As part of my dog-friendly park summer series, my wife and I paid a visit to Como Lake park in Lancaster, which is listed as the “Best Family Picnic Area In Buffalo WNY.”
I can see why this park is so family-friendly. The day that we went, just about every park picnic shelter was occupied. And that is no small feat. That’s because there are a total of 59 park shelters! We couldn’t believe the amount of activity at the park – we had never seen anything quite like it. It was like a giant outdoor party, with folks cooking out, listening to music, throwing footballs, playing tennis, etc. If there is a park in WNY is utilized to the fullest for its recreational amenities, it’s got to be this park. The nice thing is that the picnic shelters are all spaced out so that there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the park, without feelings as if they are cramped together.
The funny thing is, we didn’t go to the park to play tennis, or picnic… we went to take a walk along the nature trail that runs along Cayuga Creek. It’s a wonderful hike through wooded lands that most people probably don’t even know exists. During our outing with the dogs (leashed), we did not run into one single person.
Not a soul to be seen or heard the entire time. Just the sounds of the creek and wildlife, which was hard to believe considering that just on the other side of the wooded lands were 59 occupied picnic shelters and boundless activity.
I am so happy that we found this natural park scape, situated in relatively close proximity to the city. The trails were all kept up, and we did not see one single piece of litter during our visit – the wooded trail was spotless. As we walked, we came across a family of, what I believe was, canvasback ducks, drifting down the waters. I am also happy to say that I have never come across so much wild swamp milkweed – it was everywhere!
To me, Como Lake Park appears to be two entirely distinct park settings. There’s the picnic shelter aspect, and then there’s the serene Cayuga Creek Nature Trail setting.
As for the rest of the park features, there’s a dog park (opening this fall), a circa 1928 casino (Chestnut Ridge Casino), a soccer field, 2 basketball courts, 4 tennis courts, playgrounds, and The Lighthouse Disc Golf Course. The disc golf course is situated on two islands – North Island and South Island, connected by three foot bridges.
And there is an actual old lighthouse called Como Lake Lighthouse. Park amenities include an electric car charging station, places to camp, and in the winter months, sledding hill and two skating rinks (according to the park’s website).
Depending on one’s mood, Como Lake Park is many things to many people. Personally, I’ll take advantage of the natural scape, to immerse myself into a calm and relaxed setting that is simply a walk in the park. Places like this are harder and harder to come by, which is why it is so special. Finding these types of wilds so close to a city, surrounded (for the most part) by encroaching low density development, is a real blessing.
Hint: If you park at the giant parking lot with a vantage point onto the lawn of the casino. The entranceway to the nature trail is not far off – see the “X” in the image below. It’s not marked – we had to ask someone how to get to the trail. But once you have an idea where to look, it’s apparent where to go.
Como Lake Park is maintained by Erie County Parks, Recreation & Forestry