Weekend Backpacker: Buffalo

Allegany State Park
By David Emblige

Allegany State Park rests on New York's southern tier border withPennsylvania, about 70 miles from Buffalo, adjacent to the AlleghenyNational Forest. With 100 square miles of forest and hills, 53.5 miles of hiking trails, plus hundreds of cabins and campsites, you can roam widely here. Mostly logged out a century ago, the area nonethless boasts some 350-year-old hemlocks; ask rangers for hiking directions. Wildlife is abundant in this old Seneca Nation hunting ground, and autumn hiking in this predominantly hardwood forest can be psychedelic amid brilliantly colored maples. Natural history programs are run out of Allegany State Park headquarters, on Red House Lake.

Recommended Trips

Allegany State Park/Quaker Lake Area: a two-day backpacking hike on a section of the Finger Lakes Trail and the Conservation Trail (contiguous inthis area).

When the North Country National Scenic Trail enters the park from Allegheny National Forest, it merges with the Conservation Trail (a part of the longer Finger Lakes Trail, which cuts across the southern tier beneath the mid-state lakesregion). The Conservation Trail meanders for 18 enjoyable miles through Allegany State Park, plenty of walking for a weekend backpacking trip. The route runs from the New York/Pennsylvania border northward to NY Rte. 17. The path climbs over Mount Tuscarora Ridge, crosses Rte. 3 (with access to Kaiser Cabins), and walks up Stony Creek Valley and through Big Basin—a nice variety of landscapes and plant life. Definitely hilly (you'll climb about 1,900 feet), this hike will give most walkers a strenuous workout.

Camping: Three lean-tos are available (no reservations).

Allegany State Park/Red House Lake Area: A three-day weekend of day hikes from a base camp using the Conservation Trail, the Beehunter Trail, and the Patterson-Snowsnake Run Loop.

If you want to combine some easy camping from your car, delicious swimming ina clean lake, and modest day hikes through handsome forest, here's a niftyplan, as recommended by Fifty Hikes in Western New York. This might make a good intro-to-hiking trip for kids or adult hiker-newbies. Set up camp at RedHouse Tent area, a half-mile from Red House Lake, which is the hub of a wheelwith numerous hiking trails for spokes. Your first hike could be a loopon Conservation Trail (4 miles); the second could be on the Beehunter Trail(6.5 miles); and the third on the Patterson and Snowsnake Run Trails (5.6miles). That's a weekend total of 16.1 miles (during which you'll climb about2,300 ft.), earning you bragging rights, especially if this is your firstouting.

Getting There

From Buffalo take I-90 west to West Seneca; NY Rte. 219 south to Salamanca; NY Rte. 17 west to exit #18, Quaker Run, or #19, Red House.

Permit Information

Backcountry hiking permits are not required, but camping and cabinreservations are recommended.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 19 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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