New York

Deer Lick Conservation Area

Explore a variety of forest types and rugged canyons in this serene preserve.

PLEASE NOTE: Deer Lick is open during hunting season. Hunting is not allowed at Deer Lick.

Located within the rugged Zoar Valley priority conservation landscape, Deer Lick Conservation Area is a designated National Natural Landmark found on the South Branch of Cattaraugus Creek. 

Deer Lick offers a variety of forests types to experience, from meadow edge pioneer species to old-growth hemlock-northern hardwoods. Catch glimpses of striking shale canyon walls during your hike. Nearby state lands provide access to the creek bed, providing a unique opportunity to view deep gorge canyons from the bottom up. The serene, rugged beauty of these canyons is not to be missed!

The Zoar Valley is the northern edge of the range of the American chestnut tree, which has been decimated by the chestnut blight, an invasive fungus from Asia. Young chestnut trees aren’t affected until they reach a size of 8” diameter at breast height, and many young chestnut sprouts can be found at Deer Lick.
Researchers are trying to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut by combining American chestnut genes with those from Asian varieties that are resistant to the blight.

PLEASE NOTE: Deer Lick is open during hunting season. Hunting is not allowed at Deer Lick.

Download a preserve guide.

Deer Lick is open from dawn to dusk and features five hiking trails, from short, easy ventures to more challenging treks. The creek supports the rare tiger beetle and sand darter and is an important steelhead fishery. Black bear and bald eagles have also been spotted here. The forest here is exemplary. Many ancient sugar maple, American beech, and black cherry trees have grown over 100 feet tall.  

Please remember! Many attractive lands in the Zoar Valley are privately owned. Please observe posted signs and obtain permission before accessing any private property. No alcohol or glass containers are permitted in Deer Lick.

At this preserve, you can hike through several hundred acres of unspoiled forest:

  • Blue Trail (0.9 mile): Over hilly terrain through old apple orchard. Watch for deer feeding on apples.
  • Red Trail (1.1 miles): Easy walking mostly through open meadows and along the top of a forested ravine.
  • Orange Trail (2.1 miles): Pleasant hiking through hilly forest terrain paralleling Deer Lick Creek. This makes a beautiful fall foliage hike.
  • White Trail (3.2 miles): Follows a ridgeline over the highest point at Deer Lick, through old-growth forest to Bear Point, where there are views of the gorge and tall trees. Trail passes over Melissa’s Spring, a seep discharging water from the base of a slope.
  • Yellow Trail (3.3 miles): Explores the Deer Lick ravine, wanders through old-growth forest and leads to a view of the top of Deer Lick Falls.

This preserve is located in Cattaraugus County, New York.


From Erie County, take US Route 62 to Gowanda.

  • Turn east on S. Water St. (the first street south of the bridge), which becomes Commercial St., and then Palmer St.
  • Turn right onto Broadway (County Rt. 4). 
  • Continue on Broadway approximately 1 mile. 
  • Turn left on Point Peter Rd. to Deer Lick (about 0.5 miles past Forty Rd. on the left).

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