New York’s Enchanting Trails

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Credit: Missy Whittington Here, trail riders enjoy riding on Boutwell Hill State Forest land in the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System, which includes the development of 35 miles of equestrian-accessible trails using public and private lands.

Credit: Missy Whittington Here, trail riders enjoy riding on Boutwell Hill State Forest land in the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System, which includes the development of 35 miles of equestrian-accessible trails using public and private lands.

You’ll find special places to ride in New York’s southwestern corner, where the state meets Pennsylvania, Ohio, the northern reaches of the Appalachian Mountains, and the waters of Lake Erie. 

This nexus of land and water in the diverse Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties is in the heart of substantial horse country with a myriad of trail-riding opportunities.

Cattaraugus County Trails Cattaraugus County (or Catt County, as it’s known locally) is located on the northern edge of the Appalachian’s Allegheny Mountains, also known as the “enchanted mountains” for their charming effects. 

Catt County has four trail riding systems totaling more than 95 miles of trail, some interconnecting and all within a 30-minute drive of each other. 

This trail-riding mecca has been nurtured and developed over time by local horse enthusiasts. The community invests in its equine businesses, recreation, and tourism with the support and guidance
of the Equine Advisory Committee of Cattaraugus County. 

The EAC’s efforts are enhanced by the work of the Catt/Chau Chapter of the New York State Horse Council, and members of the Little Valley Riders Club. 

Please help perpetuate a great trail experience and continued access for all horsemen through courtesy, stewardship, and awareness of local trail rules. 

Allegheny State Park. The anchor of the riding trails in Cattaraugus County is in Allegheny State Park, a seasonal facility just south of Salamanca. The park has more than 55 miles of interconnecting loop trails, which offer a wide variety of terrain with good footing and a multitude of beautiful, marked trails. Trails meander through forested lands, along the ridge tops, down into the valleys, and across the streambeds. The park offers a horse campground in the Red House section. Its Quaker Area has a few cabins with horse setups, as well as day-use trailer parking near a trailhead in the park’s southwestern portion. 

Credit: Leah Leising Riders in New York’s Allegany State Park at the Lonkto Meadow parking area.

Credit: Leah Leising Riders in New York’s Allegany State Park at the Lonkto Meadow parking area.

Pat McGee Trail. The Pat McGee Trail is the backbone through the county and provides a link to a local trail system. The trailhead is located in the northeastern part of the City of Salamanca. This 12.2 mile, multiuse, natural-surface trail runs through the town of Little Valley and ends at the northern trailhead, which lies south of the Village of Cattaraugus. The northern end of the Pat McGee Trail is more wooded, with interesting natural features, while the southern end traverses more open farm land. The trail is viewed as a valuable asset for carriage driving, training new trail horses, and acclimating novice trail riders. Its well-drained surface makes for sustainable footing in most any weather. 

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Little Valley Trail System. The Little Valley Trail System in the Elkdale State Forest is known for its breathtaking views, abundant wildlife, and streams. Trails meander through peaceful stands of pines and lush ferns up to your horse’s belly. The system offers one-, two-, and three-hour loops. 

Parking for your rig and the horse campgrounds are located at the Little Valley Horse Park, owned and cared for by the Little Valley Riders, a family-friendly group that started in 1952. 

Pine Hill/South Valley Forest. This is a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation property to the northwest of Allegheny State Park with 26 miles of marked trails. Its wooded trails are ranked from easy to difficult. Old two-track logging roads are ideal for carriage driving. Some trail terrain is made up of exposed rock, so horseshoes are recommended. The NYS-DEC Pineapple Junction Horse Camp is available free of charge.

Chautauqua County Trails

Neighboring Chautauqua County trail riders are working to realize a grand plan that will confirm their region as a trailriding destination. 

Credit: Missy Whittington Riders on the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System entering a clearing. Numerous truck trails in the system provide sustainable footing for rainy-season riding.

Credit: Missy Whittington Riders on the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System entering a clearing. Numerous truck trails in the system provide sustainable footing for rainy-season riding.

