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Western New York Outdoors
A Parks and Recreation Guide to locations for outdoor adventures in WNY.

Zoar Valley
State Multiple Use Area in the Town of Otto, Cattaraugus County.

Western New York Outdoors home

Beyond Buffalo


This region contains some of the last old growth forest in New York State with some big trees that are a couple hundred years old.  The gorge can be a dangerous place for the unsuspecting or amateur hiker, so beware.  The Cattaraugus Creek has awesome whitewater rafting and fishing.  There are numerous waterfalls, cascades, brooks and springs.  There are scenic views, nature trails, wildlife, streams, ponds and a variety of woodlands.

From Gowanda to Zoar Valley, south of the creek, there are parking areas at the end of Point Peter Road (to Forty Road) and Valentine Flats Road.  From Valentine's Flats parking area you can hike along the gorge to Lookout Point (Also called Overlook Point).  A few bends downstream from there is where Point Peter Brook empties into the Cattaraugus.  On the north bank from North Otto Road, you can take Forty Road to the end, at the top of the gorge, and then hike down a steep hill.  South of Forty Road there is a foot access to a Gravel Pit Trail and east of the Purdy Gravel Pit there are Wildlife Ponds.  The South Branch gorge and upstream from the MUA is private property, no trespassing. Respect the boundaries, look for posted warning signs.

North of Cattaraugus Creek, in Erie County, there are several access points to the MUA from Vail Road.  There are parking areas leading to the trail connecting Ross Pond to Holcomb Pond.  There is also a parking area at the end of Button Road.

Nearby is the East Otto State Forest, which allows camping and apparently logging.

Maps: Click on a thumbnail pic to enlarge the image.

Zoar Valley

Streets map and Cattaraugus Creek.

Zoar Valley MUA

NYS DEC Multiple Use Area in Cattaraugus and Erie counties.

Images:  Zoar Valley MUA in Cattaraugus County.

Zoar Valley

One of several NYS DEC signs for the MUA. Closed sunset to sunrise.

Lookout Point

Looking toward the Hogs Back and the "Y", to the South Branch. The scenic location is also known to some as Overlook Point.


Kayakers downstream on the Cattaraugus Creek, some near the shoreline also.

Valentine Forest

Looking down from Lookout Point at the trees where the Valentine farm once was.

Valentine Flats

The lowland was originally farmland. Lookout Point overlooks the Cattaraugus Creek valley and the South Branch.

The Confluence

The Y, where Cattaraugus Creek flows upstream east and the South Branch begins. Popular among the nudists.

Zoar Cliffs

Low water in creek during a dry summer, near the Forty parking area. Vito and Betty atop the cliff on July 9th, 2005.

Point Peter to Forty

From Gowanda, roads to parking lot at end of Forty Road. Hikers usually start here.

Forty Road

Coming from North Otto Road, on the east side of the parking lot.

Deer Lick Sanctuary

The forest area and trails west of the creek and Big Falls.

Zoar Valley MUA:  Holcomb Pond and Ross Ponds in Erie County.

American Chestnut Plantation

Trees and sign near the Vail Road and Unger Road parking area. Trail to Ross Pond.

Zoar Valley MUA

Parking area and gated trail to Holcomb Pond.

Holcomb Pond

NYS DEC stocked, catch and release.


Geese at center of Holcomb Pond viewed from the dike.


A bird house located near Holcomb Pond shore, as seen on the forest edge from the dike.


Aerial view of Ross Pond and Holcomb Pond. Located south of Vail Road, there are parking areas to gated access and trail.

Other Related Sites:

Environment DEC Newsletter - March 2007 archive.
Zoar Valley Unit Management Plan - NYS DEC.

Adventure Calls Outfitters - WNY river runners.
All About Zoar Valley Site - Nice photography by Frank Broughton.
Catt Rafting Adventures
NYS DEC - Region 9 State land.
Zoar Valley Canoe & Rafting Company
Zoar Valley Nature Society
Zoar Valley - Gowanda, NY - Awesome site from Stoneman with history, pics and detail maps.

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