Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, your job, the stress at home, or whatever is troubling you? Maybe you just want to try something different, or spend a few hours outside – away from the television. Whatever the case may be, I’ve got just the place for you.Tifft Nature Preserve is certainly one of Buffalo, New York’s hidden gems. Many people don’t even know of its existence, let alone where it’s located or how great it is. I’m here to change all that.
Tifft is located in an area that I can only consider to be in proximity to the Old First Ward. It’s not quite South Buffalo, not quite downtown, and on the brink of the Old First Ward – where those three areas nearly intersect.
A less than ten minute drive from downtown, Tifft is located near the Outer Harbor. (There’s an underpass after you exit the highway – drive one way and you’ll reach the Outer Harbor, Dug’s Dive and Gallagher Beach; the other way will get you to Tifft.)
Before I go any further, let me also state that Tifft is also accessible by bus. Simply hop the #36 NFTA Metro bus from downtown Buffalo and get off by Gallagher Beach. You’re just steps away from Tifft.
I’ve now been to the preserve only a handful of times, but I really enjoy going there. There’s a number of trails you can follow, from Rabbit Run to Mosquito Junction. Lake Kirsty greets you as you enter the parking lot, and just up the first path is the visitor’s center, where you can purchase Tifft t-shirts and literature, as well as water and snacks. Be sure to grab a map while you’re there – although all the trails are marked, the map will help you stay on track.
Follow a trail, keep an eye out for wildlife and relax. You may see deer, rabbits, foxes or birds – maybe even something else. Bring binoculars or a camera if you’d like. Spend an hour, two or three – the preserve closes at dusk and is open year-round.
Be sure to wear appropriate footwear – the trails are pretty good, but if it’s rained lately, they may be a little muddy, since there’s marshes and ponds all around. Stay on the trails and don’t pick up any plants or animals, and don’t leave any litter behind.
Most of all: enjoy it. Tifft is a wonder, and it’s just steps away from one of the major highways in Buffalo, the Outer Harbor and downtown. It’s amazing to think that this beautiful, natural area is so close to industrial areas, but this stark contrast is exactly what makes it a hidden gem.