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Location suggestions for Upstate / Western New York

Hey everybody,

Looking for new places within saw 1- 5 or 6 hours drive from the Buffalo NY area. I am New to the trailspace community and loving it. Past couple years have been advancing in my backpacking skills. I have car camped my whole life. I practice wilderness survival and just love being outside. I live in western new york and would love to hear suggestions on places to day hike, weekend backpack and even long haul with a pack. I will leave out where I have already been as to not deter any suggestions. So here's what I would like to see.

  • Suggested location
  • Best suited for? ex: weekend trip, overnight etc.
  • Little known features; such as a great swimming hole, or an amazing restaurant nearby.
  • Best season
  • Any other tidbit you would like to add

I look forward to reading any suggestions. Then I will toss in some of my gems if any of you are in my neck of the woods. Literally. :)

Hi Justin,

First of all, welcome to Trailspace. I've only been here for a couple months now, but the insight I've received on gear from gear reviews, the trail tips I've learned from reading the forums and the places I've come to know because of people's trip reports have all been excellent. Welcome and I hope you stay for awhile.

I grew up in NWPA and then lived in Buffalo for a time after college - West Side, only a short walk to the lake. The sunsets are incredible there. 

Anyways, everyone I knew in WNY always talked about Letchworth State Park. I got to know some mountain biker at the bike shops in Buffalo and Letchworth was all they ever talked about. Hiking friends were the same way. I'm sure if you live in Buffalo you can find people who know a lot more about Letchworth than I do.

In the SW corner of the state, near Chautauqua Lake and not far from Jamestown in Panama Rocks. This is a nice day-trip area and lots of fun to explore. The one downside of this is that security is as tight as an airport. You can't bring in any disposable items and they check all your bags. One big bonus though, is that Southern Tier Brewing Company's headquarters is close by. 

Also in Jamestown, if you're into birds at all or have kids who like nature exhibits are both the Audubon Nature Center (with 5 miles of trails) and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History (also with some trails, but less so). 

If you cross the border in NWPA, there are lots of day-hiking trails at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA. 

There is also a large variety of day-hiking and multi-day hiking trails in the Allegheny National Forest, in NWPA. Two particularly enjoyable day-hikes in this area are the Heart's Content Scenic Area and the Hector Falls trail. Heart's Content, although well known in the area, is never overcrowded but you'll likely see people. Heart's Content is known for it's outstanding old growth forest. Walk slowly and take the time to look up at these trees. Hector Falls on the other hand is not as well known and is omitted from many of the trail books and maps of this area. You'll be able to find photos and directions online though with a little research. The trail is maybe 2 miles roundtrip, so it's a great place to picnic on top of some sizable glaciated rock formations.

The Allegheny NF is close to Warren, PA, which is also a good starting point for a multi-day or single day paddle down the Allegheny River. You'll certainly see some wildlife while hiking the national forest, but you'll see lots more paddling the river. 

Lastly, I haven't hiked there, but many friends have recommended Oil Creek State Park, in NWPA as a good option for hiking and biking. The small town of Titusville, PA is nearby and their downtown's Blue Canoe Brewery is worth the drive alone. 

Most of these suggestions are best spring through autumn. It's tough hiking in this region in the winter, but it is doable. Just be sure to wear bright orange, because their are lots of hunters in the woods in SWNY/NWPA, mostly in late autumn and winter.


Thanks for the awesome post!! I am impressed with your knowledge of the area. I was even more happy to see that there were a few places I have not adventured yet. Although I have spent some days/nights in the ANF in PA, I have yet to visit Hearts Content or Hector Falls. I have also pinned Blue canoe brewery on my "To do" list. As well I'll be looking into the nature preserves you noted as well with my son. He loves nature as much as I do.

Again, thank you for the input and I hope to see more from other forum members. I think I'll finalize this with some pics and locations that I enjoy in this area at some point.

That would be great to see some photos and little write-ups about the places you've been in the area. I get up there often and would love to try out some new spots.

I'll have to go through my photos and see if I have some from places like Hector Falls, ANF, Heart's Content, Presque Isle SP, and more. I'll try to upload them sometime in the near(ish) future.

Oh, and regarding Blue Canoe Brewery in Titusville, PA, they have a Snickers beer that is made with actual Snickers. They usually release it after Easter and Halloween, when they can buy tons of Snickers bars for really cheap. All their beers are good, but if you want something a bit odd, but still really good, try that beer. As for food, it all good, but the PA 'Shrooms appetizer is the absolute go to. Local mushrooms stuffed with cheese, herbs and local crawfish (a.k.a. crawdads). They are unbelievably good. 


