Friday, January 13, 2017


Swallow Hollow, which we profiled in this column in 2016, is far and away the most popular hiking trail in the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge, sometimes affectionately known as the “Alabama Swamps.”

Second on that list, and a distant second at that, is the Kanyoo nature trail.

That’s odd, given the accessibility of the Kanyoo trail. It’s not off the beaten path like Swallow Hollow. It’s on Route 77, just down the street from the extremely popular waterfowl and bald eagle overlooks.

Maybe it’s the fact that the entrance to the trail doesn’t look very inviting. Most folks might not even think there’s a trail there at all. You can chalk that up to the presence of a barn in the parking lot, which might lead people to believe that it’s a worksite for the refuge’s employees.

Don’t let that fa├žade fool you. The Kanyoo trail offers an excellent jaunt.

The stone parking lot next to that barn has parking for approximately 25 cars and in the winter months it is plowed, making this a trail for all seasons.

Next to some interpretive signage along the lot, you will see a stone path head into the woods.

From there, you are granted various types of nature watching – from forest to wetland.

Especially in the spring and early summer, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of birds present in those habitats along the trail – you could conceivably see 50 species of birds on one short trip. It’s no wonder the trail has the name of Kanyoo – it’s an Iroquois word that means “wildlife”.

The forest is impressive, it has a great canopy created by some large maples and tulip trees. I am especially impressed with the size of many of the cherry trees along the trail. The photo accompanying this column shows a particularly large specimen.

Thanks to the abundance of large trees, there is limited thick underbrush which allows excellent growth of wildflowers in the spring. Bring a camera, because the forest floor is graced by trilliums, partridge berries, Canada mayflowers, and may apples. At the same time you see those flowers, keep your eyes to the sky, as the forest is home to thrushes, tanagers and vireos, and popular migratory stopover for countless warblers.

As you head deeper into the woods, you will encounter vernal pools in the low spots in the spring, affording vast breeding grounds for toads and frogs. If you visit on the right warm spring day, your ears will be overwhelmed by the cacophony of courting amphibians.

Make sure you have binoculars with you, because the trail will take you into a marsh. There, a well-maintained 400-foot long boardwalk takes you over the water putting you into perfect viewing of a monstrous, sprawling marsh that might be 300 to 400 acres in size as it opens to the northeast.

There, you can observe countless wetland birds from herons to egrets to coots and rails. During the migratory peak, you will see hundreds of ducks and geese in the area.

The center of the boardwalk sports a seating area if you want to take a load off your feet or have a pleasant picnic. There are numerous other benches throughout the trail system, too.

The Kanyoo nature trail is a mile and a third in total length if you take both sub-trails. The blue trail is almost one mile long and that is the trail that features the boardwalk. The less popular yellow branch should not be overlooked – it is two-thirds of a mile long and goes through old growth forests before coming close to a narrower portion of the marsh. Both parts of the Kanyoo nature trail have some interpretive signage pointing out key parts of the ecosystem.

The trail is perfectly flat and well-groomed, make it family-friendly. Young and old can hike it with ease and a stroller can easily navigate it. That flatness also makes it popular with cross-country skiers in the winter months; it gives them an excellent workout in an enjoyable environment.

The next time you visit the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge, make it a point to explore the Kanyoo trail – it gives nature lovers some easy access to interesting wildlife. 

From the 12 January 2017 All WNY News

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

yeah, its a great trail!