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Peak Leaf Season in the Enchanted Mountains

By Alicia Dziak

This weekend marks the peak of the season as the leaves on the trees boats brilliant shades of gold, crimson, copper and more before they fall to the ground. Grab your camera and plan to take in some fresh air as you enjoy the sights and sounds that make autumn in Western New York so memorable.

Don’t know where to begin? How about right here in Ellicottville with a view from above? Enjoy the last weekend of chairlift rides at Holiday Valley. Ride the Spruce Lake chair to the top, enjoy the view and either ride the chair down or hike around the lake then take the 1.25 mile Orange Trail back to the base. Rides are offered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 15. Tickets are $7, children age 2 and under are free.

If you want to be actually touching the leaves, make your plans for Sky High, where you can climb through the trees, fly down the mountain or zipline your way through the color in the Climbing Forest, Mountain Coaster and Aerial Park, open through Oct. 30. For more info, visit www.holidayvalley.com.

Enjoy a hidden gem and take time out to explore Nannen Arboretum, in the heart of the village, which offers paved and stone paths for leisurely strolls.

Nearby Griffis Sculpture Park displays fall’s hues and more than 250 gigantic artistic sculptures on hillsides, in fields and in the forest. Surround yourself by nature and art at the largest park of its kind in the country.

Allegany State Park provides guests with more than 65,000 acres of leaf peeping paradise along lakes, hiking/biking trails and at special vantage points like the Stone Tower with great views.

Rock City Park wows visitors with a spectacular panoramic view high above the treetops, providing a gorgeous view of the rolling hills and valley housing the city of Olean below.

Little Rock City Park is perfect for climbing the natural outcrop of huge conglomerate rocks nestled in the forest.

Feeling adventurous? Head to Zoar Valley or Letchworth State Park and whitewater raft through the gorges for a spectacular view from below.

An afternoon road trip along the Amish Trail provides a different kind of escape to a more peaceful part of the county down back roads, over hills, past Amish farmsteads and fields to view colorful scenery and glimpse into a simpler way of life.

Whether by foot or by car, you’ll surely enjoy the natural beauty of the season. But don’t wait—peak season is short and there’s so much to see!

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