Allegheny Outdoor Adventures Bradford, PA

Zoar Valley - Gowanda, NY

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Waterfalls     Top of Knife Edge Ridge     Indian Head   
A bad day at Zoar is better than a good day at work!

Zoar Valley State Multiple Use Area

The Zoar Valley State Multiple Use Area (MUA) is a 2927 acre state owned multi use area located in the Town of Otto, Cattaraugus County. Zoar Valley Gorge is centered around the Cattaraugus Creek, and the South Branch of the Cattaraugus Creek. White water rafting is popular on the Cattaraugus Creek, along with hiking, exploring, photography (with many scenic waterfalls) and sunbathing, bird watching, among other interests. These state lands are included in the towns of Otto, Persia, and Collins.

This is a VERY dangerous area, so take great care!

Among the dangers are: falling from cliffs; drowning in the deep, swift swimming holes; getting hit from falling rocks; snakes; broken glass in the creek beds; debris thrown from the cliffs; getting trapped on a terrace from fast rising water; getting lost; seeing fat, naked mid-aged men; etc. These are but a few of the dangers at Zoar, however, MOST are avoidable.

Some people may want to be aware, there is an area with naturist sunbathing and skinny-dipping. The"Naturist area"(upstream from Valentine's Flats) is quite popular. Although "swimming" is officially banned, all summer long, you will see people playing in the water, up and down the creek! The naturist area is somewhat "contained" in an out-of-the-way terrace, but expect to see naturist anywhere in the valley. Also be aware that woman (and girls) are allowed to be topless on NY state property.

There are many waterfalls in the area, some are called "cascades" that rain down from the cliffs that reach heights of 500 feet! You will be trespassing if you hike off the Zoar MUA property. I have decided to remove all my directions and maps to Zoar because of the number of people going there to "party", litter, and disrupt others.

From: Mr. Stephen McCabe
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 12:30 PM
Subject: Fw: South Branch of the Catt
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2008 2:44 PM
Subject: South Branch of the Catt

Hi John, In-as-much as you've been helpful and proactive in the past, I'm calling on you yet again for support and a favor: could you please post the following announcement on your Zoar Valley web site? As you'll see, it's pretty much a self-explanatory attempt to announce the steps that three South Branch landowners are taking to try to stem the ever-growing tide of destruction that has been going on down there. I know you and I have discussed the problem at some length in the past and I'm not sure whether you've been down the South Branch lately, but the time has long since come and gone to try to reclaim the area.

Here's the copy, in bold, that I'd ask you to post:

Landowners in the South Branch gorge of Cattaraugus Creek are coordinating an educational and law enforcement effort to reclaim their property from an increasingly dangerous and destructive pattern of abuse by trespassers. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York (NSSWNY) have joined other private property owners in the gorge immediately upstream from the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area (MUA) to post their property against trespassing in compliance with New York State Environmental Conservation law, Section 11-2111.

Contrary to several published guidebooks (Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Zoar Valley Canyon (Citizen's Campaign for the Environment 2001) and Secret Places: Scenic Treasures of Western New York and Southern Ontario (Kendall Hunt Publishing Co. 1994), both by Bruce Kershner, and anonymous copy posted on numerous Web sites), the South Branch gorge & upstream from the MUA has always been private property, and trespassing has neither been condoned nor welcomed there. The South Branch gorge has been the site of deaths, injuries, rescues, forest fires, alcohol and drug use, vandalism, cutting of trees, destruction and disturbance of plant and wildlife habitat, graffiti "tagging," and littering by an ever growing number of trespassers.

