Allegany State Park: The Complete Guide

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Allegany State Park

Address
2373 ASP, US-1, Salamanca, NY 14779, USA
Phone +1 716-354-9101

Stretching for almost 65,000 acres, Allegany State Park in southwestern New York is the state's largest state park. It's divided into two regions, the Red House Area in the north and the Quaker Area in the south. Both parts offer campsites, lakes and swimming areas, and hiking, biking, and skiing trails. A short drive from both Buffalo and Rochester, Allegany State Park is a regional favorite for outdoor activities and especially camping, as there's space for hundreds of people to stay here in all seasons. Make an extended visit by combining a trip to this state park with the adjoining Allegheny National Forest, over the border in Pennsylvania. Here's what you need to know about visiting Allegany State Park, whether on a day trip or a longer visit.

Things to Do

The Red House and Quaker Areas of Allegany State Park offer similar experiences; when choosing which area to visit, consider which direction you'll be approaching from, or where in the park you'll be camping.

  • Hiking: There are 18 hiking trails in the park, developed for year-round use. They range from half a mile to 18 miles long, although most are between 2 and 5 miles, and are of varying difficulties. Outstanding features of this park are the dense forests and interesting rocky outcrops and caves, and you can see and experience both on a number of hiking trails.
  • Cross-Country Skiing: Many of the park's hiking trails can be used as cross-country skiing trails in the winter. The Art Roscoe Ski Touring Area, in the north of the park, is renowned for having some of the best cross-country trails in this part of the US.
  • Snowmobile Trails: Over 90 miles of snowmobile trails also draw winter sports enthusiasts. If skiing or snowmobiling, accommodation is available in some of the winter-access cabins.
  • Cycling: A paved bicycle path follows Red House Lake, and there are more mountain bike trails around the Art Roscoe Ski Touring Area.
  • Swimming: In summer, the small sandy swimming beaches at Red House Lake and Quaker Lake are good places to cool off. They are patrolled by lifeguards, so swim in the designated area. Swimming is only allowed at these lakes when lifeguards are present, and no inflatables (including those for kids) are allowed.
  • Water Sports: Kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, and SUPs can be rented at Red House Lake for use on that lake and Quaker Lake in the warmer months. The Allegheny River flows to the west of the park and there's a boat launch for boating on the river. Longer kayaking trips can be made along the Allegheny River and into Pennsylvania. The river becomes the Allegheny Reservoir over the border.
  • Administration Building: The mock-Tudor Administration Building overlooking Red House Lake is worth checking out. As well as offices, the building houses a small natural history museum with information about the history and nature of the park, plus a gift shop and restaurant.
  • Nature Trails: Some of the shorter walks have been developed into nature trails that visitors can follow to learn more about the biodiversity of the park. Around 55,000 plant species exist in Allegany State Park, which is the largest area of forest in Western New York. Much of the forest (around 5,000 acres) is old-growth forest. Tree species include hemlock, maple, and beech. Some animals you might spot include deer, black bears, beavers, porcupines, bobcats, bald eagles, osprey, and great blue herons.
  • Wooden Bridge: The oft-photographed Thomas L. Kelly Wooden Bridge is a wooden footbridge over the Red House Creek. It's especially attractive in fall when the surrounding trees are brightly hued.
  • Bridal Falls: While not as large or dramatic as the waterfalls in nearby Letchworth State Park or Buttermilk Falls State Park, the Red House Area's Bridal Falls are nevertheless a pretty sight. Visit after heavy rain, if possible, because the 40-foot-high falls are quite narrow and are most impressive with a heavier flow. They're surrounded by forest and can be reached after a short walk from the parking area. The trail to reach the falls can be slippery in places.

Best Hikes & Trails

More detailed information on the 18 hiking trails, plus maps, can be found on the two websites for Allegany State Park (the Red House and Quaker Areas have different websites).

  • Bear Caves to Mount Seneca Trail: This moderate 4-mile trail takes you past the enormous Thunder Rocks, boulders that were formed around 165 million years ago. Take a flashlight if you want to explore beyond the entrance of some of the caves.
  • Red Jacket Trail: The half-mile Red Jacket Trail is one of the easiest in the park. It passes through forest and dogs are permitted on this trail.
  • North Country Trail: This 18-mile trail is one of the most challenging through the park, and is the longest by far. Only part of it is within the state park as the trail crosses the Pennsylvania border and continues through Allegheny National Forest.
  • Osgood Trail: A much shorter challenging trail, the 2.5-mile Osgood Trail is a better option than the North Country Trail for hikers with less time to commit. It's one of the trails that's accessible year-round.
  • Hemlock Hollow: This 1.7-mile moderately difficult trail is true to its name: follow this short trail through the forest to a hollow of hemlock trees, which are abundant throughout the park.
wooden bridge with roof over a river surrounded by autumnal trees


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Where to Camp

There are three tent and trailer campgrounds within the park with more than 400 sites between the three: the Red House Tent and Trailer Area, the Cain Hollow Camping Area, and the Diehl Tent and Trailer Trail. These are operational between April/May through the end of October.

Both the Red House and Quaker Areas also have cabin accommodation. In total there are almost 400 cabins within the park, about 150 of which are open for winter use (all in the Red House Area but only some in the Quaker Area). Most cabins, but not all, have electricity and refrigerators; all have flush toilets.

All tent/trailer sites and cabins should be booked in advance. Some areas also require a minimum and maximum stay length in the peak summer season.

Where to Stay Nearby

The nearest town to the park, on the northern edge, is Salamanca. The town is within the Allegany Reservation which is home to members of the Seneca Nation of Indians. If you're not camping within the park but want to stay nearby, there are a number of hotels and B&Bs in Salamanca, including four-star accommodation with an indoor pool at the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino.

How to Get There

From Buffalo, Salamanca is a 64-mile drive due south, via the US-219, which takes about 75 minutes. From Rochester, Salamanca is 103 miles southwest, via the I-490, which takes about 2 hours.

Another entrance to the park, on its east, is via the small village of Limestone, 10 miles southeast of Salamanca. The main Quaker Area entrance is beside Quaker Lake, in the southwest of the park, 18 miles (a 25-minute drive) from Salamanca.

Once you're in the park, three main roads and a number of smaller access roads connect the different sections of the park.

Accessibility

With a good network of paved roads and trails, Allegany State Park is reasonably accessible for visitors with mobility issues or families with small children. Attractions like the Administration Building, Red House Lake, and Quaker Lake can be reached via paved road.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Fall is a particularly good time to visit this park, as the red, orange, and yellow leaves are a beautiful sight.
  • Bears are present in Allegany State Park. If camping, follow bear safety tips, such as storing food far from your tent.
  • In peak summer season (end of June to end of August), cabins can only be booked for a minimum of 7 or 14-day .
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The Complete Guide to Allegany State Park in New York