Road Trip: This Summer, Go Off the Beaten Path  
Explore Allegany State Park, the “Wilderness Playground” of WNY

Tucked into southern Cattaraugus County, along the New York-Pennsylvania border, lies a sprawling wilderness gem, ideal for trail riders. Allegany State Park has 55 miles of trails set aside for equestrian use. They meander about the park’s 65,000 acres, traversing old-growth forest, passing woodland ponds and streams, and crossing by a unique natural treasure known as Thunder Rocks.

            The horse trails are “on a series of interconnecting loop trails that utilize gravel park roads, abandoned town roads and abandoned railroad rights-of-way,” according to the website, which is part of Cattauraugus Tourism and includes photos, maps and other useful information. “You will ride

on hillsides, rolling and level trails

(and there is) good footing for horses

throughout woodland settings.”

            The park is divided into two

developed areas, Red House and

Quaker Run. The Red House area is

where you’ll find the historic Tudor-style

administration building and natural

history museum; Red House Lake,

with its sandy beach, good fishing and

five miles of paved bike paths; and

Stone Tower, offering forested vistas.

Quaker Run is known for its lakes and hiking trails and restored Quaker store that serves as a museum about the park’s history as the “Wilderness Playground” of Western New York. 

 Download a printable copy of the horse trails map or pick one up at the park offices.

            Accommodations:  The Red House area of the park offers a primitive, non-electric site to camp with horses that does include a portable toilet. There are spots for self-contained trailers and three sets of four horse stalls. Water is available for horses and campers.  Reservations may be made for the campsites by calling 716-354-9121; stalls are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The charge for camping is $22 a night on Friday and Saturday and $18 a night, Sunday-Thursday. There is a $5 fee for out-of-state campers.  The Quaker Area of Allegany offers two primitive cabins on Stoney Trail where horses are permitted to be kept near the cabins. 

            Just coming for the day? Parking areas are available in the front section of the horse camp and at a lot near the Bradford, PA entrance to the park on ASP Route 2.

            Season:  Mid-May through October for horse trails and camping. The park is open year-round.

            Required papers:  Current Coggins and rabies vaccinations are required. Out-of-state horse owners will be required to produce a valid 30-day health certificate.

             Natural attractions: The park is known for its primitive, forested valleys and un-glaciated landscape. While you’re out and about, keep an eye open for bald eagles, bluebirds, osprey and great blue herons. White-tailed deer abound, but you may also catch a glimpse of some wilder inhabitants: Black bears, fishers, coyotes and bobcats all call Allegany home. The park has naturalists on staff to offer assistance and answer questions.

            Don’t miss this:  Thunder Rocks is a unique geologic formation – climb it if you dare. The rocks were formed about 360 million years ago from sediment left when New York was covered by a shallow sea. Frost wedging and gravity nudged the giant boulders into their current position. Glaciers had nothing to do with it. The park is part of a very small area of the state untouched by glaciers. 






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Featured Story
Try Camping with Your Horse
We're here to help you get ready 

By New York Horse Staff

             Camping with horses, says Toni Wolf, is a lot like camping with a toddler: “They try to get into trouble, they don’t help out, and you have to bring them food and water.”

                But camping can be a great way

to spend time with your horse. What’s'

needed, says Wolf, is a little planning to

make the trip an enjoyable experience

rather than a game of catch-me-if-you-can

in the deep woods.

                Before spending any time or

money, start by making an honest

assessment of what your horse is capable of

handling. Ask yourself:

Will my horse stand quietly while tied?
Will my horse load and unload easily?
Will my horse eat and drink well away

from home?

                “If the answer is yes to all three,

you’re ready to go camping,” says Wolf,

a long-distance and competitive trail

rider from Gasport who has been camping

with horses for nearly a decade at parks across New York, including Otter Creek, Carlton Hill and Allegany. “The next question is, ‘What do I do with my horse?’ “

                Let’s start with the one thing not to do: make any changes in their feeding routine. Wolf says she feeds her horses the same

as at home, explaining

“just because they’re being

ridden for an hour extra a

day, doesn’t mean they need

an extra 5 pounds of grain

a day.” Her tip: Pack single

servings of grain in plastic

zip-lock bags.

