Photo provided
A small group of park visitors are shown enjoying cross country skiing during a previous winter.

By Deb Everts

With the new year about to begin, people might be looking for something to do during the month of January. Allegany State Park (ASP) offers a number of activities to keep away the winter doldrums, especially for those who love the outdoors.

Start the new year off right at the “First Day Hike” on Wednesday, Jan. 1. This annual park event offers a healthy and relaxing way for people of all ages to get outside and enjoy the winter beauty of the area. The hike will run from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year, ASP’s Environmental Education and Recreation Department is offering two hikes of varying lengths and difficulty on the Quaker-side of the park. One is at Blacksnake Mountain, which is a three-mile loop using an old railroad bed as part of the trail. The more difficult trail climbs to large cherry, hemlock and tulip poplar trees. The trail is located at Site 41 on ASP Route 3.

A second hike takes participants along the new one-mile Science Lake trail at Site 40 on ASP Route 3. The trail meanders around the lake to the foundations of the “School in the Woods,” which once occupied this area in the 1920s. Guided hikes will begin at 11 a.m. at Blacksnake and 1 p.m. at Science Lake, but park patrons should feel free to hike either trail at any time throughout the day.

Before beginning any of the hikes, participants should register at Camp Turner in the Quaker area and pick up a map. The Friends of Allegany State Park will be providing free hot chocolate, coffee and tea. Starting at noon, the group will be serving chili and hot dogs for participating hikers. People are reminded to dress for the weather and to wear appropriate footwear and/or snowshoes.

Back for the second year, are the “Fat Bike Fun Rides” at Allegany State Park. Enjoy the first ride of the year on Friday, Jan. 3 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Hosted by the park’s environmental education and recreation department and the Western New York Mountain Bike Association (WNYMBA), the rides will take place on various Fridays during the winter months. Participants should check-in at the main lobby of the Red House Administration Building at 6:30 p.m. with the ride beginning at 7.

The courses wind through the Red House area of the park. They are 3 to 5 miles in length and, depending on the weather, the ride lasts about two hours. After the ride, participants are invited to attend a social hosted by WNYMBA in Red House Picnic shelter for hot dogs and door prizes. The fat bike rides are for riders of all levels. People are advised to wear warm clothes, bring a helmet and a headlight.

Starting Jan. 27, park patrons can look for more bike rides on non-holiday Monday nights. On Mondays, participants will meet at the Red House Administration Building at 5:30 p.m. with the rides starting at 6 p.m.

As with all the rides, a limited number of bikes are available free of charge for the program. Participants should pre-register by calling 354-9101, ext. 232, before noon on the day of the ride.

Winter Snowshoe Hikes start up at ASP on Tuesday, Jan. 7. The hikes take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Join other park patrons every Tuesday evening for a trek into the sunset. Park Naturalists will lead interpretive snowshoe treks or hikes if there is not enough snow.

As always, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, bring a flashlight, water and a snack. Meeting places will vary, so anyone interested in participating should call ahead or check the park’s Facebook page. Anyone who needs snowshoes may be able to rent a pair for free. To reserve snowshoes, it’s recommended that people call by noon the day of each hike.

Try a new winter sport that will last a lifetime. Learn how to cross country ski, which is an excellent low impact exercise and easy to learn. Beginning Friday, Jan. 10, the Environmental Education Department will lead “Cross Country Ski Clinics and Tours” on select Friday mornings throughout the winter at 10:30 a.m. Ski clinics and tours will operate out of the Summit Warming Hut. The events will take place on the Art Roscoe trails of Allegany State Park. All levels are welcome.

To reserve a pair of skis, boots and poles free of charge, call ahead before 9 a.m. the day of the program. If there is no snow, the program will be canceled.
For more details on this event and all ASP events, call 354-9101, ext. 236, or email AlleganySP@parks.ny.gov. Visit online at parks.ny.gov and Facebook.