Grooming in a Winter Wonderland!

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The winter weather has been wonderful for the snow bunnies this year in the Enchanted Mountains and shows no signs of stopping. Visitors, as always, come out to enjoy the ski slopes of Holiday Valley Resort and HoliMont, but some exciting changes are happening even deeper in the hills at McCarty Hill State Forest.

Jacob Bodway, current President of the Western New York Mountain Bicycling Association (WNYMBA) and a group of other locals have raised funds to purchase a trailer and a "Snow Dog" to groom the trails in McCarty Hill State Forest in the winter months "unleashing" a whole new realm of winter activities for visitors to enjoy from snowshoeing, cross country skiing, mountain biking, and fat bike rides.

Visitors can park at the Eagle Trail head by Dollar General. They can then access the trails by going up the snowmobile climb but it can be very steep and difficult. It may be a challenge to go up but sure is a fun ride back down. Some people access the trails by using the HoliMont Cross Country Ski trails. That takes them to the top of the hill by Spruce Lake. The following trails are groomed: Mesa, Sidewinder, Dead Dog, and parts of Big Merlin, totaling 10 miles for you to explore.

While hiking the trails, it is recommended to wear snowshoes to preserve the trail conditions. You can also keep an eye on the trail conditions by joining the Ellicottville, NY Trail Conditions group on Facebook or go to

Below is a photo of some of the WNYMBA members with the "Snow Dog."

 WNYMBA group with Snow Dog

When asked what the group’s goal is for future trail endeavors, the answer was very enthusiastic:

'The ultimate goal, not just for winter fat biking, but for year round, four season, mountain biking experience is to get one of the ski resorts to buy into the idea of lift service mountain biking. We know that there is an absolute, fever pitch demand right now for having the lift service access in Western New York because there isn’t anything within 7 hours that cater to that. That would cover summer months in addition to the winter months. Ultimately, you have to do it right the first time. In wintertime, if riders could use the chair to get up the hill and then having a way down using set trails.’

Jacob went on to say, he hoped each resort would eventually invest in a snow dog to help create trails as it would be expanding the clientele for winter sports by having skiing, snowboarding, fat biking, and in the summer capitalizing on the hill which is the ultimate asset. “In summer, we have 30 miles of world class single track trails already. It would be a true mountain biking Mecca. The goal is to tie in what is already at the state forest with the local community. So it is more accessible to more people.”

Because of COVID-19 trail use has more than tripled. Snowshoes, skis, and mountain bikes are sold out everywhere. This is the perfect time to utilize our recreational opportunities here.

For now, one thing is for sure, the investment of the “Snow Dog” has been very positive and is already a step in the right direction for WNYMBA in reaching some of their goals. Visitors are lucky to be able to experience the already beautiful trail system at McCarty Hill State Forest, in a much safer and easier manner.

Family bicycling on the Allegheny River Valley Trail

About Samantha Hayes

"Life was meant for good friends and great adventures."

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