Expert offers safety tips for Zoar Valley

GOWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – All too often, hikers enter the rough terrain in Zoar Valley and lose their way.

On Tuesday, a woman believed to be in her 20s got lost in the nearly 3,000-acre multi-use area. She escaped the forest some four hours later after stumbling upon a roadway.

Jim Redline from Zoar Valley Canoe and Rafting Company has been taking visitors on the creek for more than three decades. He says this land isn’t like other state-owned land.

“Zoar Valley isn’t really a park, it’s a multi-use area. Other than maintaining parking areas, there’s no other signage.”

Between 50 and 75 first responders were called to Zoar Valley on Tuesday to help assist in the search for the missing woman. Her car was found in a parking lot on the northern end.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation doesn’t maintain anything other than those few parking lots, so when you’re inside Zoar Valley, you’re really on your own.

“Going down and getting in to the gorge is relatively simple; coming out is another story. It’s all up hill and slippery,” said Redline.

Lost hikers in the past have often been rescued by helicopter. The woman who got lost Tuesday didn’t need that but her unexpected adventure is a good reminder for people to be prepared.

“The best thing to do is to let someone know where you’re going,” said Redline. “Carry a cell phone because there is cell phone service down there.”

If you have any questions before going into Zoar Valley, call the DEC at 716-372-0645.

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