WNY Refresh readers responded to recent inquiries about their favorite walking places by touting spots that include the Amherst, Clarence and Newstead bike paths, Buckhorn State Park on Grand Island, Glen Park in Williamsville and anywhere in Lewiston. One reader recommended the Erie Canal towpath between Lockport and Brockport – and another, obviously glad we are on the doorstep to summer, talked about walking to his favorite ice cream stand.
“I love walking through the local cemeteries, of course,” wrote Nancy Weil, director of bereavement support services with the Catholic Cemeteries in the Buffalo Diocese. “Very peaceful and reminds me of how important it is to live each day fully, to think about the legacy I will leave behind and to reflect on every life represented in the cemetery and how loved they were by someone.”
Other popular spots include the following:
1. Erie County Forest Genesee and Warner Golf roads, East Concord
The Civilian Conservation Corps planted 7.5 million trees on these county-owned acres in southern Erie County. It shows. Another favorite of Philip L. Haberstro, executive director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, the forest features several miles of trails popular with hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
2. Chestnut Ridge Park
6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park
You can overlook Lake Erie and the Buffalo skyline from the high point of this 1,213-acre Erie County park or find yourself walking in woodlands beside a stream. Roads and pathways get pretty hilly here, which can make for a challenging walking, running or biking excursion. You can rent a shelter here, too, and see the Eternal Flame, a wisp of light embedded into a shale bed waterfall. The trailhead to that site is off Route 277.
3. Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
1101 Casey Road, Basom
This sprawling 5,000-plus-acre preserve, operated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, plays temporary home to more than 250 species of migratory birds – including two nesting pairs of bald eagles – and 46 species of mammals. Trails and overlooks are open from sunrise to sunset. Vanessa Wazny of Lake View is among its fans, though she prefers to paddle the refuge waterways rather than walk its trails.
4. Terrapin Point to Table Rock Niagara Falls
WNY Refresh Editor Scott Scanlon’s favorite walk in the region is an eye-popping, 8-mile, round-trip international voyage that can take a full day to complete. That’s because you can easily get sidetracked at Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Clifton Hill and other attractions. Start on Goat Island in Niagara Falls State Park and head to Canada across the Rainbow Bridge. That costs 50 cents. Remember to bring your passport or enhanced driver’s license. If you stop for a meal or beverage, think healthy foods, wine or water – which means you can burn more calories than you take in.
5. Whirlpool to Devil’s Hole state parks
Robert Moses Parkway, Niagara Falls (nysparks.com)
Hikers Marty Ruszaj and Janet Kowalski, both of Amherst, love this 3-mile hike between two state parks north of the mighty cataracts in Niagara Falls. Construction through November will limit access in some areas, but Kowalski occasionally leads hikers down the stairwell at Whirlpool Park, along the Niagara Gorge floor and up the stairwell at Devil’s Hole, for the Adirondack Mountain Club Niagara Frontier Chapter (adk-nfc.org). State Parks urges walkers to use extreme caution when hiking the gorge.
Walk with friends
A Walk in the Park: Starts at 9:45 a.m. next Saturday at Akron Falls Park Cummings Lodge and continues at the same time June 6 at Isleview Park Gazebo; June 13 at Como Lake Park Casino; June 20 at Emery Park Field House; and June 27 at Chestnut Ridge Park Casino. Register for these free races starting at 9 a.m. at the starting points. Also includes health screenings and informational material. Hosted by the Erie County Health and Parks departments, and the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo.
Walking on Wednesdays: Meet Wellness Institute staff at noon Wednesday in Kaminski Park in front of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elk and Carlton streets. Free guided walk runs from 12:10 to about 12:45 p.m. For more info, visit healthycommunitynetwork.com.
Explore Buffalo: Knowledgeable guides take you on a two-hour foot tour in spots that include “Millionaire Mile” on Delaware Avenue, the Buffalo waterfront, sites impacted by U.S. presidents, Larkinville and Allentown (for a mob tour). Walking tours are $15 per tour or $5 for students (bike and bus tours also are offered). To register, for discounts and more info, visit explorebuffalo.org or call 245-3032.
Foothills Trail Club: This club offers several hikes a week across Erie and Niagara counties. Annual membership costs $22 for individuals and $30 for families. Register at foothillstrailclub.org.
Meetup.com: There are 850 members of this online group’s Walking & Fun Activities for Fitness group in the Buffalo area. Upcoming gatherings will be at Como and Delaware parks, Canalside and the canal front in the Tonawandas. The social media site’s Buffalo Hiking Club has more than 1,000 members and tends to go a bit farther afield for longer walks. Find these groups at meetup.com/Walkiing-For-Fitness, and meetup.com/Buffalo-Hiking-Club, respectively.
Reinstein Woods: The nature preserve at 93 Honorine Drive in Cheektowaga offers free summer walking programs including a stroller strut at 10 a.m. June 24; senior strolls at 10:30 a.m. June 24, July 8 and 22, and Aug. 5 and 19; and a “Buck Moon Walk” with information about white-tailed deer at 8:30 p.m. July 31. Registration is required for these walks by calling 683-5959.