Things To Do In The Chautauqua Gorge State Forest

Hiking, camping and picnicking are just a few of the outdoor activities to be enjoyed in the Chautauqua Gorge State Forest. The scenic 538-acre state forest is open to the public year-round.
For hikers, the main attraction is the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail which begins within the state forest and winds its way over 24 miles of public and private land in Chautauqua County. One mile of the trail borders the Chautauqua River.

Depending on the season, trail visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Hunting, trapping, and fishing is also permitted. All game laws must be followed along with obtaining the correct permits.

The Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail is also ideal for wildlife watching. In addition to many varieties of songbird, trail hikers may also encounter deer, raccoons, turkey and even some foxes and bears. For more information on the varieties of plants and animals one may find in the Chautauqua Gorge State Forest, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation offers a free “Critter Guide” and information on fishing in the area. During the winter months, access to the trail is limited to the Summerdale Road entrance.

There are eight camping sites in the state forest which are available on a first come, first served basis. Backcountry camping is also permitted. Camp sites aren’t allowed within 150 feet of trails, roads, and bodies of water. Groups of ten or more and stays beyond three nights require a permit.

In the state forest’s day use area, picnickers are provided with pavilions, tables, and fire rings. One portable bathroom is available during the summer so it’s best to plan accordingly.

The day use area also includes a ¼-mile hiking trail. Offering views of the gorge when foliage is sparse during the autumn, the trail is suitable for hiking and biking in the warmer months and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Recent improvements to the day use area have made the picnic facilities and the trail more accessible to handicapped visitors.

The Chautauqua Gorge State Forest is located in southwestern New York State in the town of Mayville, approximately a ninety-minute drive from Buffalo. It’s a great attraction to visit for outdoors lovers visiting the Chautauqua Institute or staying at a nearby Chautauqua hotel.

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