By Joe Wright, Marketing & Development Director, Ellicottville-Great Valley Trail
Recently, I made the 40-minute drive to Olean from Ellicottville to check out the Allegheny River Valley Trail, a project originally spearheaded by Olean businessman Joe Higgins.
The story of the Allegheny River Valley Trail is well documented in the Ellicottville-Great Valley (EVGV) Trail’s Master Plan, which Higgins helped write with the trail committee, and is frequently referenced in trail committee meetings, so I figured it only made sense to see first-hand what it had to offer and the role it plays within the Town and Village of Allegany, the City of Olean and on the St. Bonaventure campus.
Wanting to pick up a portion of the trail that skirts the Allegheny River, I pulled a well-detailed map off the Town of Allegany website and decided to pick up the trail in Gargoyle Park located at the trail’s southern tip.
On foot and moving at my usual accelerated walking pace, I headed northwest along the river onto the St. Bonaventure campus. I found the scenery fantastic. The trail is entirely paved and mostly shaded, which was a nice perk on an 80-degree day. The Gargoyle Park area of the trail does witness some noise from traffic on the other side of the river along West River Road, but as you enter the SBU campus, the trail becomes more tranquil and stocked with beautiful vegetation.
Between Gargoyle Park and the SBU campus, I encountered two bikers and another three or four walkers. As I made my way onto the SBU campus, the scene was very quiet, which can be expected on a Friday afternoon in late June. Then I looped back to my car parked at Gargoyle Park. If I had to wager how long my total trek was, I’d have to guess somewhere around three-plus miles (I suppose a Fit Bit® would make for a nice Father’s Day gift).
After leaving Gargoyle Park and needing to wet my whistle, I stopped in to Applebee’s Restaurant at the end of Gargoyle Road at West State Street. There I chatted up Kris the bartender, a late 20-something local millennial who actually fabricated his own custom mountain bike and regularly rides the Allegheny River Valley Trail.
“I love the trail!” he said enthusiastically. “I usually ride 2-3 times a week, make two loops at a time and hammer out about 12 miles. You just have to make sure to keep your mouth shut when you’re along the river, because you’ll swallow a ton of bugs if you don’t.”
As someone who would rather ride his bike than drive, Kris mentioned he hopes to see future expansion of the trail into Olean to access more convenience locations, while also providing a safe transportation mechanism for bicyclists and walkers, especially from the St. Bonaventure campus, while also alleviating some traffic.
Acting as a true ambassador for the Olean/Allegany region, Kris suggested I check out Four Mile Brewing while in town. I told him next time and I’ll make sure to bring a bike with me to check out all six miles of the trail.
All this made me think about the impact a trail 2.5 times the length of the Allegheny River Valley Trail in our destination location, which is already filled with outdoor and retail activity, would have on Ellicottville and Great Valley.
For more information about the trail and how you can help make it a reality for the Ellicottville and Great Valley communities, call Wright at (716) 984-5673 or email him at joeEVLtrail@gmail.com.