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
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.
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
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: