One of the truly great things about Buffalo is our great outdoors. If you thrive on fresh air, being close to nature and plenty of exercise, Buffalo is the place to be. Here are eight hikes that have been tested and approved by Visit Buffalo’s Niagara’s team of outdoor enthusiasts.
Just 45 minutes from downtown Buffalo, Beaver Meadow is crisscrossed with a series of well-marked trails, ranging from easy to moderate levels of exertion, making it perfect for hikes with children. Pick up a map at the parking lot and head across the road to the aptly named Rusty Stove Trail. Here you’ll find – wait for it – a rusty stove in pieces on the ground — a remnant, no doubt, of a long-ago farm that stood in these woods. Stop by the Interpretive Center on your way out to learn a little about the flora and fauna that flourish here.
This hike skirts both the Niagara River and the marshy expanse that comprises most of Buckhorn. The 4.1 out-and-back trail takes you under the Grand Island bridges that carry I-190 north, but hike a little further and you’ll find yourself away from the hum of traffic at the tip of the Buckhorn Peninsula. You’ll be right in the middle of the Niagara River as it rushes to the brink of the Falls and plummets downward, creating a plume of mist hundreds of feet high.
Part of the Zoar Valley conservation landscape, Deer Lick is a relatively easy 3.1-mile hike that wanders through towering old growth trees and gently flowing streams, culminating in a spectacular view of the valley far below. Established by the Nature Conservancy, the trail is well-marked and well-maintained. As with all hikes in and around Zoar Valley, be extra cautious as you near the edge of the cliffs.
This four-mile out-and-back hike in the town of Hamburg was described by Visit Buffalo Niagara blogger Eileen Healy as “a place that was worthy of comparison to some of the most impressive natural places we had visited in the past – a deep gorge with a fast-flowing stream seen through a curtain of new green growth.”
The rolling hills south of Springville provide the perfect setting for the sculpture of Larry Griffis, Jr. and friends. Scores of massive steel sculptures dot the hillsides and circle a pond – imaginative creatures great and small seen through the eyes of one of Buffalo’s most renowned artists. There’s no other walk through woods like it in all of Western New York.
VBN correspondent Jay Josker described Hunter’s Creek as a hidden gem that reminds him of some of our national parks. “There’s a turn in the gorge that looks like a section of The Narrows in Zion. A heavy spring rain will make the creek gush like Yosemite’s Merced, and if you go on an off-day it’s secluded enough to make you think you’re in Glacier. The scenery isn’t quite the same and the trails are comparatively easy, but you’d be hard pressed to find another spot around here that so fully immerses you in nature.”
Massive rock formations and the passageways cut through them by thousands of years of erosion make Little Rock City a magical place to explore. Located south of Ellicottville, this is the most remote hike on our list, taking you deep into the heart of Western New York to a place of geologic wonder.
The ride south from Buffalo is almost as enticing as the hike. Route 240 meanders alongside the twists and turns of Cazenovia Creek, through the lovely villages of West Falls and Colden and into the part of Western New York locals like to call “ski country.” You’ll pass Kissing Bridge ski resort just before making a left into Sprague Brook Park, where you’ll find a lengthy trail that loops around the park’s namesake stream. Depending on the time of the year, prepare to get your feet wet crossing the brook.