By Alicia Dziak
Budding trees and flowers, buzzing bees, warmer temps and plenty of sunshine. Spring is in full swing, and it’s time to get out and enjoy all the activities in Ellicottville and beyond!
Want to get your adrenaline rush on? The wait for adventure is over, as Sky High Aerial Park opens for the season May 6. Navigate 13 courses of varying difficulty, as you move from one platform to the next on hanging bridges, rope ladders and ziplines.
You can also scale the trees at the Climbing Forest, which is like a 3D version of a rock wall.
Sky High will be open May 6-June 12, Fridays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations are recommended; call 716-699-HIGH.
The Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster, located by Holiday Valley’s Tannenbaum Lodge, re-opens May 20. Ride a car up the mountain and fly down at your own controlled speed.
Whitewater rafting season is now! Head to Zoar Valley and take a guided trip down the Cattaraugus Creek. You’ll get gorgeous views of the gorge, and chances are you’ll spot some wildlife you don’t see every day.
On May 7, it’s time to get happy! The all-new Happy Half and 5K are two fun races that begin and end at Holiday Valley. Brave participants can also sign up for the Beer Mile by drinking a beer, running a quarter mile and repeating three more times. The Southern Tier after-party in the Main Lodge is sure to be a great place to recap all the fun! Info at www.happyhalfrun.com.
Also on May 7, trail runners can take part in the Allegany Adventure Run, an annual run that takes competitors through the woods of Allegany State Park’s Art Roscoe trails. Runners choose between 6K, 13K and 26K distances, beginning and ending at the Red House Summit Area. More info at www.heartrateup.com.
Hike and Bike
Holiday Valley’s 4-5 mile “race loop” for mountain bikers starts at the Holiday Valley Training Center and goes up gradually to the top of Cindy’s, heading across the ridge line of the resort where you can choose to ride the wider and more forgiving cross country trails or skinny winding singletrack to the top of Eagle, Cochran Pond at the top of Morning Star, and into the Tannenbaum area. A new trail is being constructed from Spruce Lake through the woods to Champagne. Mountain bike rentals are available at the Inn at Holiday Valley. $15 for 3 hours or $25 for 6 hours. Call (716) 699-2345.
Allegany State Park also offers miles of hiking and biking trails, including the paved bike path that surrounds Red House Lake. Bike rentals are available at the Red House Boathouse, located near the beach.
If it’s a leisurely stroll you’re after, check out the Nannen Arboretum right here in Ellicottville. Celebrate Arbor Day all month long by discovering beautiful trees and plants along a winding path.
You can also head to Ashford’s Griffis Scuplture Park and see hundreds of unique sculptures dotting miles of wooded paths. The park is broken down into two sections—each boasting giant, interactive pieces of art.
Golf anyone? There’s no shortage of amazing golf in the region. Holiday Valley opened the back nine last week, so golfers can enjoy the entire 18-hole, par 70 “Double Black Diamond” course, with breathtaking scenery from every hole. The back nine winds its way through the base of the mountains and provides spectacular views.
For a change of pace, head to Salamanca’s Elkdale Country Club, a semi-private golf club open for public play seven days a week, or Randolph’s Cardinal Hills Golf Course, a beautiful 18-hole, par 72 course.
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer, and also the unofficial start to the camping season. Pack up your tent or camper and head to one of the hundreds of campsites in the region. Campers can choose from places like the 65,000 sprawling acres of Allegany State Park, Onoville Marina, Randolph’s Pope Haven Campgrounds and many more. If cabin camping is more up your alley, find cabins and full service cottages at Allegany State Park, Franklinville’s the Woods at Bear Creek, Elkdale RV Resort or Aim High Outdoor Adventures, to name a few. Gather ‘round the campfire and enjoy quality time with friends and family!
Shop and Dine
Now’s the time to update your wardrobe! Head into summer with some new threads and accessories from the area’s cool boutiques and sporting goods stores, or nail that vintage look by browsing the numerous antique stores along the way. Be sure to stop and grab a bite at one of Ellicottville’s fine eateries. Many, like Balloons in the Village and John Harvard’s at Holiday Valley, boast outdoor spaces to get your vitamin D while you dine.
May means non-stop, active fun in Ellicottville. With so much to do, there’s no excuse to sit inside!