Darien Lake State Park Hike – 6/30/18

Our merry group of 9 beat the extreme heat enjoying a delightful 4-mile hike in the cool forest of Darien Lake State Park — a terrific way to launch the festive holiday week!

The trail was in great shape, with bright orange markers, boardwalks through wet areas, and an impressive new lean-to. We took a relaxing break to snack and chat at the Sumner Road turnaround point.

A variety of trees provided ample shelter from the hot sun, including maple, cherry, hemlock, pine, and  a healthy-looking array of ash trees thankfully not afflicted by the Emerald Ash Borer.

On our pre-hike 2 days earlier to inspect the trail, we spotted a lime-green Luna Moth on a tree trunk, our first sighting in the wild. These beautiful creatures are rarely seen due to their very brief (1 week) adult life.

It’s always a joy to be in the woods. You never know what Mother Nature will reveal.

— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Backpack ‘Ha De Ron Dah’ Wilderness – 5/18-20/18

The Ha De Ron Dah Wilderness is just outside of Old Forge New York in the Western Adirondacks. Our band of seven intrepid backpackers left Buffalo on Friday morning. We hiked in the first night over rolling hills about 5 miles to the Middle Branch Lake lean-to. The site is lovely with nice water access and a glorious sunset.






The second day we hiked about 11 miles in the rain to Middle Settlement lake lean-to. Gusting winds and rain all day made us happy to have a lean-to and some chill time to warm up and enjoy the company. Some of the trail crossings were a bit more challenging than the first day.


Sunday morning we hiked out about 5 miles to finish the trip. Some amazing rock formations and a nice sandwich were our rewards. A great trip with newer backpackers learning from more experienced ones.



— Submitted by Aaron Slosman

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Emery Park Hike – 5/5/18

Eight cheerful hikers enjoyed warm, sunny weather for a 4-mile hike in Emery Park, a WNY gem known for its natural beauty and solitude.

We hiked along ravines on paths selected to see 5 picturesque waterfalls located throughout the park.




We also spotted delightful wildflowers including bloodroot, cut-leaved toothwort, white and red trillium, trout lily, and spring beauty. Spring has finally sprung in WNY!

Cut-Leaved Toothwort



Emery Park was once a vibrant homestead established by Josiah Emery in the early 1800’s, and included an outdoor amphitheater, Emery Inn, gardens, gazebos, a stocked pond, and stone bridges. Remnants of that era remain, including a stone sculpture in the now-dry sunken pond area. One person in our group used to be a waitress at the historic Inn! The Inn is gone, but nowadays this Erie County Park is a multi-use facility, offering hiking trails, a free downhill ski hill with a T-bar lift, a frisbee golf course, picnic shelters, and baseball diamonds.

— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Bruce Trail Hike, Iroquois pt.2 – 4/29/18

Seven adventurous hikers led by Ken Martin continued their journey in the Bruce Trail Iroquois Section on a beautiful wooded footpath from Grimsby to Hamilton Ontario. Our veteran group was unfazed by the wet conditions. We marveled at the astonishing display of scores of earthworms wriggling on a soaking wet part of the trail! Yellow-green mosses decorated sections along the trail (photo). Elsewhere, Spring wildflower plants were bursting through the soil on our 20 km/12 mile journey along the Niagara Escarpment.

Spring rain created many waterfalls on the escarpment and enhanced existing ones, including the spectacular Felkers Falls (photo), which is 20 feet wide and drops over 70 feet from the top into a pool below.

Near the end of our journey, we encountered an irresistible bench with an accompanying sign — “Rest, Look and Listen” — a much-appreciated reminder from the Bruce Trail Conservancy to take those extra moments to savor the natural beauty when hiking in beautiful places.

— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Zoar Valley North Rim Snowshoe – 3/17/18

Three of us met at the Park & Ride on Union Rd. near Main St. in Williamsville and drove to the Zoar Valley Multiple Use entrance on Vail Road. One additional member joined us there. The snow was too deep to park in the lot. We adopted a version of the “fartlek” trail breaking system, where the one in front breaks trail for a while and then moves to the side while the rest of the group passes by with a new “leader” to move through the 18’’ snow-depth. This was not necessary when we got to the rim trail in the woods. The snow depth was less there.

It was a great day for the trip. The temperature was in the high twenties and it was a beautiful sunny day. With the leaves off the trees, the views of the gorge were spectacular. We hiked past the “knife edge” and took a break for a snack. We saw deer and other tracks. It was a great opportunity for photography. The way back to the cars was much easier as we retraced the path we created on the way in.

— Submitted by Richard Schraven

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ADK LOJ Ski/Snowshoe – 3/9-11/18

The Adirondacks never let me down so, I go back every chance I get. A bad day of hiking is better than a good day of work. So it was I signed up for the ADK-NFC annual LOJ outing, coordinated by the ever-so-capable Mary Schraven and her supportive, involved husband, Richard.

