|You’ll never be lost if you remember that moss always grows on the north side of your compass.|
Our friend Mark joined Karl, Sadie, and me for a 5 mile hike in Cattaraugus State Forest.
Although the elevation was high, the walking was very easy, as it was mostly along old dirt roads (West Hill, Krager Hill and Potter Hill Roads). The roads seemed little used, as only a handful of cars passed us on Krager Hill Road, and we saw no vehicles at all on the other roads. After our hike, we drove down the extremely rough and bumpy Potter Hill Road. It was so narrow that tree branches kept hitting our truck!
We found a small picnic area in the woods off West Hill Road, and we stopped here for lunch. I explored the woods around the area and found the ground was deceptively soft. At one point I stepped on what I thought was solid ground, but turned out to be mud or quicksand (?). My foot sank over my calf, and I pulled out with difficulty. If I had placed both feet on this spot, I would have had a hard time getting out of it.
Further down West Hill Road, past the intersection with Potter Hill Road, we encountered an ancient cemetery, West Hill Cemetery. The oldest date we found on a headstone was 1837, however most of the stones were so worn that they were unreadable. Most of them were in total disrepair, and were broken or fallen over.
Along Potter Hill Road, we noticed a trail cutting through the woods. It was a shortcut back to the parking area.
Wildlife we encountered along this trail included snakes, frogs, and lots of woodchucks. We also saw many deer tracks.
We also found another campsite, which included a home-made spit. Mark tried to figure out what was cooked on it, but couldn’t find any bones!
Directions: Take NY 353 into Cattaraugus. Turn north onto Lovers Lane Road. After only .1 mile, turn east onto Buehlow Hill Road. Drive 2 miles to State Land Road, which begins Cattaraugus State Forest. Park here.
Photos by Jennifer and Karl Weir, 7/98.
Our guidebook for this hike was 50 Hikes in Western New York, by William P. Ehling.