                Next, just as there

are options for people to

camp – from tents and

sleeping bags to luxurious

motor homes – there are

multiple choices for horses.

It all depends, says Wolf, on how much money you want to spend, how much effort you want to put into it and how often you plan to camp. Options include a portable electric corral, portable fence panels, trailer-mount high line, picket line, and tying directly to the trailer. Many people who camp regularly use more than one method, depending on where they’re camping and how long they’re staying.

                Each option has its pros and cons, she says:

                A portable electric corral is lightweight, needs little storage space and is easy to change size, but it requires a battery or solar charger, takes longer to set up, and is difficult to put in place on rocky ground. Wolf said she typically sets up her pen to measure 15’ by 15’ which she described at WNY Equifest as “enough room to get around, but not enough for your horse to get into trouble.” And speaking of trouble, she cautions there should be only one horse per corral, “even if your horse and his buddy have lived together for years.”

                Portable fence panels are sturdy, good for horses that don’t respect electric and quicker to set up, but the cons are that they heavy, more expensive and need lots of storage space. Again, remember: Only one horse per corral.

                A trailer-mounted high line is

easy to set up and requires no storage space

but it also limits your location and restricts

the horse’s movement. Wolf says to make

certain the trailer does not have any sharp

metal edges, and suggests installing bucket

hangers and hay hooks to the side of your

trailer for ease of feed and watering.

                A picket line needs little storage

space and allows multiple horses to be

kept together, but it also limits location

because the line requires a sturdy anchor

like a tree or post and some places won’t

allow horses to be tied to trees. Wolf says

she always recommends use of a breakaway

halter and making sure there is enough line to allow plenty of space between horses.

                Tying to the trailer is inexpensive, very easy to set up and requires no storage space, but only allows for very limited horse movement. For a direct tie to work, Wolf says, “it’s imperative that your horse will stand quietly for long periods of time. And you will need to exercise them every couple of hours when you are not riding.” When choosing a location, also remember that if the ground is soft, your horse will quickly turn it into a mud hole.

                Whatever option you pick, practice at home a few times before going out for the first time. “Set up ‘camp’ inside your regular paddock and let them try it out overnight. If you’re using a tent be sure to set that up, too, so the horse gets accustomed to what it looks like and sounds like,” Wolf suggests. Practice at night, in case you have to move for any reason.

                No one wants to think about the bad things that could happen, but a Plan B is crucial to have in place before an emergency happens.  “What are you willing to do if your horse suffers a life-threatening injury?” Wolf asked. “If something happens to the driver, can someone else take over? If severe weather is headed your way, where will you shelter? If your rig breaks down, can someone come to help?” Pack a head-mounted flashlight to leave your hands free, and get your horse accustomed to seeing the beam at night.

                “If you’ve never approached your horse at night with a flashlight, you may be in for a surprise,” she notes. “You must be able to load your horse in the dark.”

                If there’s one overriding lesson to take away, it’s this: Camping is a skill your horse needs to learn before you go off for the first time. Bottom line, says Wolf, “Plan to have a good time.”

Remember to bring these items

There are plenty of what-to-pack lists on the internet. Here are some items from Toni Wolf specifically for camping with your horse:

  • First Aid kit, with a thermometer and stethoscope
  • Single servings of grain in plastic zipper-lock bags
  • Waterproof rain sheet and warm blanket
  • Spare headstall, reins, girth, pad, halter and lead
  • Head-mounted flashlight and spare batteries
  • Paper maps (you may not have cell service)
  • Phone numbers and locations of nearby vets                                                                             
  • Grooming tools
  • Copies of health papers, including Coggins and                                                                      rabies
  • Medications
  • Fly spray/mask
  • Mounting step
  • Easyboot, or similar, in case you lose a shoe.
  • Wearable horse identification tags, i.e. Velcro                                                                                 bands that go around the feet or tags that braid into the mane or tail.


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