Zoar Valley

Every year while vacationing in western New York, we spend one day traveling inland to visit Zoar valley.  Zoar valley is a very unique area with high cliffs, picturesque views, and old growth forests where two major streams, the Main Branch and South Branch of the Cattaraugus creek, join and continue on their way to Lake Erie.  While the land is owned by the state, it is not a State Park and is very undeveloped with no facilities and even fewer trail markers.

Southbranch Cliff - 
When you first reach the streambed of the South Branch of the Cattaraugus, you are greeted by an imposing cliff that is a good sign of things to come.

Cascasde - 
Zoar Valley has many waterfalls and cascades and I've read that this one in particular is well over 80 feet high.  I also learned that by definition waterfalls are where water actually free falls whereas cascades are where the water flows down a steep cliff face.

Paper Wasp's Nest - 
The overhang above this Paper Wasp's nest provided shelter from the rain and falling rocks that are common on the shale cliffs in Zoar.

Southbranch looking at Confluence - 
Nearing the end of the South Branch, one can see the confluence of the two streams ahead, marked by an intersting cliff formation on the right that some say resembles a head.  As a matter of fact, this spot is often called "Indian head."

Confluence - 
The confluence of the smaller South Branch and larger Main Branch of the Cattaraugus.  The day we were there, people had set up several rock cairns on a small island above the rapids.

American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) - 
This bullfrog didn't seem to mind us.  As a matter of fact, we were able to get as close as we wanted and it simply stayed put with its lower mouth puffed out.  I'm not sure if that is a warning to predators, a technique for absorbing warmth, or something else altogether.

Main Branch - 
We hiked up the bank of the Main Branch farther than we have in the past and some saw new terrain. Next year we'll probably try to venture even farther.

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - 
In the middle of the Main Branch, we found an alluvial island full of wildflowers.  This St. John's Wort was in full bloom on this beautiful sunny day.

Wild Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) - 
Teasel has interesting flowers that are quite beautiful albeit very small.  This specimen was also on the island in the middle of the Main Branch of the Cattaraugus.

Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) - 
Birdsfoot Trefoil has beautiful little yellow flowers that are very striking in full sunlight.  The deep hue of their yellow blossoms really stands out against the browns and greens of the forest floor and is fast becoming one of my favorite of the smaller wildflowers.

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) - 
This American Toad was close to where we found the Bullfrog and it too didn't seem bothered by our presence.  Since it was a beautiful sunny day, it was soaking up some sun.