snowshoeing. In addition the park has a designated cross county ski area – Roscoe. The Roscoe area is home to the stone castle which is only accessible by hiking/skis/snow shoes in the winter. This park is also home to some rustic cabins that can be rented to truly make it a winter get away adventure. Don’t forget to get your Allegany 18 challenge folder at the Red House. This challenge is THE perfect mix of education and experience as you prepare for the Catskills and/or Adirondack areas.
Allegany County: Phillips Creek & Palmers Pond State Forests. These two state forests totally more than 5,000 acres are perfect for simple winter hiking to more advance winter activities like snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The Phillips Creek trail system has 10 miles of marked trails including quaint foot wood bridges that make crossing streams a breeze, especially on trail 4. While Palmers Pond has 12 miles of marked trails including two 5 mile loops. These loops are perfect for a quick snow shoe or cross county skiing adventure at sunrise (trailheads are accessible at Miller Road).
Wyoming County: Carlton Multi Use Area: Middlebury (Bank Street/Moose Road Intersection -information Kiosk). This underutilized forest is perfect location to give you more experience in the winter wilderness while building your hiking expertise. It is also a bird conservation area. We recommend snow shoeing the trail from Moose Road to Fox Road. OF COURSE, we have to recommend Letchworth State Park! Letchworth transforms into a winter enthusiast playground! Many of their trails become cross county skiing paradises (trail 2A, trail 3 and their pond loop). Snowshoes can be used on all trails and also perfect for hiking the park road from Castile Entrance to Wolf Creek and back (the road is closed if there is enough snow/ice for snowshoes). Don’t forget to check out the hill by the trail side lodge (bring your own tube) and for all of you hard core runners, they take great care of the main road so be sure to log some miles for those spring races.
We do offer guide services for all of the above recommendations for individuals and/or groups. Be sure to follow our social media accounts and subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss out on our FREE events. OR if you prefer to tackle these with a smaller group and/or your family, we do offer individual/group pricing as well! Simply send us an email or message through our website.
By reading the above recommendations you have agreed/acknowledged/accepted the following: I know that participation in any of the above outdoor adventures is a potentially hazardous activity, which could cause injury or death. I, the reader, assume all risks associated with me participating in any of the above recommendations, including but no limited to: falls, contact with other participants, the effects of the weather, including high heat and/or humidity, winter conditions, traffic and the conditions of the road. All such risks being known and appreciated by me. Having read this waiver and knowing these facts, I, for myself and anyone entitled to act on my behalf, waive and release Brianne Blaszak (program coordinator) and OARS of WNY, LLC (DBA Endlessly Outdoors Company) , all program sponsors, their representatives and successors from all claims or liabilities of any kind arising out of my participation in the above recommendations, even though that liability may arise on the part of the persons named in this waiver.