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I grew up riding my bike to a wooden bridge on 18 Mile Creek not far from my house. I loved standing on the bridge and peering over into the water below. If I stood there long enough, and quiet enough, large fish would gracefully circle below me. This is why I was excited to see that a park on 18 Mile Creek was one of my next stops for our Feature Friday Blog series.
18 Mile Creek Park is another Erie County Park, located just south of the Village of Hamburg. Once you get to Lakeview Rd., which is accessible by Rt. 62 in Hamburg, Rt. 20, or Rt. 5, you turn onto Smith Rd. towards the creek (a left turn if you are coming from the Village of Hamburg, a right turn if you are coming from the Lake View area). Smith Rd. mergers into Old Lakeview Rd., and leads you to South Creek Rd., which will be the first street on your right. South Creek Rd. almost immediately splits into two roads, so stay to your right on the street that is labeled a dead end. The park is at the very end of the road, and there is a large stone parking area with wooden signs detailing the park rules.
From the parking area, there is an initial path into the 464-acre park that leads you along the ravine’s edge. The beginning of the path is partially paved, and about a quarter of a mile in, there will be stone pillars that might have once belonged to the front of a house. As you continue down this initial path, you will see that it starts to open up into an abandoned farm field. There is a large, beautiful lilac bush right before the field. The lilac bush stands next to a path “spur” that will lead you down to the creek. This is a DEC public fishing access site.
The day I went to go and hike this park, fishing was not on my to-do list. I wanted to see as many spectacular views of the gorge as I could. The paths wind along the 60 foot cliff that borders 18 Mile Creek. About a mile into the trails, I came across a spectacular waterfall. My pictures, and the lack of rain we had at the time of my hike, do not do it justice. This looks like a waterfall out of the tropical island getaway commercials that they play on TV! It is very serene, with jet black shale rocks slowly being covered in bright green moss. I cannot wait to visit it when the falls are in full force.
If you continue along the trails, it will take you to a pine forest that has a .75 mile trail loop. You then take the same trail you walked in on to get back to the parking area. Over all, it is about a 5 mile roundtrip hike. The trail has multiple “spurs,” some of which lead you down to the creek and others that lead you deeper into the woods. The trail also splits and meets back together a couple of times as well. It’s an easy hike with not too many hills. Be careful, because there are a lot of tree roots sticking up in the path, and you are very close to a 60 foot drop!
Check out the rest of our pictures on Facebook, or better yet go and see the great gorge views of 18 Mile Creek Park yourself.
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Recently, I took my Dad to Franklin Gulf Park on a recommendation from a GrowWNY team member. The two of us instantly fell in love with the peaceful serenity that could be found in this undeveloped and unsung park. We both appreciate taking a step off the beaten path, so to speak. Conservation parks, or undeveloped parks, are simply just county land. They have barely been altered from their natural state, with minimal trail clearing and marking. We have since started looking for more county conservation parks to explore.
My father kept mentioning the Boston County Forest. He had passed the entrance on Rice Road, in Boston, NY many times, but never stopped. On a sunny Sunday morning, we decided it was a perfect time to explore the park. Due to the recent rain, the trails were pretty muddy and the creek crossings were very high—so if you are planning a visit here and it has been raining a lot, make sure to wear appropriate footwear.
We took a trail that led deep into the forest and away from the sounds of traffic that can be heard from Rice Road. Once we were in the heart of the forest, our trail turned into a fork. We chose to go left, and it led us out to a wide field. We quickly realized this is an entry point for snowmobiles. A couple feet from the trail that leads you into the field is another trail that leads you back into the forest. This trail then leads you along the creek, which creates multiple little waterfalls and different points.
The whole circuit is one big loop, totaling about 3 miles. The trails aren’t marked as well as Franklin Gulf Park, so make sure you are being extra observant in order to catch the white dot that lets you know that you are on the right track. However, most of the paths are groomed for snowmobiles to come through, so even if you miss the markings, you can tell where the path is by the occasional snow mobile sign, or by how clean cut it is. Make sure to check out the maps before you go as well: http://www.practicaloutdoors.com/?p=221
Do you have any other county conservation parks to suggest for us?
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In case the name didn’t give it away, Akron Falls Park is home of two very beautiful waterfalls—one that is natural, and the other man-made. I read about the falls on a variety of websites, like Erie.gov/parks, and NYfalls.com, before heading to Akron. As I was driving to the park, all I could think about were the falls and the legend behind the waterway that fed them, Murder Creek. When I got there however, I was blown away before I even got to the water.
Akron Falls Park is full of playgrounds, ball fields and shelters. As I drove through the park, I could just envision what a popular place this must be in the summertime. The pavilions create a central gathering space for an experience that will blend both natural recreation, and man-made recreation. Almost every shelter was positioned just a short walk away from Murder Creek, allowing families to go and explore the upper and lower falls together. Then it would be back to the shelter, where the adults could cook lunch while the children play on the nearby playgrounds. It is definitely a location to consider when planning your next outdoor birthday party or family barbeque.
When I went to Akron Falls Park, there was still some snow on the ground that was obstructing the paths to the falls. This meant that, unfortunately, I was unable to safely make my way to the falls. Although I was upset about not seeing the falls in person, I found a serene and peaceful escape tucked away in the middle of the park. The Rock Garden was absolutely delightful, and after wandering around this enclosure I was perfectly satisfied with the park despite the fact that I didn’t hike to the falls. The stones in this garden were ornately arranged to create circular pathways around a small pond.
I can’t wait for some nicer weather, so I can head back to Akron Falls Park and take full advantage of it. I’m glad I got the chance to pass through the park ahead of time, because now I know to pack a cooler, rather than just some granola bars and water. A hike along Murder Creek and a barbeque in the park are definitely on my to-do list this summer.
What parks are on your summer to-do list?
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I grew up in the Southtowns, so I know my way around them pretty well. That is why I was so surprised when I was told about a great hiking location that I had never heard of. Right on the border of North Collins and Eden lies an undeveloped park called Franklin Gulf Park. This county conservation park is a hidden gem that makes for a great, peaceful hike through a seemingly undisrupted environment.
Since my own father grew up around Boston and Eden and didn’t know about this park, I knew I had to take him along with me. After making our way through the little town of Eden on Route 62, we turned left onto Sandrock Rd. After a couple of bends in the road, we took another left on to Larkin Rd. As we drove down this street, we noticed the woods to the right of us were peppered with yellow signs that declared them county property. Further down the road, right by the green sign that marks the North Collins border, there was a small gravel pull off on the right. This was the parking lot, and where the trails begin.
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Over the past couple of weeks, it seems as though Mother Nature has had a tough time deciding what she wants to do. More than once I have found myself with plans to go snowshoeing on the weekend only to wake up to soggy green landscapes, rather than the pristine, white blanket that I needed. Well, I’ve recently visited one of our Go Outside Map locations that will have something for you to do, snow or shine! Beaver Island State Park has a sledding hill, tons of trails, lots of birds, and much more.
When you head to Beaver Island, make sure to pack a little of everything, and check out the State Park Map to plan your route once your inside. I was lucky enough to visit while there was still some fresh snow on the ground. My friends and I took advantage of the weather and enjoyed the sledding hill. There was a parking area right behind the sledding hill, so we didn’t have to drag our sled far. It was an easy climb up the hill through two rows of trees.