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  • Writer's pictureCooper and Piper

Where to Find Outdoor Climbing in Western New York

As a student of University at Buffalo, and coming from Watertown NY, one of the biggest pitfalls of the greater Buffalo area is its complete lack of elevation changes. In all honesty, the only place with comparable flatness is Florida. This can be a bit of a buzzkill for any adventure that calls for some steep inclines and top-of-the-world views. While hikers will most likely have to stick to the gorges or the meadows, there is some hope for boulderers'. Now, frankly, world class boulders these are not, but if you are looking to get your feet wet and give outdoor climbing a try, Little Rock City is your answer. Little Rock City is located just above the Allegheny State Forest. Officially titled "Rock City State Forest", this stretch of woods includes campsites, boulders and trails that can be utilized in numerous ways. Mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and climbers can all hit the trails to find what they are looking for. As for climbing, just about 500 feet past the trailhead, the trail begins to sink downward into large fissures between these huge boulders. Walking down through these massive cracks, the walls get taller, and an intricate weave of paths and meandering tunnels between the boulders lets you discover new and exciting spots at every turn. The main type of rock you will find is semi-fine conglomerate. These are small pebbles that are basically glued together, and are much stronger than they look. The texture is pretty rough at first, and your skin will need some time to adjust. You won't find many slopers out in these parts, but mainly large pockets, some jugs, and a vast array of interesting crimps. As well, because all of the boulders are technically located below the surface of the ground, moisture is almost always present. It is best to find yourself on a hot, sunny day, as the canopy limits sun exposure to almost nothing. When Piper and I went, we found that the walls facing the trailhead were dry for most of the day, and the walls opposite were all very wet. There are also tons of spots to open up the hammock, as well as several primitive campsites for those who wish to stay overnight. For anyone in the Western New York area that's itching to give outdoor climbing a shot, Rock City is an absolute must. And when you are done climbing for the day you can head over to Ellicottville, an adorable town with some really unique shops. Little Rock City is a hidden treasure that, for the most part, is unknown to even lifelong Buffalonians. If you are looking for a quite escape in a beautiful section of woods with some great climbing and unique features, you cannot go wrong with Rock City.

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