By Alicia Dziak
The air is cool, the ground has already been dusted with snow, and Allegany State Park’s (ASP) dedicated staff and patrons are preparing for an array of late fall and winter park activities.
For starters, anxious hunters headed to the park for the start of shotgun season last weekend, eager to take advantage of ASP’s thousands of wooded acres. There are very strict hunting regulations that must be followed, available at http://nysparks.com/parks/attachments/AlleganyQuakerArea2013HuntingPermitGuidelines.pdf.
While visitors spend their time enjoying the great outdoors, ASP crews work hard to make sure the park will be in tiptop shape for next peak season.
“Preparing for the winter operation is a pretty normal process for anyone who prepares for the change in the weather,” said Gary Quattrone, ASP park manager. “For any of the wash houses or other locations that are closed for the season, our crews will winterize the buildings to protect the plumbing, etc. All vehicles go through a pre-winter check and are winterized; salt and sand are ordered as well as any other ‘winter season materials.’ We also prepare our trail groomers to ensure they are ready for when we receive snow amounts that allow for grooming of the snowmobile and cross-country ski trails.”
Cross-country skiing is a popular activity that brings many outdoor enthusiasts to the park every winter. For trail conditions, visit www.alleganynordic.com.
Snowshoeing is also a great way to burn some energy and enjoy scenic ASP. Visitors can explore many hiking trails this way, although snowshoeing on groomed trails is prohibited.
For those wishing for a little more speed, snowmobiling can’t be beat, and ASP offers miles of trails to navigate.
“The snowmobile trail system opens after the close of big game season,” explained Quattrone. “Generally the park requires a minimum of three inches of snow and that all other safety, registration and insurance requirements that apply to the NYS Trail systems [are in place].”
ASP 1, the shortest route that runs between the Red House and Quaker sides of the park, is part of this snowmobile trail system, and is therefore closed in the winter months.
“The closure typically goes into place around the first day of winter and will be in place until early or mid-April, depending on snow conditions,” Quattrone said. To travel between the two areas, ASP 3 (which runs by the Bradford, Pa., park entrance) remains open, or else visitors can leave the park via I-86 and re-enter from the next interstate exit.
Those who want to squeeze in more camping time can still build campfires outside their cabins. Campers can bring their own firewood, as long as it’s from within a 50-mile radius of the park, or small bundles can be purchased at the gift shop. For more information on the firewood regulation, visit the Department of Environmental Conservation website at http://www.dec.ny.gov.
Many ASP cabins are winterized, and although cold weather camping is much different than warm-weather camping, there’s something special about being under the winter sky late at night at ASP. Take advantage of this winter wonderland and spend a weekend enjoying the snow, crisp air and all ASP has to offer!