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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Laura Secord Trail, part 1 – 2/3/18

ADK hike leader Ken Martin led a few ambitious 12-mile hikes on Ontario’s Bruce Trail last Fall, and recently responded to requests for shorter distances by organizing 3 easier hikes along the historic Laura Secord Trail, a companion side trail off the Bruce Trail. This trail celebrates the 20-mile journey by ~28-year-old Laura Secord, who in June 1813 ran through forests, and across farms and along country roads to warn British Commander James FitzGibbon of an impending American attack.

After spotting cars, six well-outfitted hikers began a 6.8 mile trek at the Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston ON. We enjoyed sunny winter conditions with fresh powder and a delightful variety of sights and terrains along the way. There were a few ups and downs, and altogether we experienced ~680 feet of elevation gain. We wore microspikes for most of the hike. Last Fall, we encountered a lovely young woman on the Bruce Trail who was a descendant of Laura Secord, and was inspired to retrace her steps. The trail is well-maintained, with sturdy bridges over scenic creeks and even the QEW, and plenty of markers pointing the way. In Ontario it is not uncommon to encounter an artistic Inuksuk, an Indigenous cairn often displayed on country roads and in private landscapes. Also common along the Bruce Trail are the endearing Ladder Stiles, short v-shaped ladders to climb over at property borders.

Near the end of our journey, we sighted a few robins and a flock of Eastern Bluebirds. What a treat!

We look forward to hiking the next 2 segments of the Laura Secord Trail, and embracing the culture and nature trails of our Northern Neighbor.

— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Franklin Gulf Hike – 1/27/18

Five hardy hikers savored spring-like conditions in late January to explore the scenic ravines and enchanting waterfalls at Franklin Gulf County Park. Located near Eden, Franklin Gulf is one of WNY most notable gems, and offers a refreshing wilderness experience for every season. Hiking poles are always recommended for the ups and downs here, and though planned as a snowshoe hike, micro-spikes were ideal for the icy patches and atypical weather we experienced. Old growth trees are a special treat in this unlogged area that was previously owned by John D Larkin, founder of the Larkin Soap Company in Buffalo. The remains of the Larkin cabin foundation provided a fun point of interest along the gorge rim trail. This park has a network of several frequently-used, color-coded trails, and is a year-round joy. Look forward to snowshoeing here when winter returns, followed by hiking among beautiful wildflowers in the spring.

— Submitted by Janet and David Kowalski

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