by Susan Braun

Have you heard about the Buffalo Hiking Group? This is a fairly new group founded by Chuck Saia and Chris Henning. It includes people who live in the Western New York area who like outdoor sports such as hiking, backpacking, trekking, snowshoeing, and camping. Membership is free and all are welcome. The group, which hosted one “Historic Waterfront Hike” on each day of the Powder Keg Festival, February 27th and 28th, attracted about 70 participants on Saturday and another 30 or so on Sunday. We joined in the fun on Sunday when the sun was shining brilliantly and the temperature was a balmy 37°!! We met on the corner of Erie Street and Marine Drive, across the street from Erie Basin Marina and headed out on a 3+ mile hike that lasted about 3 hours and included stops at many historical sites such as the Commercial Slip, the DL & W Terminal, the Swannie House, the Edward Cotter Fireboat and Father Conway Park (formerly the Ohio Basin). At each stop, Chris and Chuck provided interesting facts about the history of each of the places. For many, the highlight of the hike was gaining access to the RiverWright (Lake & Rail) Grain Elevator along the Buffalo River. When we arrived at the elevator, we were met by Rick Smith who provided some background on the history of the elevator and allowed the hikers to enter the elevator for a quick look around. Great fun was had by all!!

According to Chuck, “We’re always excited to extol whatever we can about Buffalo and the surrounding area. We’re hoping to have another Urban Historical Hike over the summer. We also plan to become involved with the Old First Ward’s ‘River Fest’ on June 19th, hopefully providing a little hike of history around the area and guided tours of the grain elevators.”

The next scheduled hike is April 17th at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. They’ll be going on two different nature hikes led by Nature Guides. Chuck indicated that the group usually tries to do something once a month. So far it’s proven to be a great way to make new friends and get the word out about all the wonderful places to see and things to do in and around Buffalo! You can check out their events on Facebook (search for Buffalo Hiking Group), or on the web at

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by Doug Sitler

buckhornisland1Buffalo & Erie County offers a bevy of recreation walking and hiking opportunities. This past weekend I brought a few friends to the tranquil trails and wildlife of Buckhorn Island State Park on the northern tip of Grand Island. The trailhead is located an easy 20-minute drive from downtown Buffalo and is only four miles from the world famous Niagara Falls.

Buckhorn Island State Park is a 895 acre nature preserve filled with wildlife, marshes, meadows and woods along the Niagara River. The main hiking trail stretches two miles one way from the parking lot on East River Road to a thin peninsula that situates walkers in the middle of the Niagara River. An old road lies underneath the trail, providing a flat and smooth walking surface for outdoor lovers of all ages and physical abilities. The path is also a popular destination for bicyclist looking for a mellow off-road ride.

During our walk we witness a variety of waterfowl, including numerous species of ducks. On previous visits to Buckhorn Island State Park, I’ve had upclose encounters with herds of deer. One of my favorite locations on the trek is where the trail wanders underneath the northern Grand Island bridges, which present some interesting visual perspectives.

For those who venture all the way to the end of the trail, an incredible and inspiring view awaits. The trail jets out onto a narrow peninsula offering beautiful panoramas of both the Canadian and United States shoreline, as well as unobstructed views of the mist from Niagara Falls which is situated 3.5 miles downriver.

You should set aside about two hours for the four-mile walk. Besides getting in a good walk, you’ll want to take time to stop and soak up the scenery. Click here to learn more about Buckhorn Island State Park.

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