Little Rock City

Little Rock City in Rock City State Forest

Little Rock City in Salamanca’s Rock City State Forest, not to be confused with Rock City Park in nearby Olean, is free to explore! You could spend 20 minutes or two hours wandering through the boulders, some as large as houses.

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Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

Best of Rochester Award-Winning Book for Best Published Literary Work of 2023.

Little Rock City in Rock City New York State Forest

A transcending experience

What I found most striking about Little Rock City is how serene it can be exploring the alleyways. The moss helps to absorb sound, the shadows keep the trails cool, and the crack of a twig underfoot is amplified around you.

It is a similar experience in the rock cities near Rochester as well.

Little Rock City in Rock City New York State Forest
Little Rock City in Rock City New York State Forest
Little Rock City in Rock City New York State Forest

The trail

Access to the trail is from the end of Little Rock City Forest Road at the turn-around loop, which may be inaccessible in snow.

The trail loops through the rocks and intersects the North Country Scenic Trail, where it can be followed back to Little Rock City Forest Road.

If you are interested in the area’s geology, read more about the Cattaraugus County Geology Trail.

From the website, “Today, we know that Little Rock City was not formed by glaciers, but actually formed through mountain building events known as orogenies. As sediment from surrounding areas was deposited over Rock City State Forest, the base for Little Rock City was formed. As hundreds of years passed, gravity erosion of the landscape began to separate non-resistant rock layers from those which were highly resistant, leaving us with the large boulders that are present today.”

More about Little Rock City

Cost: Free

Located in Little Valley, between Ellicottville & Salamanca, 2 hours and 15 minutes / 115 miles from Rochester (get directions).

More information:

According to the DEC website, “The area tells the geologic history of Western New York. The conglomerate rock is younger and very different from Western New York’s bedrock. During the late Devonian period (circa 370 million years ago), this area was on the shore of an ancient sea. Here, streams flowing from the Acadian Mountains, in what is now New England and New Jersey, mixed with the sea. Sediment was transported by the streams and deposited by the sea currents. Occasionally, a red Jasper stone can be found among the conglomerate. According to the Theory of Continental Drift, all of North America was rotated 450 degrees clockwise during the Devonian period, meaning Lake Superior would have been due northwest of this area. This would allow sea currents to transport the Jasper pebbles into this area.

“Over time the conglomerate was buried under thousands of feet of sedimentary rock, similar to that of Allegany State Park in Pennsylvania. The overlying rock was then eroded during the Alleghanian Orogeny, or mountain building, uplifted Eastern North America (circa 290 million years ago). It was this event, resulting from the collision of North America and Africa, which formed the supercontinent Pangaea. Over time erosion released pressure allowing the conglomerate to expand and crack. These cracks, called joints, along with joints formed by horizontal compression during orogeny itself, resulted in two sets of intersecting perpendicular lines which, through weathering, widened to become the pathways separating the blocks.”

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Have you been to Little Rock City?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

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