Friday, June 1, 2012

Three Days in Allegany State Park


Well, camping together really teaches you stuff. Mostly that the one of us that was organized all the time is definitely gone (we're okay with that), but it's like learning all over again; and we're stubborn and difficult, apparently.

Camping. We know we've done it YEARS and YEARS ago in Washington State, a bunch of times, with a boyfriend; then a few years ago in Ontario, Canada with another, for weeks at a time...and now,'s like camping for the very first time.

First of all, did you know New York State has mountains? And did you know the Allegany State Park is IN the mountains...and did you know at night it gets cold, freezing cold, in the mountains? Did you you know two regular sized Mexican blankets will NOT keep two adults warm through a cold, damp, night, or two in the mountains...

Yeah, it wasn't very restful those first two nights. Luckily we were tight lipped with the bitching and complaining, as was James. Taking a trip into a nearby city, finally, the day of our final night, we got two sleeping bags to throw on our air mattress and slept way better last night.

So, the park. The park is amazing, so many lush trees, and animals, lakes and streams.

The first day we decided to go for a hike, which was supposed to be about 6 miles roundtrip. We were wrong, and at one point tried to be adventurous, going in search of a trail and headed off into the trees next to a stream. We figured the trail would pass the stream because the trail ran parallel to the bridge/road the the stream went under, where we had been standing.

Over an hour later we emerged, our legs scratched all to hell from off-trail adventure, feet damp from removing shoes and socks and crossing streams of jagged rocks, only to come out on the road FIVE MINUTES from where we had entered the forest. We basically did a huge loop, and never did find the trail we were looking for, only a site they used for making firewood, full with a wood chipper and old picnic tables.

It was pretty fun, despite "misplacing the trail", walking through streams, being an adventurer, even though we are sure James was worried, but to be fair, he knew we had very basic idea of how we were going to find the trail, but Allegenay State Park is rife with bears and other wild animals they don't have in England, not to mention it's 65,000 acres (97 square miles). It's the 3rd largest State Park in the United States.

We stayed cheery and optimistic, laughing and yelling "Yay! Problem solving!" and "Team building exercises!", as James rolled his eyes at us. It turned out to be the best part of the hike that turned out to be 11 miles, lasting 6.5 hours.

The second best of the hike was The Bear Cave-Mt Seneca Trail, 4 miles in itself, the start is uphill (depending on which entrance you take) and climbs to an elevation of 2,106 ft - but only about 600 feet from the starting point, so it's not so bad, but it is rated 'moderate' in difficulty. At the end are giant boulders jutting from the earth, you can see the layers of history in them, and they are covered in moss, forming all sorts of neat paths and caves.
Bear Cave Trail Boulders - Allegany State Park, 2012
Bear Cave Trail Boulders - Allegany State Park, 2012
Bear Caves Trail, Allegany State Park, 2012
Once we got back to the campsite, with blistered and tired feet, we decided we wouldn't be doing any more hiking while at Allegany Park, and went to a park spot nearby that had barbeque pits to make dinner of steak, mushrooms, zucchini and corn on the cob. (it had gotten to late to build a fire at our campsite)

Allegany Park itself was great, we arrived the weekend before the season opened so the general stores weren't open, which also meant it was very quiet, and free of people and cars. The initial camp spot we reserved, at Cain Hollow Campground (in the Quaker Area), was in Loop C, but the ground of the sites in both Loop C and B proved to be too hard to get tent pegs in, so after some driving around we settled on the more open field like terrain of Loop A. It was excellent, and private. Though the shower and bathroom facilities lacked..., compared to the facilities about 4 miles away, which we used the last two nights, because showering with dead bugs and birds, night was enough. (bird poop all over!)

Our campsite at Cain Hollow - Quaker Area - Loop A

All in all if you like to camp, tent style, and hike/bike lots, this is the park for you (though they have plenty, loads actually, of sites for RV style, as well as many cabins); if you like nature and animals this is the place for you - we saw woodchucks, foxes, deer more than once, and lightening bugs, slugs.

For James it was the first time he'd seen a woodchuck and lightening bugs, he took pictures and video of both. We had hoped for bears, but from a distance and not near our campsite, sadly there were none to be seen, though lots of warnings. We figured in our tenting spot, far away from people, we were a nylon bagged treat for local bears.

It should also be noted that cellular service, including wireless signals, were limited in much of the park.

Our first camping experience with James is complete, of course there was some bickering, but once we got into the flow of it it was peaceful and fun. We've decided to do more camping on the trip than planned (mostly to save money), however, we will be doing more KOA-style because we want to do less outdoors and more just having a place to rest our head as we venture into nearby cities.

Today we took an impromptu trip to Niagara Falls, less than 68 miles north of Allegany State Park. It was raining so our departure got delayed a bit as we waited for it to ease up so we could pack up the tent. James enjoyed Niagara, and we were happy to have seen it from the American side, having seen it once from the Canadian side. Being behind from stopping to buy New York State apples on the 'winery trail' we only made it as far as Syracuse, New York - where we got the cheapest hotel we could find for the night. Tomorrow we head to Boston. We're looking forward to fresh seafood (not James, he dislikes seafood), and doing some exploration of the East Coast. It will be our first real trip to the coast, and our first view of the Atlantic Ocean.

For more information:
Allegany State Park:
Allegany State Park - Quaker Area:
Allegany State Park - Red House Area:
Allegany State Park Map:
Allegany State Park Reservations on Reserve America:

[This entry is being copied to Our Frank Adventures, where there will be more photos]

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