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Where to see Western New York's most vibrant fall colors

Where to see Western New York's most vibrant fall colors

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If, as Albert Camus said, "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower," a second spring will be in bloom across Western New York this weekend.

Most of Erie and Niagara County are still in mid-color change, but fall leaves in parts of the Southern Tier and along sections of Lake Erie will be blazing, according to the week's fall foliage report from the Empire State Development Division of Tourism's I Love NY program. The report is put together using information from volunteer field observers who make predictions about upcoming color conditions.

In Erie County, areas near Boston and Hamburg will have the best of what nature has to offer. About 80 to 90% of the leaves have changed colors in those areas and are at their peak. Red leaves are expected to be particularly vibrant. In Springville, leaf watchers will find about 70 percent of the leaves in transition.

Up to 80% of the leaves in Chautauqua, Allegheny and Cattaraugus counties will be in full color, according to volunteers there. Foliage in Cattaraugus County will be at its peak, with especially brilliant orange and red leaves. Chautauqua County will be at its peak, too, or close to it. While Allegany State Park will be just past peak foliage, oak trees there will be just beginning their transformation.

About half of the leaves have turned in most of Genesee and Orleans counties. Leaf spotters in Batavia expect mostly red, purple and brown leaves this weekend. Albion spotters predict bright yellow, orange and deep red.

Only about half of the leaves in the Buffalo area will have turned, showing off golden yellow, orange, red and purple foliage. Niagara Falls-area foliage is just getting started, with 25% of its leave in transition to yellow, orange and red.

If you're looking to fill your weekend with autumn's vibrant colors, here are a few places to try.

Alfred: There are more than a dozen forests and state lands spanning Alfred, in Allegany County, to the north and northwest. Pick a few and take a leisurely drive.

Jamestown: The Jamestown area is ablaze. If you're looking for a short hike, travel over the rustic footbridges at Bentley Nature Preserve on Bentley Avenue. Meander south toward the Pennsylvania border or east toward Allegany State Park for a full show.

Chautauqua: The area along Lake Erie, beginning in Hamburg and traveling to Chautauqua and beyond, has some of Western New York's richest color.

The Chautauqua Institution's National Historic District will look great this time of year. Chautauqua Lake's 750-acre shoreline can be walked or biked. And many of the area's quaint shops and restaurants have not yet closed for the season.

Franklin Gulf Park: Leaves are in the early stages of color change in this 637-acre woods in Eden. Because it's a conservation park, some trail markings can be spotty, but you'll find creeks, waterfalls, ravines and ledge outcroppings. There is parking on Larkin Road just before the North Collins border.

Scoby Dam Park: In the Town of Concord, some of the richest colors in Western New York can be found at Scoby Dam Park. Scoby Dam Trail in the park is an easy back trail hike with wide paths and great views of both Cattaraugus Creek and the hydroelectric dam. The fishing is supposed to be great, too.

Ellicottville: The leaves in the Ellicottville area, especially heading south and southeast toward Interstate 86, are nearing their peak. Zoar Valley is on the way and is always a reliable place to see nature on full display.

Sky High Scenic Drive: You'll have a great vantage point, journeying through wide valleys, hitting the highest elevation in Western New York up Alma Hill Road, and ending among steep hills. Start in Wellsville on Route 19 and take in its Main Street and the town park, then continue east on 417, where you'll pass the bird-filled Brown Marsh. From there, you have your choice of taking the rougher Route 30 or turning south on Route 22 in Andover to 39 West. You'll end at Alma Pond, a great place to stop for pictures.

Up for a longer drive? Cortland and parts of the Finger Lakes are at peak or near-peak foliage. You could jump on U.S. Route 20A to Route 20 near Canandaigua Lake, where the leaves are nearing their full color. Continue on Route 20, skimming the tops of Owasco and Skaneateles Lakes to Interstate 81 and you'll land in the Cortland area, which is at its peak and has 80% of its leaves on colorful display. You'll travel through bucolic landscapes, touch Seneca Lake and go through the Montezuma Swamps.

You could also branch off toward Oswego, where colors are right around peak.


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