Saturday, June 21, 2008
Eternal Flame Falls
Eternal Flame Falls is in Chestnut Ridge Park, a county park in Orchard Park. It is in an undeveloped section of the park, also called Shale Creek Preserve. After a short hike through typical WNY forest, you head down into a little gorge and head back upstream towards the waterfall. This is a neat, possibly unique in the whole world, site to see. There is a 30 foot waterfall with a gas seam underneath it. Usually, the seam is lit so there is a four to six inch flame coming out of the rocks underneath the waterfall. Although, this is a hike involving steep slopes and possible stream walking for a few feet, I highly recommend this hike for families with kids. My kids are fascinated by the flame under the falls. They also enjoy splashing in the stream and seeing the birds and trees along the way. One of my favorite times of year to visit is in the winter when there is lots of ice framing the flame, just use caution for thin ice and slippery slopes.
Where it is: It is on Seufert Road right after the turn from Chestnut Ridge Road (See directions from Buffalo Ward chapel). There is a wide section of shoulder on the right on which you can park. Head through the gate and follow the blue blazes on the trees. There is also a map posted on a signboard a little ways up the trail.
How long a hike: The signboard says 1.3 miles roundtrip. I think it is a tad longer because of the winding nature of the stream and the elevation changes.
Best time of year: For low stream levels, mid to late summer. Coolest scenery - Winter after several weeks for very cold weather for neat ice formations on the gorge walls and around the waterfall.
Word of advice: Please use caution at all times as there are steep drop offs, wet rocks, and running water throughout the preserve. That said, it is one of the coolest hikes that I have ever done. Also, bring a BBQ-style lighter, in case the gas seam is not lit. You should be able to see a little recess under the waterfall to the right and light the crack at the back of it to see the flame.
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