By Alicia Dziak

It’s that time of year when outdoor adventures await at every turn, and what better place to experience the great outdoors than at New York’s largest state park, Allegany State Park (ASP)!

Looking to burn some calories while enjoying the scenery? ASP offers numerous hiking trails for all abilities. Pick up a trail map at the park and start exploring. Whether you like short and sweet (Bridal Falls, Red House side) or hilly and challenging (Bear Caves, Quaker side), there’s varying terrain and trail lengths to satisfy everyone.

In the mood for a family-friendly bike ride? Navigate the paved loop that surrounds Red House Lake. Head over the covered bridge and up through the woods to check out the new Bova cottages by Camp Allegany, or ride over another wooden bridge and check out the creek below the dam.

If your ideal exercise is more competitive in nature, check out the Allegany Adventure Run on May 2. The race challenges runners to compete in a 6K, a 13K or a 22K trail run, traversing the Art Roscoe trails on the Red House side of the park. For more information, visit www.heartrateup.com.

Also on May 2 is the fourth annual I Love My Park Day, a statewide effort to give back to state parks. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers gather and work on projects throughout the park. Various volunteer projects will be available to choose from, including digging out and mulching administration building flower beds, Group Camp 12 interior cabin painting, cabin trail clean up, and beautification of the trails by picking up litter. All ages are welcome. Meet at the Red House Administration Building, and bring gardening gloves, water and a snack. Registration is required by visiting www.ptny.org/ilovemypark.

Want to give back but can’t get to the park that day? Consider meeting up with Friends of Allegany State Park, a group of volunteers that meets once a month throughout the spring and summer to work on various projects. For more information, visit www.friendsofallegany.com or like them on Facebook.

For those who can’t get enough nature education, you’re in luck!

The 57th annual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage will be held on May 29-31 at Camp Allegany on the Red House side of the park. The weekend, a combined effort between ASP and Jamestown Audubon Society, Buffalo Audubon Society, Presque Isle Audubon Society and Burroughs Audubon Nature Club, is chock full of nature-based activities. Guests can pick and choose from numerous field trips, guided walks and classes, covering a wide range of topics such as the geology of ASP, birding, animal signs, building fairy houses and much more. Registration is required. More information can be found at www.alleganynaturepilgrimage.com.

Know a girl in grades 6-12 that would enjoy hands-on nature activities at the park? Sign them up for Outdoor Girls’ Day on June 6. The day will include banding songbirds, learning how to draw them and looking for creek creatures and things that can be eaten in the woods. Programs will be presented by women in the natural sciences fields. The program is free, but registration is required by May 29. Call (716) 354-9101 ext. 236 or email adele.wellman@parks.ny.gov.

Of course, you don’t need an excuse to visit ASP. If you’re just looking to relax by a campfire, kick back by the lake and take in the natural surroundings or spend unplugged quality time with family, there’s no better place to go! With hundreds of campsites, cabins and full-service cottages to choose from, spending a spring weekend at the park is the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors. To reserve your weekend getaway at the park, visit www.reserveamerica.com.