If you think of Ellicottville activities through the prism of power rankings, the top spot is an easy choice. Holiday Valley and HoliMont remain the tractor beams for bringing in visitors, both repeat and new. You might argue that No. 2 would be a toss-up between dining/nightlife and shopping - each one complements the other well. After that, however, it’s a complete dogfight for activity spots.
Underrated and oft-overlooked, snowshoeing is a hidden gem around our area. Advancements in tech and more accessible terrain have made this activity you hated in high school gym class a whole lot better. Ellicottville’s own The City Garage and Adventure Bound onthefly carry brands like Atlas and MSR, which are constantly pushing the envelope on innovation.
Imagine this: sliding your foot on a pair of Atlas Stratus snowshoes then locking them down with a twist-to-tighten Boa Wheel (The City Garage, $249.99) and heading out first thing in the morning, when there’s still a couple stars visible. It’s cold out and the snow is deep, so you won’t want to forget to wear your Crocodile Gaiters from Outdoor Research (Adventure Bound, $78.99). When the terrain starts to get tricky, you’ll need some collapsable poles from Atlas (CG, $39.99) but it will all be worth it watching that gorgeous WNY sunrise sipping on your still-hot morning coffee, courtesy of a Wide Vacuum thermos from Kleen Kanteen (AB, $28.99).
You can imagine that scenario, or you could go out at night pretending to evade White Walkers (Game of Thrones is the best show on TV. This is not debatable.) Regardless of the company you keep or how wild your imagination runs, the benefits of snowshoeing (fresh air, exercise) should be enough reason to get out and get after it.
The foothills we call home make accessibility incredibly easy, all the while giving you a pretty diverse range of terrain. If you’ve ever hiked in the summertime, you know how beautiful it is. Holiday Valley’s cross-country ski trails are open to snowshoers (but they ask that you please remain to the side, to not disrupt the tracks). Buy a two-ride ticket and take Mardi Gras or Tannenbaum lifts to the top to access the ridge at the top of the hill. A personal favorite of mine is to start at Tannenbaum, head over to Spruce Lake, backtrack and follow the trail all the way to the top of Cindy’s. Exercise!
Access unbelievable spots at Allegany State Park by hitting The Bear Paw Snowshoe Trail, which runs 2.3 miles around the Summit Area and Stone Tower. Another local favorite is the Pfeiffer Nature Center (in Portville, NY).
And on Saturday, Feb. 4, Adventure Bound invites you to join them at Groove Fitness for a snowshoe tour around the pond (on Route 219), into the woods, and back behind Groove for hot chocolate, a fire and good times. They’re taking sign-ups now, so swing into 16 Washington and get yourself on that list!
The City Garage, Adventure Bound onthefly, Holiday Valley and the Pfeiffer Nature Center all rent snowshoes if you’re in need but are not looking to purchase anything. Rates and hours can be found on respective websites/social media channels - but the official SNOWED-IN recommendation is that you go to these places in-person and check them out.
February and March look to be all-time in terms of snowfall, so get yourself out there and try something new! For more information on snowshoe retail or rental, head into The City Garage or Adventure Bound onthefly.