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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Zoar Valley Multiple Use and Unique Area
Description: Encompassing nearly 3,000 acres, the Zoar Valley Multiple Use and Unique Area is one of the most scenic and ecologically diverse natural areas in western New York State. A favorite spot among local hikers, Zoar Valley is known for its deep gorge, with 100- to 500-foot cliffs, waterfalls and dense forests. Some trees here are the tallest of their species in the state. One 128-foot-tall basswood is the tallest basswood in the world. The area also includes a 54-acre grassland, 13 acres of wetlands, Cattaraugus Creek and smaller streams, and two ponds. Wildlife observers have recorded more than 60 bird, 30 mammal and several amphibian and reptile species here.

Wildlife to Watch: Visitors have reported an increasing number of bald eagle sightings at Zoar Valley in recent years, but the most commonly seen raptors are red-tailed hawks. Several other raptor species you may see include turkey vultures, broadwinged and red-shouldered hawks, and northern harriers. In the grasslands, watch American kestrels hunt for mice. Rhythmic tapping in the forest alerts you to red-bellied and downy woodpeckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Several warblers, vireos, thrushes, sparrows and grassland birds, including the eastern bluebird, sing their songs from leafy branches or brush thickets. Haughty wild turkeys strut around both wooded and open areas. The marshes harbor several swallow species, belted kingfishers, wood ducks and hooded mergansers.

Mammals encountered at dawn or dusk include white-tailed deer, raccoons, coyotes and foxes. Red and eastern gray squirrels, eastern chipmunks and woodchucks round out the most commonly seen mammals, though black bears and several other mammal species are known to live in the valley.

Amphibians, including red-spotted newts, spotted salamanders and several frog species, can be found in Zoar’s ponds and wetlands. Reptiles also abound, including northern water snakes, black rat snakes, smooth green snakes and midland painted turtles, among many others.

Special Tips: The park is open sunrise to sunset, year-round. Be aware that the trails into the gorge are steep, and be sure to allow enough daylight hours to hike in and out safely.

This site has a universal access deck overlooking the South Branch of Cattaraugus Creek at the Forty Road parking area.

716-372-0645, www.dec.ny.gov/lands/36931.html

Other Activities: Several trails on both the north and south sides of Zoar Valley are available for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The area known as Valentine Flats is particularly popular for picnicking as well.

Ownership: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 
Size: 2,939 acres 
Closest Town: Gowanda

ParkingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesHuntingSmall Boats

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Coyote - Photo by Gerry Lemmo
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
From Gowanda

To the Valentine Flats parking area: Take US Rte. 62/Rte. 39/East Main St. Turn left onto South Water St./Rte. 4. Follow this for 0.5 mile. Turn right onto Broadway Rd./Rte. 4. Follow this for 0.9 mile, and then turn left onto Point Peter Rd., and follow this for 0.9 mile. Turn left onto Valentine Flats Rd., which will dead end at the parking area.

To the Forty Road parking area: Follow the directions past Valentine Flats Rd. Continue on Point Peter Rd. to a triangle intersection and veer left on Forty Rd.; continue to the dead end at the parking area. To the Holcomb Pond parking area: Take Rte. 62/Main St. north from downtown Gowanda, and turn right onto Perry St./Co. Rte. 74 for 2.6 miles; turn right onto Unger Rd. At the first stop sign, turn left onto Vail Rd., and follow this until you see a brown DEC sign at the small parking area.

Map Link

Zoar Valley Multiple Use and Unique Area : Wildlife Viewing Area