Hella hidden hikes

Five nearby hikes worth checking out in the fall

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Fall is underway and while it’s been surprisingly warm, we can’t expect the good luck to last in Buffalo. 

 Although the Buffalo area doesn’t have tall, impressive mountain ranges, there are still a number of interesting hikes in the area to enjoy while the weather permits. From rock cities and outdoor art exhibits to natural fireplaces under waterfalls, the area has many unique places to explore. 

They just aren’t easy to find. 

Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of five day-hikes worth checking out. 

Little Rock City Loop Trail

Rock City State Forest, Salamanca, NY 14779

Little Rock City stands out because of its unique terrain. 

Giant rock formations dominate the area and overshadow the hiking trail. The hike gets its name because its large, dense boulders resemble buildings in a city.

The maze-like trail never gets too far from the parking lot, so hikers can go as far as they like without worrying about the trek back to the car. 

Hikers can find the trail inside of Rock City State Forest in Salamanca. The drive from North Campus takes just under an hour and a half

Griffis Sculpture Park

6902 Mill Valley Rd., East Otto, NY 14729

 Griffis Sculpture Park is for the artsy. 

 The 450-acre park exhibits approximately 250 sculptures and was originally home to the work of the late sculptor Larry Griffis, Jr. The area now showcases sculptures by other artists as well. 

 The inclined trail leads up a hill and reaches a lake, as artwork decorates the forests and fields along the way. 

There is a fee to hike –– student and senior admission costs $3 and adult admission costs $5 but children under 12 can enter for free. 

Griffis Sculpture Park is about an hour drive from North Campus

Zoar Valley Valentine Flats Trail

10112 Valentine Flats Rd, Gowanda, NY 14070

 If there was a trail on this list to save for the summer, it’s this one. 

The Valentine Flats Trail leads through a forest into a deep gorge. In the gorge, the trail reaches the merging point of the south and main branches of the Cattaraugus Creek. 

The remains of an old, crashed car rest along the steep trail leading down the gorge.

The hike doesn’t take more than an hour each way. Still, hikers may want to spend more time exploring the bottom of the gorge. 

 The trail is located within the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area. The drive from North Campus takes a little over an hour.

Eternal Flame Falls

Eternal Flame Hiking Trail, Orchard Park, NY 14127

Vindhya Burugupalli | The Spectrum

Anthony Vargas talks about his experience as the LASA (Latin American Student Association) President.


 Eternal Flame Falls is “fire.” 

 A small cave in the waterfall’s base emits natural gas and hikers sometimes light the gas to create a small fire. 

The trail leads through a forest, down a small gorge. At the bottom, hikers can follow a stream until they reach the waterfall.

It is a 45-minute hike to the falls from the trailhead and the trail is located in the Shale Creek Reserve, a section within Chestnut Ridge Park. 

The trail is located at Eternal Flame Hiking Trail, Orchard Park. The drive from North Campus takes roughly 30 minutes. 

Tifft Nature Preserve

1200 Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo, NY 14203

ALEXANDER BROWN | The Spectrum

Tifft Nature Preserve rests alongside Lake Erie. 


The trails available at Tifft Nature Preserve offer the most urban hiking on the list. 

Hikers will notice old industrial infrastructure still standing in the distance, as it rests on the edge of Lake Erie in South Buffalo, only separated from the water by Highway 5. 

Tifft’s proximity to the highway and its industrial views remind hikers of their urban roots, offering a unique opportunity to explore a space where society and nature merge.

 The drive to Tifft from North Campus takes roughly 25 minutes

Julian Roberts-Grmela is an assistant features editor and can be reached at julian.grmela@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @GrmelaJulian.