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Old 04-18-2020, 02:23 PM   #1
hikingandwildex
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West Falls Park (Western N.Y.)

Was originally planning to hit up a bunch of national parks in California this spring including Yosemite, but those plans were derailed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. So I have to settle for local hikes in Western New York and the Western Southern Tier for the time being. Fortunately I continue to discover new places all the time. Here's one of them: J.P. Nicely Memorial West Falls Park:











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Old 04-18-2020, 08:13 PM   #2
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Nice photos.

I spent the winter working in Buffalo (mostly Amherst). I didn't have a huge amount of free time but I was able to get some hikes (and even a few overnight trips) in. Didn't make it to West Falls Park but I did check out a bit of Darien Lake State Park, plus also parts of the Eastside and Westside Overland Trails down in Chautauqua County. I also did some poking around on the Finger Lakes trail north of Allegany State Park.
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Old 04-18-2020, 09:33 PM   #3
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West Falls park is one of my local go-to places. Just 10 minutes away for me, my dogs just love playing in the creek.
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Old 04-19-2020, 08:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
I spent the winter working in Buffalo (mostly Amherst). I didn't have a huge amount of free time but I was able to get some hikes (and even a few overnight trips) in. Didn't make it to West Falls Park but I did check out a bit of Darien Lake State Park, plus also parts of the Eastside and Westside Overland Trails down in Chautauqua County. I also did some poking around on the Finger Lakes trail north of Allegany State Park.
Those are all nice places to hike. Did you have a chance to check out this lean-to in Darien Lakes State Park when you were there?





Can't remember whether this was near the main FLT Conservation Trail that runs through the park or the blue-blazed trail that intersects with it.

Only dayhiked small sections of the Chautauqua Overland Trails so far (the part below Erlandson Overview as the leaves were changing last October and around Boutwell State Forest where I snowshoed at the beginning of the year). The FLT/NCT, Bruce Trail, and Erie Canal Bike Path are my top priorities when it comes to incrementally completing longer trails in the area, but I wouldn't mind hiking more of the Overland Trails as well. Probably as dayhikes or weekend overnighters since I like to conserve my limited vacation time for more faraway destinations.

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West Falls park is one of my local go-to places. Just 10 minutes away for me, my dogs just love playing in the creek.
I stumbled upon West Falls Park while searching for nearby attractions on my GPS after spending the morning wandering around Knox Farm. Wasn't really expecting much at what initially appeared to be a small town park. Little did I know that there was an extensive series of wooded trails behind the field leading to a creek with three seasonal waterfalls cascading down small cliffs. What an awesome surprise! Judging by the number of cars in the parking lot, it doesn't appear to be much of a secret amongst the locals, but nothing like Letchworth, Zoar Valley, and Eternal Flame Falls that I imagine are completely overrun with people right now.
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Old 04-19-2020, 09:31 AM   #5
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I actually was able to get away for a 2 night trip and camp in both of the lean-tos at Darien Lakes State Park. You need a free permit from the state park to camp in them but it is otherwise allowed. That lean-to (which I've taken to calling the Gorczynski Memorial Lean-to after the plaque hanging inside it) is the one on the Conservation Trail. The other lean-to is an older one in a red pine plantation located maybe a half mile off of the CT on a blue-blazed side trail.

I'd hoped to hike one of the two overland trails in its entirety as a backpacking trip this spring, but the contract I was on ended a little earlier than I'd expected. I was able to get down that way for 1 night trips on 2 separate weekends- I stayed 1 night at one of the Arkwright Lean-tos, and another night at the Tarbox Camp Lean-to.

I do have a bunch of photos from my hikes in the area over the course of the winter but I haven't yet gotten around to editing/uploading them. Maybe I'll try to get that done today.

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Old 04-19-2020, 09:31 AM   #6
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I hope you guys have been to Letchworth
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Old 04-19-2020, 09:46 AM   #7
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I hope you guys have been to Letchworth
Yep, backpacked the Letchworth Trail back in December of 2015.

Photo album: https://goo.gl/photos/jkvRG9kkVCWbt8Nr6

Trip report: http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=22655
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Old 04-19-2020, 11:02 AM   #8
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I actually was able to get away for a 2 night trip and camp in both of the lean-tos at Darien Lakes State Park. You need a free permit from the state park to camp in them but it is otherwise allowed. That lean-to (which I've taken to calling the Gorczynski Memorial Lean-to after the plaque hanging inside it) is the one on the Conservation Trail. The other lean-to is an older one in a red pine plantation located maybe a half mile off of the CT on a blue-blazed side trail.
I figured you've been to that lean-to since you've been to so many in NYS and the eastern half of the country. Not sure if I recall seeing the other one in Darien Lakes State Park. I hiked in Sugar Hill State Forest (where there are also multiple lean-tos) the following day so they all blur together right now. Looking at my old photos, I snapped a photo of this sign but not of the lean-to itself:



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I hope you guys have been to Letchworth
I've been to Letchworth more times than I can count. Mostly to the more popular western side of the park, stopping at the various overlooks and waterfalls. Last fall, I explored the quieter eastern side and took some photos and videos along the way.
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Old 04-19-2020, 11:27 AM   #9
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Yeah, that's the side trail that leads to the second (older) lean-to. That trail hasn't been well maintained, unfortunately- it gets a bit overgrown and wet the closer you get to the lean-to.

