Welcome to the Western New York Winter Hiking Challenge brought to you by Outside Chronicles. This challenge was created to get people out on the trails during the long WNY winters. Our goal is to encourage people to get outside, embrace the cold, and reap the many benefits of hiking in cold weather.
The Western New York Winter Hiking Challenge is designed to give people an opportunity to visit new local parks and explore new trails. Along with hiking the trails, the challenge material will educate participants on parks’ history and local tree species to spot while on the trail.
There are 16 parks, each with a unique landmark. The landmarks include waterfalls, ruins, bridges, water features, and trees. Each park has a highlighted “Suggested Trail” that takes you past each Challenge landmark. Feel free to explore other trails after you have found the landmark. Photos at each landmark will serve as proof of trail completion.
There are 16 hikes to choose from and one bonus hike, each with a unique landmark.
- Complete eight (8) of sixteen (16) trails between December 21, 2021 and March 20, 2022, inclusive.
- Take a selfie at the Challenge landmark at each park.
- Upload your picture to the submission page.
- (Optional) Post your picture to WNY Hiking Challenge Group or on Instagram. (use hashtags #HikeWNY and #WNYHikingChallenge. Be sure to tag @outsidechronicles).
Complete 8 Trails for: a patch, a sticker, a number, and bragging rights!
Complete the registration form and submit your registration fee of $20*.
*The registration fee is used to cover the cost of Challenge prizes (patches and stickers) and expenses. All profits will be donated to Buffalo Audubon Society for the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center. Pet registrations will be donated to Sadie’s Safe Harbor Canine Rescue.
2. Download Challenge Packet
After your registration and payment have been verified, you will be e-mailed a link to the Winter Hiking Challenge packet. The packet contains more information about the parks, maps, suggested hikes, and landmark locations.
3. Hit the Trails!
Use the information in the Challenge packet to choose eight (8) trails. Get out there and find the landmarks! Each map has a suggested path, but feel free to make your own hike.
There will be a BONUS for people who want to complete ALL sixteen (16) trails.
Remember to take a garbage bag and leave the trails better than you found them.
4. Upload Your Photos
To complete your Challenge requirement, you will need to upload your selfie to https://outsidechronicles.com/upload.
We love to see your photos and stories! Post your pictures to the WNY Hiking Challenge Group or tag @outsidechronicles on Instagram. Use the hashtags #HikeWNY and #WNYWinterChallenge. You might even see your pictures and stories featured on our channels!
5. Follow Everyone’s Progress on the Challenge Board
Stay Safe, Stay Warm, and Explore!
Are there any family discounts?
Yes, the family rate is $65 and entitles the family to up to 6 patches (including pets) upon completion of the Challenge. Just select Family at registration. Families will only need to upload one group picture.
Are there discounts for scouts?
Yes, registered Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA will receive a $5 discount. Scout registration is $15. Select the scouting organization at registration.
Do I need to register by December 21?
No, you can register anytime between now and March 20, 2022. You need to complete 8 trails by March 20, 2022.
Are dogs welcome at the Challenge?
Absolutely, they can even register and earn a patch. Proceeds from pet registrations benefit Sadie’s Safe Harbor Canine Rescue. Please follow each parks’ rules when you bring your dog (i.e. they must be licensed, kept on a leash and you must clean up after them).
Our registration system requires a unique e-mail for each registered user including our 4-legged friends. If you do not have a secondary personal e-mail address, we suggest setting up a Gmail or Outlook e-mail account and forwarding it to your primary account.
Where can I rent snowshoes?
Gear for Adventure rents snowshoes ($15 for the first day and $5 for each additional day (Kids snowshoes are half price)). Snowshoes can also be rented at Beaver Meadow Audubon Center and Reinstein Woods, for use at those parks.
Snowshoes at Beaver Meadows are $5.00 for visitors and free to Beaver Meadow Audubon Center members. BMAC has over 50 pairs of various sizes for kids and adults.
Do I need any special gear?
You will need proper winter layering and the 10 Essentials. Snowshoes and microspikes are strongly recommended when conditions dictate. I suggest investing in mircospikes first, then snowshoes. You will have many more days where microspikes come into play. There are sections of Artpark, Conklin Gully and Chestnut Ridge where microspikes are necessary due to ice and steep terrain.
How do I not get lost on the trails?
The Challenge Packet contains QR codes to download live maps to Avenza Maps. We have created two tutorial videos for Challenge participants. The first video shows you how to import maps and use basic features. The second video shows you how to use Avenza Maps while on the trail. We also highly suggest taking a paper map and learning basic map and compass skills. We have videos to help you there too!
You mentioned that a book acted as the inspiration for these Challenges?
Correct, the book is out of print, but you may be able to find it used on Amazon or at the library. The book is Secret Places: Scenic Treasures of Western New York and Southern Ontario by Bruce Kershner.
The late Bruce Kershner was a great conservationist and advocate for places like Reinstein Woods and Zoar Valley. *He was also my wife’s high school teacher.