We carpooled through wicked weather and arrived at the LOJ to claim our bunks, take a quick snowshoe stroll around Heart Lake and enjoy a wonderful dinner in the dining room. Everyone became fast friends even though I only knew a few and not well at that.

Saturday, we rose early. Some took off to cross country ski at Cascade. Others (like me) snowshoe hiked. We had a great time, knocking Phelps off my 46’er list (even if we didn’t get Table Top. Every ambitious hike I take seems to end one short of what I planned).

On Sunday, we snowshoed again to Avalanche Pass, which was breathtaking, frozen in winter with perfect conditions, pristine wilderness, as close to heaven as you can get without departing this realm.

If you always wondered what this trip was about, whether you would fit in, or if it was worth it, don’t. Sign up as soon as possible next year (Same B1/G1 night free, same weekend 3/8-3/10) and understand, you will be addicted and it promises to be a well-coordinated, well-run trip because of the great job Mary and Richard do.

You can read the author’s daily musings on Facebook.

— Submitted by Joseph Genco

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Laura Secord Trail, part 3 – 3/4/18

Bluebird skies and mild temperatures provided delightful conditions for our merry group led by Ken Martin to complete the popular 20-mile historic Laura Secord Trail. We spotted cars and began our 6-mile hike at Rodham Hall Art Center in St. Catherines, walking along the glistening Twelve Mile Creek for most of the day.


After about 4 miles we climbed the Niagara Escarpment through lush scenic woods and found some nice views of Lake Ontario. DeCew Falls was robust, due to the springlike temps and plentiful snowmelt.

Near the end of our journey we viewed a pair of majestic Mute Swans in Lake Moodie, displaying their sinuous necks and signature orange beak and black head markings.


Our final stop was at the remains of the historic DeCew House. There in 1813, Laura Secord delivered her fateful message to Lieutenant Fitzgibbon of an imminent American attack. She made the 32-km trip in one June day, and carved out her place in Canadian history.

Guelder Rose fruit



— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Letchworth State Park – 2/18/18

For the sixth year in a row, Carolyn and Tim Kerr have rented The Chalet and then invited ADK and Buffalo Nordic friends to Letchworth for the day. Even though there wasn’t enough snow to ski, the new powder made the Cathedral Trail absolutely gorgeous with many running creeks, herds of traveling deer and 12 happy hikers.

Given the thick ice on the trail, many were happy to have micro-spikes and Yak Traks. After the hike, many stayed in the beautiful, historic chalet and enjoyed a potluck lunch together.

Thank you to Carolyn and Tim for sharing this very special place with us all! We will look forward to year #7!

— Submitted by Mary Schraven


Click Here to see more nature photos of winter wonders at Letchworth State Park taken during and after our hike.

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Laura Secord Trail, part 2 – 2/17/18

Five merry hikers enjoyed delightful mild winter weather, hiking on the wooded trails and through parts of the towns of Niagara-On-The Lake and St. Catherines, Ontario.

We hiked 7.6 miles, the second segment of Ken Martin’s 3-part Laura Secord Historical Trail series. It was a joy to hike in the Woodend Conservation Area along the scenic Niagara Escarpment, where our microspikes were invaluable on the wintry terrain. We passed the Niagara College Vineyards, and the modern Wine Education Center and Teaching Brewery. Also on campus we the viewed the inspiring First Nations, Metis and Inuit Gardens.

We crossed the impressive Welland Canal, currently drained since it is closed for the season. It was fascinating to see the dredged canal construction that support the Great Lakes shipping operation. We passed through an historical region of St Catherines which included the beautiful Victoria Lawn Cemetery where many historical figures are buried.

We walked along Dicks Creek and viewed the gigantic Totem Pole in Centennial Gardens Park.

We then walked passed Brock University’s new downtown campus before crossing the robust Twelve Mile Creek to our end point at Rodman Art Center, also part of the Brock U campus.







It was fun to get a taste of Canadian woodlands and culture. The final segment of the Laura Secord Trail will be a 6-mile wooded hike on Saturday March 3.

— Submitted by Janet and David Kowalski

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Grand Island Snowshoe – 2/10/18

Tom Burkman again opened up his lovely home and 13 acres of wooded property on Grand Island to 5 happy hikers. Tom and Janet Kowalski made a wholesome and delicious breakfast while the snow continued to gently fall. We broke a snow shoe trail across Gun Creek, and through the woods, listening to the chatter and calls of various birds and marveling at the beauty of the woods shrouded in white. With a leisurely pace of about 1 mile an hour, (the snow was deep and the topics of discussion were many!) we hiked about 2 hours and burned 312 calories for our effort. Thank you Tom! Your hospitality will be long remembered! Looking forward to a summer kayak on Gun Creek launching at your property!

— Submitted by Mary Schraven

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