Enjoy ASP in Late Fall and Winter

By Alicia Dziak

While it may be time to put away the tents and RVs for the season, park lovers need not fret. Die-hard Allegany State Park fans can rejoice in the fact that many ASP cabins are open year-round, and even if you just have a day to spend, there’s still plenty to do at the park.

If you hit the park before the snow flies, bring your bike and enjoy the paved bike path that leads around Red House Lake. The path runs just over three miles around the lake and includes several offshoots that let riders explore two more miles. A favorite section for my family leads through the woods between Camp Allegany and the covered bridge. The paved trail also leads to the bottom of the waterfall cascading off the lake, and by the old ski jump, and you can read all about it when you cross over the water.

Many hunters take advantage of ASP’s wilderness in November and early December. For rules and regulations, visit www.dec.ny.gov.

Winter brings a whole new crowd to the park, and what better place than ASP to enjoy the season’s outdoor activities?

Snowmobilers can pack up their sleds and enjoy 90 miles of trails meandering through the scenic woods and open fields.

If it’s adventure you’re after, a trek over the trails on snow shoes or cross country skis is a must. The Art Roscoe Ski Touring Area, which is easily accessed near the Summit Trail on the Red House side of the park, boasts some of the finest groomed cross country skiing and mountain bike trails in the Northeast. (Note snow shoes are not allowed on groomed trails.) The Summit Mountain Shop rents cross country skis and snowshoes, and the retail shop offers a selection of ski waxes, tuning equipment and souvenirs. After you work off some energy, you can refuel at the snack bar, where soups, chili and tasty beverages are served.

Hiking in snow boots is also a great way to burn some calories and enjoy the crisp winter air. Many of the hiking trails with trailheads beginning and ending in the main drags of the park are still easily accessible in winter; if not, plan on some hard work getting back to your starting point.

An important thing to remember is to plan ahead for your hike. Last year, two of my friends, who shall remain nameless, headed out onto the 6.5 mile Beehunter Trail in the afternoon, ended up veering off the trail, and were lost in the park for hours, until well after darkness had fallen. It’s a good idea to give yourself extra time for hikes since snow slows most people down, and be prepared with snacks and flashlights. Also remember there is limited cell phone reception in the park, so don’t count on that as your backup, and pay close attention to trail markers, as hiking and snowmobiling trails often intersect.

If you want to bring the kids, or just act like a kid, bring a sled and find a hill. There are many to choose from if you’re willing to look. My family likes the long, gradual one near the Beehunter Recreation Area, where it feels like you’re heading downhill for five solid minutes.

Get down to ASP and check out all the winter fun it has to offer! To see what cabins are available for your winter adventure, and for more information, visit www.reserveamerica.com. For ski conditions, visit www.alleganynordic.org.