“I haven’t been there in thirty years.”
I’ve heard that and similar sentiments in the last few months as I’ve mentioned Panama Rocks to friends and acquaintances. “Really?” I respond. “Then it’s time to go back.” And if you’ve never been there, yikes! You are definitely missing out.
The trail itself is rugged, rocky, or root-covered in some places, level and easy to navigate in others. Around every corner there is another breathtaking view of gigantic rocks – some covered with moss and ferns, others wrapped in the roots of trees. If there has been rain you might be treated to a Red Eft scampering across your trail.
Unlike some natural areas, at Panama Rocks you are encouraged to explore off-trail – but carefully, please. Scramble up to the top of the rocks. Squeeze through a narrow crevice called “Fat Man’s Misery.” Escape the heat of summer and enjoy the cool air that settles between the towering rock formations.
The natural beauty of the Rocks is reason enough to plan a visit any day of the summer, 10:00am through 5:00pm. But if you pick August 6th or 7th, the second annual Audubon Days at Panama Rocks, you’ll be treated to much more. We had a great time last year at the inaugural event. This year, we’ll bring back some of the popular activities and ramp it up with a few new ones.
General admission is $7.50, $5.00 for children aged 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under. Stop at the office to pay your fees, learn safety precautions, and sign a waiver. A portion of your fee will be donated by Panama Rocks to the Audubon Nature Center.
The two most stunning features of this natural playground are the trees and the rocks. Along the trails you may run into Dan Anderson, a retired professor from Jamestown Community College who will teach you to identify some of the trees. Tom Erlandson, also a retired JCC professor will be around another corner with the history of the rocks themselves.
New this year is an opportunity to meet live hawks and owls – up close and personal. At the end of the trail near the top there is a level area where on Saturday, August 6 from 11:00am until 3:00pm you can meet some of the live birds of prey that are cared for by Wild Spirit Education. On Sunday, August 7, Mark Baker from Eagle Dream Rehabilitation will greet you with his education birds.
Davis & Eng are volunteering their time and talent to serenade you on Saturday from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Who are Davis & Eng? Here’s an explanation from their website: “Steve Eng and Mark Davis are two longtime friends and musicians from the Jamestown, NY area. They first met in 2000 and after many years of working together in various musical projects, they teamed together in 2012 and formed the duo of Davis & Eng. Steve has vocal duties and plays acoustic and electric guitars while Mark plays the upright electric bass. They are not locked into any specific category of musical styles. Their inspiration is drawn from a variety of musical genres as they perform music from Duke Ellington to Tom Petty.” Plan to come early to explore the rocks, then spread your picnic blanket on the lawn and enjoy this wonderful musical entertainment.
Audubon staff and volunteers will be on hand with natural artifacts and plenty of literature to answer your questions about nature and the Nature Center. Also new this year, while supplies last and for an additional $10 to cover the cost of materials, you can build a wooden birdfeeder to hang at your home or give as a gift.
It doesn’t take long to speed walk the trail, but that’s no fun! Between the natural beauty and the extra activities provided by the Nature Center, you could easily spend the entire day with us. Bring a picnic, lawn chairs or blanket, and even some lawn games and plan to spend some quality time with your friends and family.
Panama Rocks is located at 11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, New York 14767. Their phone number is (716) 782‑2845 and their website is http://www.panamarocks.com/.
The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, New York 14701. The phone is (716) 569‑2345 and the website is http://jamestownaudubon.org.
Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.