By Alicia Dziak
‘Tis the season to get out and enjoy the great outdoors! If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy summer in the Enchanted Mountains, boating and biking activities could be just the thing.
There aren’t many activities as synonymous with warm weather as getting out on the water. While swimming is a great way to cool off, getting out in or on a watercraft can add variety to your daily water intake.
Looking for a new kind of adventure? Try stand up paddleboarding! Stand up paddleboards (SUPs) are just what the name implies: surfboard-looking watercrafts that are designed for the rider to—you guessed it—stand up on, while using a paddle to get around. While the popularity seems to have soared recently, they’ve actually been around for quite some time.
“We’ve been carrying SUPs for about seven years,” said Sean Lowes, owner of City Garage.
City Garage at 5 Monroe St. in Ellicottville offers the Bic brand of SUPs. “Bic has been making paddleboards since the 1970s,” Lowes explained.
In addition to traditional, hard-surfaced SUPs, City Garage also carries inflatable ones, which, according to manager Trey Clauss, “are easier to transport, and include a carrying bag and pump.”
Adventure Bound On the Fly, located at 16 Washington St. carries several brands of SUPs and kayaks, including Hala Gear, Pau Hana, Wilderness Systems, Dagger, Perception, Ocean Kayaks, Patagonia, Orvis, Osprey and their own brand, SUPonthefly.
“The brands we carry are market leaders who design and build great products and back those products with fair warranties and great customer support,” noted Adventure Bound owner John Rounds, owner of Adventure Bound On the Fly.
Clauss said that learning this sport is “not hard on the right type of water,” noting that “right” equates to “calm.” He said that SUPs come with an instructional video, but that the learning curve is very much a matter of trial and error.
Adventure Bound in EVL offers introductory paddling classes for SUP and kayak, which are often included in their river tours (www.facebook.com/AdventureBoundonthefly/events), as well as custom/private instruction by appointment.
And just where do you go to get some SUP action? “We prefer Lake Erie, such as Evangola State Park or Hamburg Beach,” Lowes said, adding that the best times to go are “early morning or evening with low wind.”
Rounds favors other local waterways, listing “Cattaraugus Creek (25 minutes from Ellicottville with beautiful gorge walls, waterfalls, hawks and eagles, the Allegheny River (30 minutes from Ellicottville, featuring scenic, flat-water stretches with an abundance of wildlife and dedicated put ins and take outs) and Kinzua Reservoir with wonderful coves to explore and very little light pollution so it’s an amazing place to see stars).”
Of course, you don’t have to commit to purchasing a watercraft to enjoy it. Kayak and SUP rentals are available at Adventure Bound. They also offer demos at its demo/paddlecasting center (located behind EVL’s Tim Horton’s) weekly and by appointment throughout the week. “Providing the opportunity for people to paddle different boats as they are determining what boat or SUP is best for their needs is the only way to go when purchasing,” Rounds explained.
You can also head to Allegany State Park (ASP), where you can rent SUPs and kayaks, along with row boats, paddle boats and canoes at the Red House Boathouse, located adjacent to Red House beach.
If staying on shore is more up your alley, how about a bike ride instead?
The Red House Boathouse at ASP also offers cruiser bike rentals. Take the paved bike path around the lake and enjoy unmatched views of the park.
You can also rent a cruiser at the all-new Ellicottville Bike Rentals (EBR), located at the Boardroom, right near Holiday Valley, or head to Bike N Bean, at 30 Washington Street, where you can pick up a local trail map to make sure you hit all the best spots.
Spencer Timkey, co-owner of EBR, said they rent, “the Electra Townie cruiser, which we have in men’s, women’s and children’s sizing, has 7 speeds and is super easy to ride. Each one has a bell, some have baskets, and the colorways are awesome. Electra uses something called ‘Flat Foot Technology’ — meaning your feet stay flat on the ground when you’re sitting on the seat, eliminating the need to bend over the handlebars. Just perfect for cruising around town or up to Holiday Valley. We’ve also got the Marlin 7 hardtail mountain bike from Trek — it comes in two sizes, has big, burly 29 inch wheels with 21 speeds, and performs really well up on the trails.
If backcountry biking appeals to you, ASP also maintains miles of mountain biking trails. Or head back to EVL and navigate the trails at Holiday Valley, the neighboring state land or in and around the picturesque town and village.
“There are so many good places to bike around town,” noted Timkey. “On the cruisers, anything worth getting to around town doesn’t require a ton of effort (either flat or very moderate hills), so we send a lot of people into the Village, up to HV, or to the Library/Park/Arboretum. As for mountain biking trails, the amount of miles in well maintained trails at HV and on State Land is awesome. The new Flow Trail at HV is super fun, as are a lot of the others (once you get acclimated to them and where you want to go).”
There’s no better time of year to get out on the water or onto the trails on a two-wheeler. Enjoy the lush landscaping and tree canopies, and get in a great workout in the process.