A map of the MUA is posted in an informational kiosk at the Forty Road parking lot and can be downloaded directly as Figure 5, "Access and Parking," from the NYSDEC Web site here: In addition, warning signs have been posted at the boundary of the MUA to inform visitors of where the border of the MUA is located. TNC and NSSWNY volunteers and private landowners have been working with NYSDEC Forest Rangers on an educational effort to advise visitors to the MUA of its boundaries. For example, during the Labor Day weekend, more than 300 MUA visitors were turned back with warnings after attempting to trespass on private land in the South Branch gorge; despite this effort and warning, more than two dozen arrests were made for trespassing in the South Branch gorge off the MUA. The New York State Environmental Conservation Police and the New York State Forest Ranger Division have clearly marked the boundary of the MUA with signs and are continuing to arrest trespassers on posted private property in the South Branch gorge. Depositions have been filed by TNC, NSSWNY, and other private landowners within the gorge, and those arrested are being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. TNC, NSSWNY, and private landowners feel strongly that the current educational and law enforcement effort they are undertaking is the best way to help preserve and protect this unique, fragile, and--sadly--terribly abused area.

I'm also attaching some recent photographs to give just a rough idea of the scale of the abuse, although you've probably seen worse. The dead tree is one killed in an area of old growth timber during a forest fire on Mother's Day 2006. The fire was set by a drunken trespasser's runaway campfire on the plateau at the Big Falls, and it burned all the way up the gorge wall to Deer Lick. The flames girdled many trees, and they are dead or dying. The cut tree is a hemlock that was cut down with an axe by trespassers, probably because it held a posted sign. Please feel free to post any and all of these photos as you see fit; I would ask only that you include a photo credit line (Photo by Steve McCabe, Copyright 2008) so that they are not reproduced elsewhere without my permission.

Also, do you think it would be worthwhile to post the NYSDEC map that I linked in my copy above? You've got the Deer Lick map posted, so maybe the actual MUA map would be equally helpful.

I appreciate your consideration of this request, John, and remain hopeful you'll see fit to help. I know we agree the resource is well worth the effort.

Best regards--

Stephen J. McCabe, Preserve Custodian
Sweetland Preserve, NSSWNY

(Photo by Steve McCabe, Copyright 2008)


(Photo by Steve McCabe, Copyright 2008)


(Photo by Steve McCabe, Copyright 2008)


(Photo by Steve McCabe, Copyright 2008)


(Photo by Steve McCabe, Copyright 2008)


Please carry litter out!
Yours, and litter others left behind!

Here is a link to my "Yahoo Groups" website called: Zoar Valley NY


Deer Lick Sanctuary

Deer Lick Map


Here are some helpful links to find out just how much water is flowing in the creek. You might want to check it out before hiking (in the stream), kayaking, canoing or anything that might involve crossing the stream.

From the 1893 History of Cattaraugus County :

The Dutton Headstone   The road into Otto via Little's mills was cut through the breakers by Ahaz Allen in 1830. Prior to that time there was a path from Darby flats (now Valentine's Flats) after fording the south branch up the breakers, where pedestrians in the early settlement found their way into East Otto and Ashford. In the fall of 1826 Thomas Dutton, a resident of Lodi, passing this way with the view of going to Ashford, was drowned. The next spring his remains were found among the flood wood at the head of a small island some 100 rods below. The coroner, Ahaz Allen, held an inquest on the body, but the remains were so badly decomposed that it was impossible to determine whether he came to his death by violence or by accidental drowning. When he left Lodi he had $400 on his person and a silver watch, and as neither money nor watch were found with him it was the prevailing opinion that he met his death by the hand of some unknown assassin.  He was buried on the upper end of the flats near the south branch where a rude stone slab marks the spot where his ashes repose, and where picnickers from the village resort every year and hold high carnival.
images/Duttonframe.jpg     outdoors/zoarv4.jpg
First photo by Chris Pearson   Click to enlarge

Here is a Geocache that is hidden at "Knife Edge Ridge":
Knife Edge Ridge Geocache
And other Geocache's in the Zoar Valley area:
The Four Giants
Holcomb Pond Cache
A Dead Give Away
A Rare Find

Zoar Valley Waterfalls - Gowanda, NY

Click pic's for larger version


There are many waterfalls in the area, some are called "cascades" that rain down from the cliffs that reach heights of 500 feet! NOTE: some waterfalls mentioned, and pictured here are on PRIVATE PROPERTY. Please do not trespass!

Waterman Falls after flood 2004

Here is a captioned slide show:




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All text and photos on this page © John V Stoneman


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