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.

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 under foot 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 geology of the area, 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:

From the DEC website, “The area tells the geologic history of Western New York. The conglomerate rock is younger and very different than the bedrock in Western New York. 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.”

4 Rock Cities Near Rochester

Explore these cool, quiet, mossy rock cities near Rochester, with boulders the size of houses! You’ll love Panama Rocks, Rock City Park, Little Rock City, and Thunder Rocks in Allegany State Park.

Read more

Panama Rocks Scenic Park

Watch your footing, know your limits, and use common sense when it comes to climbing on the boulders at Panama Rocks Scenic Park.

Read more

Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history, filled with drumlins, fossils and a meromictic lake, will leave you awe-struck.

Read more

11 National Natural Landmarks Near Rochester

These National Natural Landmarks, recognized for their outstanding biological and geological resources, are all within a two-hour drive of Rochester, NY.

Read more

Transcending Places

Rather than an escape, I prefer to think of these as transcending places that encourage us to transcend space, time, and state of mind.

Read more

72 Hiking Trails Around Rochester

A few rustic trails around Rochester that will inspire you to take a hike. A diverse collection of rail, waterside, and inland trails.

Read more

Have you been to Little Rock City?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.