One of the more interesting things that happens to a ski town is the metamorphasis that occurs after mud season. Mud season is traditionally when spring rolls along and the snow melts and the locals in a ski town head for vacation before they begin the summer festivities that define the area in the “off season.” Large ski areas are great in this transition but there are also smaller towns like Ellicottvile, New York that have lots to offer in the non-ski times of the year. I like to ski at Holimont and Holiday Valley during the winter because they get that great Lake Erie Fluff. Nice snow and maybe not the vertical drop of the west but nonetheless enjoyable. But when the summer comes, the mountain bike trails come alive in the Allegheny National Forest and the endless singletrack under the eastern canopy of a national forest can compete with riding anywhere in the country.
If you go to “EVL” in the summer, you can set up your base of operations at the Inn at Holiday Valley. It is right on the ski slopes of Holiday Valley Resort and the room prices are very reasonable in the summer. If you are a mountain biker like me, you can ride right from the Inn and utilize a very well constructed map of the trails created by the Western New York Mountain Bike Association. http://www.wnymba.com This map is available at all the ski/bike shops in town as well as at the Inn. My favorite loop is to ride from the Inn to the Race Course loop, to the Big Merlin trail, to the Dead Dog Loop(a personal favorite for a number of reasons), to the Sidewinder trail back to the Big Merlin and returning to the Inn via the Race Course loop again. These trails are maintained by the ski area as well as the State of New York and are really well constructed. You can get a lot of riding in this area which encompasses the forest as well as Holiday Valley and Holimont Ski Area trails. It is fabulous eastern singletrack at it’s best and not to be missed by anyone who lives within easy driving distance from EVL.
For those of you who have a significant other who does not ski or ride, the town of Ellicottville offers great shopping at boutique shops and well appointed bike and ski shops. I always say that EVL is like someone dropped a little New England ski town right in the middle of Western New York State. If you refer to my earlier blog post about sibling skiing at Holimont, you can revisit the virtues of this private ski club in the winter. But the trails there are also spectacular in the summer and Holimont comes alive in this season as well. I would also recommend the Elicottville Brewing Company for a cold beer and a meal after a ride. http://www.ellicottvillebrewing.com and an alternate selection with many beers on tap is the John Harvard Brew Pub at the Tamarack Club at the Holiday Valley Ski area. Don’t miss the chicken pot pie. It is the bomb!!!
Most of the time I am visiting EVL on my way to or from Rochester,NY. I do some work up there and I always make it a point to stay in EVL instead of a hotel off the interstate near Rochester. Western New York has a lot to offer and is relatively close to Canada for some alternate visits to Niagra on the Lake. A personal favorite of my wife and me. Lake Chautauqua is close by as well as Lake Erie( the source of all that great snow in the winter.) So, in these times when it may be challenging for us easterners to go out west several times per year, the lively alternative is Ellicottville. The mountain bike riding and hiking is spectacular not only in the summer but in the fall. Those fall colors rival New England and the shopping and dining are worth the trip alone. Hey, hit it now with the upcoming fall upon us, before it is too late to enjoy the “off-season.” Thanks for reading