Leaf-watching — searching for and gazing at trees decorated in vibrant autumnal reds, oranges, and yellows — is an annual pastime for locals and nature-loving tourists who visit the Empire State. Viewing fall colors can happen while traversing parks and roads, or visiting nearby locations for a number of ways to enjoy fall colors on foot, by bike, by train and more .
Tip: Check out the Fall Foliage Report from the I Love NY website (iloveny.com), which is an interactive map of the Empire State by region. Leah Mueller, tourism sales manager for Visit Buffalo Niagara, submitted weekly reports on the state of Western New York’s fall colors for the site. By the end of September, most of the Western New York area is experiencing a 10% to 15% change with yellow, orange and red colors beginning to appear.
People also read…
In October, the Holiday Valley ski lift in Ellicottville takes nature watchers to the top of the hills during Fall Foliage weekends (every Saturday and Sunday) and two Fall Festival weekends (8 -9, 15-16 October). Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. On fall foliage weekends, the Spruce Lake Quad Lift zooms the peepers to the summit where hiking and mountain biking (BYO or rental) are options. The cost is $12 per person; children 6 and under are free. Lift tickets for Fall Adornment events are sold online (holidayvalley.com) and at the resort; packages for mountain bike rental and ski lift passes are available.
Nearby Angelica, Cuba, Wellsville and Alfred are four places where you can experience Vermont in the fall with foliage-rich roads and quaint little towns.
Buffalo Cattaraugus and Jamestown Scenic Railroad (4 Scott St., Hamburg). Buffalo Cattaraugus & Jamestown Scenic Railway, a Hamburg-based nonprofit organization that shares its love of passenger trains with the public, offers themed hour-long excursions on a 1920s train. the foliage take passengers on a round trip to admire the fall colors in the Eden Valley. Trains depart at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. on October 8, 9, 15, and 16. Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for children. tickets can be purchased online (bcjrailroad.com) or at the depot. There are options for Caboose seats (same price as regular tickets) and Snack Car tables for groups of up to four people. Arrive at least 30 minutes early.
Medina Railway Museum (530 West Ave., Medina). Two-hour rides aboard a vintage train depart from the museum on October 15, 16, 20, 22, and 23. There are several times a day, but some are already sold out, so check for available tickets online. Coach seats are $28 for adults, $26 for seniors, $24 for ages 1-17; a limited number of first class seats are available. Tickets include free entry to the museum.
Attica Arcade and Railway(297 Main Street, Arcade). Arcade & Attica Railroad, based in Wyoming County, is also part of a museum and a train station. The fall rides take riders through farmland and countryside scenery with a stop at Curriers Depot where you can take a self-guided tour, purchase concessions, and participate in kids’ activities. The rides last approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes and are offered at 11 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from October 1 to 23 and also at 1 p.m. on October 5, 12 and 18. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $19. for children aged 2 to 12: purchase online or at the station.
New York and Lake Erie Railroad (50 commercial street, Gowanda)
New York & Lake Erie Railroad departs from Gowanda for two-hour train journeys through the beautiful foliage-rich countryside of Cattaraugus County. Tours head south from Dayton with a stopover to enjoy fall refreshments before heading back. Book tickets for these October rides online (nylerailroad.com) or in person. Tickets are $19 for adults, $17 for seniors and $15 for children. Departures are at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday from October 8 to October.
A visit to Knox Farm State Park has over 600 acres of easy hiking trails. This beautiful East Aurora site will, if timed right, have fall colors along the well-marked trails. The park entrance is on Buffalo Road and biking is permitted in some parts of the park. Its website (www.parks.ny.gov/parks/163) offers a downloadable trail map. A visit to Allegany State Park (www.parks.ny.gov/parks/1) in Salamanca, about an hour from Buffalo, has the added benefit of a beautiful drive through Cattaraugus County. The park is also part of the Enchanted Mountains tourism initiative (enchantedmountains.com) which offers a map of trails to visit to see the splashes of fall color.