5 Outdoor Adventures in Buffalo

By Ed Healy

Published on | Last Updated

Buffalo is an under-the-radar outdoor adventure Mecca. We’re located on one of the best fisheries in North America and home to a Globally Significant Bird Area. We hike along Class V rapids at Devil’s Hole State Park and mountain bike at Sprague Brook Park in the nearby Boston Hills. There’s kayaking in Elevator Alley, windsurfing at Gallagher Beach, sailing all summer long on Lake Erie and paddleboard yoga at Wilkeson Pointe. When the snowpack melts in spring, there’s whitewater rafting on Cattaraugus Creek in the wild solitude of Zoar Valley. It’s no exaggeration to say there aren’t many places where you have so many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

Here are five outdoor adventures you can have in Buffalo.

Fishing: The variety and quality of fishing in and around Buffalo is simply astounding. The waters of Buffalo Harbor teem with smallmouth bass and walleyes while the nearby Niagara River is home to massive muskellunge. A short drive away, deeper, colder Lake Ontario provides a perfect habitat for trout and salmon. In fact, there may not be another location in North America where so many species thrive within casting distance of a major metropolitan area. Pro tip: Hire one of Buffalo’s many charter boat captains to get the inside track on where the fish are found.

Hiking: The wonders of Western New York don’t stop at the brink of the Falls. Just downstream from the world’s most famous waterfall, you’ll find several miles of hiking trails at Devil’s Hole State Park and Whirlpool State Park that take you deep into the heart of the magnificent Niagara Gorge, far from the viewing platforms, souvenir stands and easily accessed attractions that command the typical visitor’s attention. It’s one of the unexpected Buffalo’s best kept secrets.

Kayaking: There was a time in the not too distant past when a kayak in Buffalo was a curiosity. Not anymore. Today, not only are they lashed to the tops of cars from April through November, but there are multiple outfitters found along the Buffalo River and the Lake Erie waterfront that offer boats for rent and guided tours. While there’s no whitewater to test your paddling skills found in the city of Buffalo, there is a genuinely unique stretch of the Buffalo River known hereabouts as Elevator Alley that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Here you’ll find massive grain elevators soaring more than a hundred feet over the river, creating a concrete canyon that’s made to be photographed.

Sailing: Buffalo’s location at the confluence of Lake Erie and the Niagara River make it a perfect spot for all types of watersports and sailing is among the biggest summertime pursuits in the Queen City of the Great Lakes. Weekly regattas and competitions with nearby yacht clubs keep the waters outside the Buffalo breakwall bustling with boats. The best way for a visitor to get out on the water is to charter a boat from Make Sail Time Buffalo. Two-hour picnic sails are available in the afternoon and evening all summer long.

Biking: Buffalo has blossomed into a bike-friendly city in recent years. Miles of designated bike lanes and dedicated bike paths have been built throughout the region and Reddy Bike’s distinctive red bike rentals, which can be found all around town, make two-wheeling a viable option for visitors. For travelers who love to experience a new city by bike, head to the Outer Harbor. Here you’ll find easy access to the historic Buffalo Lighthouse, Buffalo Harbor State Park, Tifft Nature Preserve and miles of paved bike paths. Pro tip: Sunsets at Wilkeson Pointe are a Buffalo classic and sure to generate lots of likes on your Instagram feed.

Ed Healy headshot

Ed Healy

Ed Healy is the former vice president of marketing for Visit Buffalo Niagara.