A Guide to One of the Best Kept Secrets in Western New York
Being a working horse ranch, we usually have our hands full looking after our horses and keeping the ranch ticking over, but outside of our ranch we know there is much to explore around the town of Otto. We don’t want the treasures found right on our doorstep to be ruined, so publicizing the huge opportunity for fun and adventure in the Zoar Valley is something we do reluctantly. However, here at the R&R Dude Ranch we want all of the guests staying with us to know all about the natural wonders that surround our ranch deep in the corner of Western New York. If you begin to love this area as much as we do then hopefully you will keep coming back to visit, and with so much to offer you there is no reason why you should not. Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about the Zoar Valley and how to get the most out of your visit.
Introducing the Zoar Valley
The Zoar Valley is a canyon that has been created by Cattaraugus Creek, and the area around the valley was designated a multiple use area by the Department of Environmental Conservation of New York State when the state acquired the land in 1960. So, the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area has now become a protected area, that covers almost 3,000 acres in total, and it is without a doubt one of the most ecologically diverse and scenic protected areas in Western New York, and perhaps the whole state. The gorge of Cattaraugus Creek is slap bang in the middle of the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area, a gorge with cliffs that get as high as 500 meters tall. This part of the park has been designated a Unique Area and no development is permitted here. Tree specimens found in ancient forests of the Zoar Valley have been recorded as the tallest in the state, and a 128 foot basswood tree found within the valley was noted to be the tallest recorded basswood in the world!
Preparing for Adventure
Before you set off to explore the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area and partake in the many fun activities you can enjoy here, like hiking, fishing, hunting, and kayaking to name a few, you need to do a little preparation. As beautiful as the Zoar Valley is, it can also be a dangerous place for people who are not prepared. Setting off early is a must, and arriving in the afternoon will leave you in danger of quickly falling light and plummeting temperatures. A few basics that really are worth taking are a torch, matches or a lighter to make a fire if needed, and make sure your vehicle will not let you down. You need to be driving out of Zoar Valley before it gets dark, not after, as you could have a hard time finding your way out. Add to that the possibility of breaking down, then you could find yourself in a whole lot of trouble. The whole area becomes pitch black very quickly as the sun goes down, and there is very limited access to the area, so it means rescue parties have a tough time getting in.Locating broken down cars is notoriously difficult in this region, and car recovery trucks can be hard to locate, so having comprehensive breakdown cover is advisable. If for whatever reason you do not have breakdown cover yourself, ask all of your passengers if they have personal based cover. If they do, then they can call out a recovery specialist even if it is not for their own car, as money.co.uk states, “Personal based cover will provide you with breakdown recovery protection whatever car you are in.” Also, tell friends or family staying at home, or us here at the R&R Dude Ranch, where you plan to go, what you will be doing, and when you are planning to be home. That way if you do find yourself in any trouble someone will know about it.
White-Water Rafting and Kayaking
The powerful Cattaraugus Creek that cuts through the Zoar Valley is used for white-water rafting and kayaking during the spring and summer months. March to May is the best time of year for the most exhilarating rides down the river, with ten mile trips along the rushing water taking anywhere from two to four hours. When June arrives the water levels of the river drops, but that does not mean that there is still no fun to be had, and it is much warmer too! Adventure tours that can last all day can easily be arranged, where you can stop for swim breaks in the river and enjoy lunch on the river bank. The river is also very popular amongst river kayakers, and some die-hard kayakers have been known to paddle the river throughout the year, but taking on the river alone and with little experience is not recommended. If you are interested in going white-water rafting or kayaking, trips can be arranged with the
One of the most popular activities for visitors to the Zoar Valley is most probably hiking, as it is the most accessible and all you need are a decent pair of hiking boots. There are plenty or marked out trails to get started with, all varying in difficulty so you can choose one that suite your ability. One of the best all-round trails to try here is the Waterfalls of Zoar Valley trail. There are a total of 12 waterfalls along the eight and a half mile trail, which is best hiked during the summer months, from the beginning of June until the end of August. You really need a full day to complete the whole trail, which will take around 8 hours from start to finish. Other trails to try out include the Valentine Flats and Point Peter Trail, along with the Holcomb Pond Trails. You can download a full map from the Department of Environmental Conservation with trails marked to help you decide.
Choosing an Activity for You
With such a large natural area to explore, you really are only bound by your imagination when it comes to deciding what to do in the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area. Take along a fishing rod and try to hook some of the steelhead trout that swim through the waters of the Cattaraugus Creek. Setup a bird watching hut and see if you can spot some of the beautiful bird species that call the forest here their home. Pack a picnic and find a stunning spot with a scenic vista to enjoy while you eat. The choice really is yours, so now you know about the Zoar Valley, it is up to you to get out there and enjoy it!