The older lean-to is in kind of a nice spot, like I said it's a red pine plantation. The lean-to itself could use some TLC... it's accumulated no shortage of "stuff" over the years. I packed out what I could but there was a lot more of it.
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Old 04-19-2020, 11:29 AM   #10
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Here's a photo of the older lean-to that I took on a recon trip there when I first got to Buffalo back in November:

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Old 04-19-2020, 12:13 PM   #11
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Here's a photo of the older lean-to that I took on a recon trip there when I first got to Buffalo back in November:

Don't recall seeing that lean-to when I hiked there the first weekend of November 2019. Thanks for sharing and for helping to clean up the place.
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Old 04-19-2020, 02:34 PM   #12
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Since you also mention Sugar Hill State Forest: A few years ago, while driving back to NY from a backpacking trip in PA, I spent some time poking around both South Bradford State Forest and Sugar Hill State Forest.

South Bradford State Forest has a very nice lean-to (the Moss Hill lean-to). I actually had enough time for another night out before heading home so I camped here for a night. Nearby is the northern terminus for the Great Eastern Trail. Here's a link to an album of my photos from South Bradford State Forest: https://photos.app.goo.gl/bfu18tt3fqNxpsmf7

Sugar Hill State Forest is also nice. There's a neat campground on the summit of Sugar Hill, in the clearing where the fire tower and observer's cabin sits. It's car camping (the public can drive to the summit) but the sites are all primitive, first come, first serve sites (with the normal state land use regulations). The DEC employs a seasonal ranger (AFR) who lives in the observer's cabin and keeps an eye on the campground and surrounding network of trails in the summer. A few years ago I crossed paths with one of the former AFRs who worked there; he had all kinds of stories of some of the shenanigans he'd witnessed in the campground. Apparently it can occasionally get a tad bit rowdy there (but he said that usually it wasn't too bad).

The network of trails at Sugar Hill also offers a bunch of relatively easy hiking options. I think most of the trails are used for horseback riding but they make for pleasant hiking also. There's 5 lean-tos scattered around the state forest; I think 2 of these (Sugar Hill Lean-tos #1 and #2) are open to CP-3 access, allowing those with disabilities to get a permit to drive an ATV into the lean-to site. The Parks Hollow Lean-to was really nice, and the Van Zandt and Buck Settlement Lean-tos weren't half bad. When I spoke to the AFR mentioned above, he indicated that the lean-tos don't get a huge amount of use, despite the popularity of the summit campground.

There's also a lot of neat history and geology to the area- an impressive waterfall (Ebeneezer's Crossing on Glen Creek), old foundations left behind from a village that was abandoned around the turn of the century, and an old cemetery hidden in the woods near the village site. It's definitely an area worth visiting for anyone looking for more hiking options in western/central NY. Here's a link to an album of photos I took during my day visit there: https://photos.app.goo.gl/DufbHXKxAizhA1PS6
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Old 04-19-2020, 05:49 PM   #13
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Cool photos DSettahr! Visiting waterfalls has always been one of my favorite activities in the outdoors and the Southern Finger Lakes area has no shortage of them. I'll have to add the ones from your Sugar Hill photo album to my ever-expanding wishlist since I know for sure that I haven't seen those before. Once this coronavirus passes, I'd like to return to Sugar Hill State Forest anyway to check out the views from the firetower cabin when it's open. Both times I went up there (April and November), the cabin was closed so I just went up as high as I could.

The last time I was there, I passed by a few of the lean-tos and encountered smoke emanating from a Miller Lite beer can inside a firepit. Whoever was responsible was in clear violation of Leave No Trace of Poor Taste principles!



Yep, lots of trails in that state forest. It was kind of dreary when I last hiked there, with a mix of snow and rain -- which in a way was a nice respite from all the fairweather hiking I usually do haha!

Speaking of old cemeteries, one of the next places I'll be exploring is Jersey Hill State Forest where there apparently are old tombstones around the former firetower site. Have you ever been there or in adjacent Karr Valley Creek SF?
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