I’ve been trying to get to more dog-friendly places these days – some obscure and some that are high profile. One of the more well-known dog hotspots is located at Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora. Living in the city, it’s a bit of a hike to get there, but it’s well worth the drive because the dogs love it… and I do too.
I’ve been getting to know Knox Farm more intimately as of late, mainly because my wife and I now have two dogs. A quick trip to LaSalle Park gets the job done, but an excursion to Knox Farm ‘does the trick.’ After a romp at the Knox Farm’s dog park – the largest in the region, with 6 acres of property to roam – the pups are tuckered out for the rest of the day, which is the point of the visit.
Running the dogs around at the park is not the only reason that we go, however. Even if you don’t have a dog, a walk through the grounds of the State Park is spectacular. To start, the old farm structures are all still standing, which creates a warm and welcoming entranceway to the park. Then there are the winding trails that seem to go on forever. The nature trails lead to all sorts of hidden gems, including the old stables, the historic houses on the former Knox Estate, gardens, ponds, and endless fields of wildflowers.
One of my favorite things to do at Knox Farm is to sit on a bench situated along the path, overlooking a valley or a pond. There are few places in WNY that offer such relaxing and tranquil settings – even though I’ve walked the trails a few times, I still come across things that I’ve never seen before.
And the dogs love walking the trails too (on leash). And after the walk is through, it’s back to the off-leash dog areas again, for another quick run before heading back home.
There are three off-leash areas at Knox Dog Park. One of the areas is for small dogs, although I’m still trying to decipher the difference between them all. Two of the large romping areas that we have frequented are separated by wooden fencing – I have been told that one of the areas is for dogs that are not yet accustomed to dog park settings. I also heard that one elevated area is frequented by dogs whose owners don’t want them getting muddy – it’s a lot dryer after a rainstorm. Both of these fenced in yards have dedicated dog watering stations – spigots and hoses to spray them with water to cool them down, or to fill a water container from which to drink. There are a few water buckets placed around the grounds, and a couple of large shady trees to sit in the shade. There’s a small field that my puppy loves to play hide ‘n’ seek in, although I always get nervous about ticks (no sightings so far, thankfully).
I really can’t say enough about Knox Dog Park, whether you have a dog or not. A visit to this WNY oasis rejuvenates the heart and the spirit. Similar to Griffis Sculpture Park, it’s a gem that is unique to this region. There’s the history of the estate (formerly owned by the Knox Family), with breathtaking structures that appear seemingly out of nowhere – the actual State Park is a whopping 633 acres, featuring “a variety of habitats, including 400 acres of grasslands (pastures and hayfields), and 100 acres of woodlands, ponds and several wetland areas.”
Whether you’re with your dogs for a hearty run, with friends on bikes, or with your kids having a picnic, Knox Dog Park is a dream come true. It’s a setting that’s right out of a fairy tale.
Knox Dog Park is run by Friends of Knox Farm State Park
Other ways to enjoy Knox Farm (pandemic permitting): Hay rides, weddings (with guest house), Borderland Festival, equestrian activities, bird counts, tree plantings, wildflower walks, mansion rentals, Garden Club, Bark Bash… be sure to read the Newsletter to stay up to date with all of the events and activities at the park.