Escape the Urban: Return to Zoar Valley

2 Oct

The rain and color have both arrived, hand in hand, sweet autumn sisters that somehow both soothe and tempt. The trees are flushing into the heart of their fall brilliance. The rain is re-swelling creeks and streams. Yesterday I river guided in Letchworth, back in rafts again as the dry summer passes and the Genny fills with runoff, rapids reforming in chutes and rock bars where only bare longing existed two weeks before.

The Catt is filling again in Zoar as well. Commercial rafting has long since ended for the year, but if you have your own whitewater kayak now is the time to grab some late season action while you can. If not, there are still trails enough to enjoy, as the chill-induced leaf change comes to some of the oldest and tallest trees in New York State. Julie Broyles, who runs, has told me many times that the Zoar is special because it is a place you keep wanting to go back to. Those who enjoy it at the peak fullness of summer have a way of finding themselves returning for autumn color and winter’s icy fastness.

May I recommend the following articles to help you plan your own Zoar visit. The first I wrote for WNYMedia this summer, and describes the many trails and sights at The Nature Conservancy’s Deer Lick Preserve.

The second is my article for the September issue of Buffalo Spree, recently available on their website. Besides covering the trails in the New York State Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area, it details the serendipitous history of this odd pocket of WNY, and includes an interview with Mr. Herb Darling Jr, the most remarkable Western New Yorker you’ve never heard off.

Mr. Darling’s father donated the land that we know as Zoar Valley today. Following in his father’s philanthropic footsteps, the son is the past President of the Buffalo Science Museum and current President of the NY Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation. Hidden in Zoar is a plantation of experimental chestnut trees where Mr. Darling is leading the effort to save the species. Learn more in my interview, and enjoy your fall retreat to Zoar.

One Response to “Escape the Urban: Return to Zoar Valley”

  1. RaChaCha October 2, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Nice! Your Spree article says you’ve never hugged a tree — but I bet if you got near the old sycamore on Franklin Street behind St. Louis’, you would.

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