Shorter Than Planned

Reading Time: 18 minutes I planned out a 22.5 mile hike and started my long drive in the darkness of early morning. At 6:40 am I pulled my car to the side of South Canada Hill Road and started my hike a few minutes later. The trail climbed up to the top of the hill and then descended down the other side. A swarm of deer flies attacked me as I neared Fancy Track Road and I had to swat and move fast to keep from getting bitten. I crossed an old railroad track and stopped to take photos of the track as it faded into the distance.

Another climb took me up up past a memorial trail register and then down across a series of boardwalks, down a staircase, and across a footbridge over a small stream. The trail continued on up to the top of the hill and presented me with an incredible panorama as I waded up through the field of tall grass. The trail descended to Brennen Road where I snacked on some wild strawberries.

I continued on up a hollow to Irish Hill Road then descended down through a logging skid to Cotter Road. The trail leaving Cotter Road was difficult to follow with blazes not clearly visible. I climbed up a steep slope after crossing a small stream. The trail continued on around a hill and then descended to parallel US 219. The path was rocky, muddy, and slippery and I struggled my way along until I finally came to the US 219 crossing.

Once across the busy road I made my way down to the stream crossing through shoulder-high weeds. At the bottom of the descent I came to an impassable crossing. The stream had flooded and there was no way to continue on. Disappointed I turned back before reaching my planned goal.

I made my way back up, crossed over US 219, and then along the difficult path. I trudged up Cotter Road and paused for a break in a staging area for a logging operation. After a break I started another climb up Irish Hill. I continued on and once again stopped at Brennan Road for a few wild strawberries. Another break on a tractor path leading to the field at the top of the hill.

Two dogs coming down the trail gave me a fright and they retreated in front of me as I made my way up to the field. I crossed the small stream, climbed the staircase, and crossed the boardwalks. Soon I was back on Fancy Track Road and turning off on the last leg to S. Canada Hill Road.

Just after leaving Fancy Track Road I encountered another hiker who had gotten turned around. She was going the same direction I was so we walked together. Three times we lost our way and had to backtrack. Finally we came to the field above South Canada Hill Road and made our way down.

Up The Downhill

Reading Time: 18 minutes I started my hike at the next road crossing west of US 219 where I had been turned back previously. After hiking to the top of a ridge above US 219 I was once again force to turn back; this time due to briars and an eroded path down the steep slope. After returning to my starting point I continued on west on the trail, passing through a future housing development and on up over a hill.

I descended down to Maples Road and made my way across a yard next to a barn. At the back of the yard I was unable to find a blaze and had to navigate using my digital map. Once back on the trail I climbed up another hill and around the side; blazes infrequent. The trail finally brought me down to NY 242 in Ellicottville.

I crossed NY 242 and continued my way into Holimont Ski Area. The trail took my up the ski slopes at an angle and then across the top past three ski lifts. After leaving the lifts behind I passed three ponds. A man and his dog, Reggie, were fishing at one, and a small beach full of families ended the third.

I continued on out to McCarthy Hill Road and then started back. At the beach area I stopped to rest in one of a pair of lean-tos. My track took me back along the top of the dike by one of the ponds and then back past the lifts and down the slope. I climbed up the hill and around and then back down to the yard on Maples Road.

One last steep climb greeted me on the other side of Maples Road. I slogged my way up the hill, pausing for a rest at a memorial bench before proceeding on. Finally I was descending back down through the future housing development and back to my car.

The Last Overnight (Day 1)

Reading Time: 14 minutes Day one of an overnight hike began early with a long drive. After parking off McCarthy Hill Road I made my way down past the old CCC Camp Seneca. The trail took me back up a climb through an area devastated by a tornado in 2010. Once I had finished the climb the trail wound through the woods and large boulders began to appear. My boot caught on a root and the toe pulled back causing the sole to flop loosely.

A short time later I came to the awesome spectacle of Little Rock City and forgot all about my broken boot. Massive boulders soared high above me as roots grew down moss the moss covered sides. I wound my way through the giant rocks and left them behind too soon. Along the way I stopped at a brand new lean-to before continuing on. My path took me past the Elkdale Golf club and onto the Pat McGee Rail Trail where I crossed an old railroad bridge.

After a very long walk on the rail trail I turned off and climbed up through a rough and rugged section to finally arrive at 4th Street. A steep descent down the road took me to the next trailhead and I climbed up through tall weeds and grass. I passed a non-existent tent site and finally descended to the Bucktooth State Forest Lean-to — my “home” for the night.

The Last Overnight (Day 2)

Reading Time: 12 minutes I woke in the middle of the night on day two of an overnight hike to the sound of wind hissing through the trees, soon followed by light rain. After falling back to sleep I woke again in the morning to gray skies and damp air. I climbed back up over the hill and down to West Branch Bucktooth Hollow Road. After turning right on the road I arrived at 4th Street and a long climb up to the next trailhead.

After completing the climb I counted my remaining water knowing I needed to ration. I made my way down a rough and rugged section of trail as fog drifted through the tree to arrive at the Pat McGee Rail Trail. Although flat and straight the rail trail was torturous. Sweating and hot I paused at an old railroad bridge for a break before continuing on.

The trail took me past the Elkdale Golf Club and up a road with fresh stone. I felt every stone under my feet as if it were a hot coal. After leaving the road I climbed up an old logging skid and finally up to the brand new lean-to near Little Rock City. I continued on through the massive boulders, too tired to take more pictures. Once past the area I descended down through the tornado ravaged area and out onto Hungry Hollow Road.

After a break to drench myself with water from a stream running next to the road I started the last leg of the trail back to my car. Moments later thunder rumbled and rain began to pour. I completed the last 1.5 miles in a soaking rain. As I drove off the storm became fierce; rain came down in buckets and lightning flashed. My drive home took me in and out of tremendous storms.