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By David Lawrence Reade
112 pages, $19.95
By Hans and Allyson Tammemagi
Oakhill Publishing (Ontario)
168 pages, $14.25 U.S.

Growing local awareness of attractions within the Niagara Frontier -- and perhaps a little erosion of the regional inferiority complex that long has held sway here -- provides the impetus for two new guidebooks that explore both beaten and unbeaten paths.

David Lawrence Reade ventures the farthest, covering in gorgeous color photography and simply followed text more than 30 sites on both sides of the border.

His book is delightful in its selection of little-known scenic wonders, and in a format that provides a wealth of information in an easily used outline that even includes a trademarked "Quikfinder" locator map.

Short-range "anytimers" range from the eternal natural gas flame of the Shale Creek preserve in Chestnut Ridge Park to the Zoar Valley, all in or within a reasonably short drive from Buffalo. "Daytrippers" describe delights from Allegany State Park to Watkins Glen, and five suggested weekend journeys visit wonders from Ontario to Pennsylvania to New York's North Country.

It's a "personal favorites" journey by a talented photographer, with good directions and descriptions of amenities and possible activities. Reade makes himself into a personal guide for some hiking and scenic adventures, in an effort to cajole Western New Yorkers into a greater appreciation of their own home region.

The Tammemagis undertake the same sort of guiding effort, along more well-known trails. Their smaller-format effort provides more detailed regional history, from the Welland and Erie canals to the Falls and the vineyards of Niagara.

Complete with color maps, the book outlines more than 50 possible tours in both New York and Ontario, all of them with about half an hour's drive from Niagara Falls. The tours include car, bicycle and hiking rambles, and range from a few hours to a few days in length.

The authors also try to cover a variety of interests, except for the casinos, amusement parks and similar attractions that already saturate the area with advertising. This is a book for those with an eye for nature and history, but there's also a good listing of festivals, re-enactments and annual community events.

Either of these books would also be good gifts for area newcomers, and together they cover both the major and the "secret" attractions of the Niagara Region.

"Beyond Buffalo!" is available from local bookstores and through the publisher, at P.O. Box 326, Boston, N.Y. 14025. "Exploring Niagara" is available at Niagara Parks Commission bookstores in Canada and through Oakhill Publishing, (905) 641-2732.