fallcolorBy Alicia Dziak

With autumn leaves almost at their peak, now is the perfect time to check out Allegany State Park (ASP). With 18 trails and countless areas to explore, awe-inspiring views are abundant.

If you enter the park through Salamanca, heading straight into the park instead of getting on I-86, you’ll be greeted with a steep climb leading you to an overlook on the right. From here, you can see for miles over the highway and beyond.

Continuing on toward the Red House area, you’ll arrive at signs for the Stone Tower. You can take the driveway-like road from a couple different points, the first leading off on the right, by the Summit Trail and cross-country ski area. The Stone Tower is shorter than I imagined it being, but once you go inside, climb to the top level and look around, you’ll feel like you’re several stories above the ground. The view is spectacular in all directions, and with the hills ablaze with color, it’s likely you’ll feel like you’re in a painting.

Heading down into Red House, the paved bike path leading around the lake has always been a favorite for a relaxing stroll. If you follow the path to the opposite side of the Administration Building, you’ll end up slightly above the lake, with commanding views of the Administration Building and the beach, as well as the hills surrounding the lake.

Heading down ASP 2, you will arrive at signs for the old Group Camp 10 on your right. While the camp is no longer accessible by car, you can park on the road and walk up the driveway. Once at the top, walk behind the restrooms to your right and enjoy views of the rolling hills in the group camp (previously home to cabins that were recently torn down) as well as the hill across the street.

ASP 2 turns into ASP 3 around the Bradford entrance, and leads to the Quaker side of the park. As you enter Quaker, Science Lake is on your left. There is ample parking along the road. Walk out on the bridge on the right of the lake to get a glimpse of the reflective lake on one side and the manmade waterfall below on the other.

Continuing down ASP 3, take a right on ASP 1 by the Quaker General Store. Past the Tornado site, the road will take a sharp turn to the left. Right after you make the turn, you’ll notice a meadow with tall trees. There is a bench in the center of the meadow, facing away from the road. This is my favorite view in the park. The ground in front of you dips down so low that it seems bottomless, and the hill on the other side is so naturally lit by sunlight that it appears to be out of a fairy tale.

Heading back to ASP 3 and into the heart of Quaker, you won’t want to miss the view of Quaker Lake from the back of the lake, near where the road splits off and heads into Cain Hollow. Park your car on the side of the road, and take the short walk to where the lake appears to merge with a wide stream, to take in sweeping views of the lake and hills beyond.

Other scenic views are marked on the park map, available at the Red House and Quaker rental offices.

Pack up a camera, and head to ASP during this most beautiful time of year. Wherever you end up in the park, you’re sure to be wowed by the blazing hues dotting the landscape.

For fall foliage reports, visit www.facebook.com/alleganystatepark.