The Finger Lakes and Adirondacks are the obvious choices for wild country in NY. If I were you I would find a canoe as soon as possible and get someone to teach you to paddle. You are near one of the great canoeing regions anywhere. Ontario is not that far for big trips either. Temagami immediately comes to mind.

Hey Pine,

Thanks for the tips. Any specific areas you would suggest in those regions? I have been through the Wilds region of Adirondacks once, and not really had much opportunity to explore much of the finger lakes. I have canoed and kayaked locally through the Erie canal and some areas of Niagara River.


I know the Adirondacks is an area I would like to get back to for sure. I would like to see some of the high peaks regions, but I do not like very high traffic touristy areas. I understand some of that locale can get quite busy and the rules are strict due to wildlife concerns, which is understandable.

I've been to the high peaks area twice and both times the area was teeming with so many people that it turned me off. I recommend trying your best to avoid the peak season, especially during weekends when there are triathlons, bike races, etc. Last time (2012) my visit coincided with the Lake Placid IronMan race and the area was packed. But, all that to say, the view from the top of the mountains is spectacular and worth it, even if you're sharing it with many others. Maybe I'll visit again, but for now, I'm much happier hiking in places with far fewer people. 


I have not paddled in NY State but have heard about it all my life and have only driven through. The beauty of a canoe is it can get you away from all the people and allow you to travel in relative comfort compared to backpacking. A few portages will really thin out the crowds in a hurry. Find a guide book or better yet stop in a paddling shop and ask around. Good luck.


As I age I only go on short backpacking trips of 2-4 days, but spend at least a couple of weeks in a canoe each year. It is a sport for a lifetime.

For canoeing you can check out the route that I did a few times as a teenager in the 1970s (week long trip).  Put in at Old Forge on First Lake, do the Fulton Chain, then from Eighth Lake portage to Browns Tract Ponds, go to Raquette Lake, then Forked Lake and Long Lake.  From the end of Long Lake take the Raquette River to whatever point you want to pull out.  We usually pulled out just before Tupper Lake.

On that route there is a mix of towns and wilderness.  The first section of the Raquette River draining Long Lake had a real wilderness feel to it.  On some of the lakes, there are little islands that are good campsites that you will have to yourself.  The Fulton Chain lakes will be very different from one part to the other.  For example, there is a lot of civilization around the west end of Seventh Lake, but the east end feels much more remote.  Eighth Lake has a public campground at the west end, but the east end has no roads (and a great camping beach).

We always had the best luck in the High Peaks region by going in the fall (early October).  Of course, there can be weather issues, but the mosquitoes and black flies will be gone and the crowds will be thinned out.

Great advice Lambertiana. Thanks for giving the details on your previous paddling trips. If I head back up that way, I suspect it will be to paddle and not hike. The crowds on the trials up there turned me off a bit. 

I saw some friends yesterday, the son of a close friend and his girlfriend. They just graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla and are headed for Madison, Wisconsin with great new jobs. We had the same conversation about paddling. It is a mecca for paddleheads.

Amazing tips Lambertiana,

My GF really wants to take a canoe trip and I will definitely start mapping out that area for a possible trip. I love the Wilds regions of ADK, spent a week on queer lake, and hiked the surrounding trails and have been longing to get back ever since.  


We just got back from a weekend trip on the Kinzua reservoir in Allegany National Forest in PA for her first backpacking trip Ill post a report link here once I get all my pics and such together.



I unfortunately did not get a chance to hit the Blue Canoe this time as we did not want to leave. But I did hot up the Wells Hog wild BBQ in warren for some darn good BBQ. Perfect cap to a weekend of trail food. :) 

Good to know, Justin. I haven't been to Wells Hog Wild BBQ, but will next time I'm up that way. Great to hear you explored the Kinzua Reservoir. Any eagles? They're typically pretty easy to spot around the reservoir. 

Just a quick note…it's Allegany in New York, and Allegheny in PA, (and I've heard it's Alleghany in the south). The spelling variations come from whether it was the French or English who were using/writing it. 

If you get back to the area, I suggest a day (or two or three) paddling on the Allegheny River. You can put in right in Warren and camp on the wooded islands downriver. Great way to spend a day or make it a comfortable multi-day trip. Easy paddling and lots of wildlife. 

Looking forward to the trip report.

Justin, have you been able to put together a trip report yet? 

Hey there,

I finally got the pics from all my friends. I'll really have to get to work on it. I start nursing school in september and I think I'll be swamped. Hopefully real soon. :) Sorry been a crazy summer.

September 20, 2020
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