Much of Chautauqua County’s horsetrail work has emanated from the Lou Eibl Corral riding and social club, and the Catt/Chau Chapter of the New York State Horse Council. 

Launched in 1949, the Lou Eibl Corral has a long history in the area. It now promotes a diverse array of horse-related activities, while building a strong organization and involving multiple generations of families. 

In its early years, the Lou Eibl Corral had a piece of property that served as a gathering place and trailhead. Then new land owners, often from far away and unfamiliar with horses, withdrew permission to ride the trails.

Credit: Marc Geise A volunteer from Lou Eibl Corral moves gravel using a Ditch Witch.

Credit: Marc Geise A volunteer from Lou Eibl Corral moves gravel using a Ditch Witch.

In response, the Lou Eibl Corral purchased a new property in 2005 that’s adjacent to NYS-DEC land on which they could ride. Shortly thereafter, the NYS-DEC closed the trails to all riders.
Some LEC members then went on a riding excursion at the Big South Fork National Recreation Area on the Kentucky/Tennessee border. After riding on miles of beautiful trails, and seeing its draw for riders and boon for the local economy, they concluded that Chautauqua County had similar potential. 

These members developed a general plan for a horse-trail system with supporting
amenities and services, including hitching posts at retail stores and restaurants. They also envisioned private bed-and-barn establishments and campgrounds designed for riders traveling in campers and trailers. 

A general plan was proposed to Chautauqua County leadership, including the
Industrial Development Agency. Director Bill Daley instantly understood the regional tourism potential of the plan. 

Momentum for the project benefited from existing, compatible trail and greenway planning led by the Chautauqua County Planning Department. 

From there, public/private collaborations and partnerships were formed that enabled the development of a formal Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System for the Boutwell State Forest/Cherry Creek area, funded and administered by the Department of Planning and Economic Development. This trail system includes the development of 35 miles of equestrian accessible trails using public and private lands. 

Credit: Marc Geise A new kiosk at a Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System trailhead.

Credit: Marc Geise A new kiosk at a Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System trailhead.

The Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System will connect northern Boutwell State Forest to Cockaigne Ski Area in the south to the Village of Cherry Creek to the northeast, then northwest out of Cherry Creek to northern sections of Boutwell Forest. 

Boutwell Forest, owned and managed by the NYS-DEC, features stands of pines, streams, and fern beds. Trails offer scenic vistas over rolling hills. Two-track dirt roads are suitable for carriage driving. 

Construction of the 

four-phase trail system — which is being funded by Chautauqua County and the Appalachian Regional Commission with in-kind services being provided by local horse clubs — will be
completed in 2016. 

Map of the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System.

Map of the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System.

Soon, there will be approximately 135 miles of riding trails, many of them interconnected, all within a 45-mile radius of Little Valley, New York. To find out how you can help make a difference in conserving equestrian lands and trails in your own community, call the Equine Land Conservation Resource at (859) 455-8383, or visit www.elcr.org.

Chautauqua County Resources
Boutwell Hill State Forest
www.dec.ny.gov/lands/8270.html

Chautauqua County Equestrian
Trails Plan
www.planningchautauqua.com/?q=content/equestrian-trail-plan

Chautauqua County Department of
Planning & Economic Development
www.planningchautauqua.com

Chautauqua County Industrial
Development Agency
www.ccida.com

Cattaraugus County Resources

Pine Hill/South Valley Forest is a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation property to the northwest of Allegheny State Park with 26 miles of marked trails.

Pine Hill/South Valley Forest is a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation property to the northwest of Allegheny State Park with 26 miles of marked trails.

Allegheny State Park
(716) 354-9121

Cattaraugus County Equine Advisory Committee
www.cattco.org/equestrian

http://enchantedmountains.com

Little Valley Riders Club
http://littlevalleyridersclub.webs.com/

Little Valley Trails/Elkdale State Forest
www.dec.ny.gov/lands/75169.html

New York State Horse Council
www.nyhsc.org

NYS-DEC Pine Hill/South Valley Forest
www.nyhsc.org

Pat McGee Trail
www.traillink.com/trail/pat-mcgee-trail.aspx