Allegheny Outdoor Adventures Bradford, PA

current issue 77 WAYS TO SAVOR SUMMER

This year we threw our nets far and wide to find the best, the coolest, the cheapest, the most delicious, the most enriching, and quite simply the MOST ways to enjoy summer. (Why 77? Because we counted from the first day of summer to Labor Day.)


Some of our best writers helped excavate this summer treasury


Zoar Valley, a 2,927-acre state-owned, multi-use area located in the towns of Otto, Parsia, and Collins, is popular for many reasons. It’s one of our most interesting birding areas and offers the outdoor enthusiast a perfect place to hike, explore, and photograph, with many scenic waterfalls cascading down from cliffs reaching heights of 500 feet. Zoar Valley also offers white river rafting, kayaking along Cattaraugus Creek, and hundreds of adrenaline-producing trails. From Buffalo, take U.S. Route 62 south to Gowanda. For more information on the Zoar Valley experience, call 800-724-0696, or visit


Zoar Valley Canyon

Zoar Valley Canyon.
Photo provided by John Stoneman.

This area is known as the “wildest spot in Western New York.” It glows golden and provides breathtaking scenery along with spectacular views. Like the rest of the area, the canyon should be explored with caution. Some areas require that you pass under dangerous loose shale cliffs. “There are different combinations of trails in the Zoar Valley area, which can be dangerous,” says hiker/photographer John Stoneman. “First-time visitors should be careful and use common sense. There are tens of thousands of us who responsibly hike and enjoy the area each year, but some of the more challenging trails aren’t for everyone.”

Besides the panoramic views, Zoar Valley offers some other scenery seldom encountered in the region. Sure to enchant you, the Gallery of Giants is home to over forty-five species of trees and rare native plants. The oldest trees are up to 500 years old. A Western New York spectacular site, the Gallery of Giants is now scientifically recognized as one of the largest remaining Eastern old growth forests in the United States. You’ll find a variety of rugged and primeval treasures while walking or paddling through the area. To learn more about the Gallery of Giants, check out Bruce Kershner’s Guide to Ancient Forests of Zoar Valley, available through Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment. Call 831-3206.


Get your visit off to a scenic start on Point Peter Road. Park in the lot at the end of Valentine Flats Road.Near the end of the road, you’ll see the trail, which will go to the left, where it heads to Point Peter, a nice overlook, and then to the right. Follow it down the hill and head to your right, but be careful. It turns into a pretty steep incline. At the bottom of the hill, you’ll head toward the water’s edge. Known as “The Flats,” Valentine Flats boasts a beautiful view. It’s flat land completely surrounded by cliffs, waterfalls, and river beach. (Although you’ll see people in the water, up and down the creek and spring-fed pools, swimming is officially banned all summer long.) You’ll also find an abundance of raspberries and blackberries to pick.


Waterman's Cascade

Waterman's Cascade.
Photo provided by John Stoneman.

Zoar Valley’s steep, stone-walled gorge creates truly breath-taking waterfalls. Some are called “cascades,” which rain down from the cliffs reaching heights of 500 feet. The magnificent Waterman’s Cascade is located near Gowanda. Extremely graceful, it drops in a series of falls and rapids, widening as it drops through a wooded and picturesque glen.

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All text and photos on this page © John V Stoneman