By Alicia Dziak
October is a perfect time of year to explore Allegany State Park (ASP), New York’s largest state park. With 65,000 sprawling acres to enjoy, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular destination for so many.
The park’s “peak season” has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. The camp sites are still open for a bit longer, and even after that, you can make plans to stay in the park at one of hundreds of heated cabins or cottages.
For campers, fall’s shorter days translate into earlier nighttime activities. Driving around the park with a bright light is always a hit, and entails shining a spotlight (found at any sporting goods store) into open areas of the park in the hope of spying some nocturnal ASP critters.
Of course, there’s nothing like sitting around a warm fire when the air is crisp. Be sure stock up on s’more supplies and send the kids out looking for the perfect marshmallow roasting sticks. Now’s a great time to experiment with s’mores, too, as the Halloween candy is taking over the store shelves. Trick-or-treat size candy bars make the perfect substitute for the traditional chocolate bars.
Visit www.reserveamerica.com to make your reservations.
If you don’t feel like cooking, grab a bite to eat at the Park Restaurant, located inside the Red House Administration Building. The restaurant offers a variety of fare, including their famous Friday fish fry and Sunday breakfast buffet.
Red House Lake has been lowered recently in order to make way for dam improvements, but Quaker Lake is still open for recreational activities like kayaking and fishing.
Hiking in the fall is breathtaking, and no trip to the park is complete for us without at least one hike on a marked trail. Pick up a park map at either rental office, and select a trail that’s right for you. A variety of terrain and distances provide numerous opportunities for leisurely or more serious hikes. Just take into account an estimate of how long the hike will take, and leave at the appropriate time.
The paved bike path around Red House Lake is also a great way to spend a couple hours.
If you prefer a guided hike, ASP continues its series of hikes called “3rd Saturday Treks.” on Oct. 21. This free, family-friendly hike will be led by park staff and this month, participants will be taken on an interpretative hike through the ruins around Science Lake. Much of the hike will be around the old “Buffalo Science Camp,” or as many people referred to it as “the School in the Forest”. Attendees are asked to meet at the Science Lake parking area (program site 40), located on ASP Rt. 3 at Science Lake, at 10 a.m., and to come dressed for the weather.
In the evening, head to the Quaker Bath House for some great music by the fire. Local musician Paul Crawford will be performing, in what will be one of the last events for the season in the new lakeside room. Crawford is a semi-professional musician in Western New York. He has been playing contemporary and classic rock, contemporary country, and some originals for over 25 years. This free “By the Fireside” event takes place on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For more information call (716) 354-9101 ext. 236 or visit the park’s Facebook page.
Whether you go to check out the leaves, get some exercise or be one with the great outdoors, a visit to ASP is a great way to spend a fall day or weekend!