Allegany County High Point Trip Report

Alma Hill (2,548 ft)

Date: September 2, 2001
Author: Dan Case

This is not only the high point of Western New York, but indeed the entire state west of the eastern ranges (ADKs, Catskills and Berkshires).

To get to this relatively easy point to visit, you must first get yourself to the isolated village of Wellsville. This can be done by getting off I-86/NY 17 at NY 19 and following it 12 miles to the south, where it joins up with NY 417, the former route of NY 17 prior to the construction of the Southern Tier Expressway. Once in Wellsville, look for the West State Street bridge across the Genesee River (currently under reconstruction, but a detour is marked). Turn left on Brooklyn Avenue, the first intersection afterwards, and go down to Pine Street. Make a right and follow it uphill, out of town, towards Wellsville airport.

After a tight little uphill bend, it becomes Niles Hill Road in the Town of Wellsville and then crosses into the Town of Scio.

This is where you have to pay attention. Not shown on the topo or Delorme is that Alma Hill Road is known as Bellamy Road where it leaves Niles Hill to the left about two and a half miles from the village. If you miss it, you will end up at a five-way junction known as Petrolia (yes, this area was oil country once) with a monument to the first working well in the region, drilled near here in the late 19th century. Take the unsigned sharp left uphill past the fire house. This eventually leads you to Alma Hill Road (again, no sign, but the intersection is obvious and as shown on the maps).

This slowly leads you up gentle slopes to the crest of Alma Hill, recognizable by all the antennas on it (one of which you go past at the Reddy Road junction). At Ford Brook Road S. Branch, you will finally get a sign confirming you are on Alma Hill Road, and the chained gate Mike Schwartz mentioned appears on your left about 0.1 mile further on. Although there is no pullout, there is plenty of space on the roadside to park opposite.

As Mike described, a very short walk with minimal elevation gain awaits you from here. No sooner will you have started than you'll be on the old, rusty gas wells and the stone pipeline-type thing that crosses the road. You can indeed see the pumping station off to your right, but the road ahead to higher ground veers left. A couple of hundred feet further on, I did indeed seem to top out, and found the witness post and what appeared to be not the summit benchmark in a rock but a reference marker. I don't know if this is the same one shown on p. 25 of Gary Fallesen's book; it certainly looked like it. The reference marker gave no indication as to how far away the BM was.

All candidates for high ground were evaluated. Best candidate was the rock near the witness post, but it might have some competition across the road, a few feet in from it.

It was hard to tell with such dense fern growth on the ground. As an aside, I really liked the summit for that reason. Combined with the abundant growth of beech (a tree I don't recall seeing in any prevalence elsewhere in the state), it felt like a little piece of the Catskills transported west.

one area 0.7 mile south of Alma Hill (2,540+ ft)

This is also relatively easy, although a longer walk. Continue down Alma Hill Road a half-mile and park near the AT&T tower. The wood road is obvious but most easily seen only when you're standing directly across from it. After scaring a few deer away, we began.

I'd say it's about 0.3 mile till it peters out. Instead of reaching a footpath and bushwhack, however, I found myself in some sort of campsite or clearing, with a little mound on the right. A distance too short to be called a bushwhack really brought me to the top, where I discovered another small mound on the ground next to a very large hemlock (not Norway spruce). This seemed to be the highest I could find.