PANAMA - Less than 6 miles off Interstate 86 lies a village surrounded by the natural beauty of several nearby state forests and scenic parks.
Panama, a village with more than a 150-year history, is most notably known for a nearby rock formation, Panama Rocks, which draws tourists from around the world. But, also located nearby are Panama State Forest, North Harmony State Forest, Hill Higher State Forest, Brokenstraw State Forest and Whalen Memorial State Forest. Close proximity to Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown, Mayville, Bemus Point, Long Point State Park and Midway State Park also makes the location a well-known getaway for outdoor enthusiasts.
According to the village of Panama and town of Harmony, Panama Rocks is a geological formation created during the Devonian period, which is part of the Paleozoic Era, and is known for sustaining the first significant forms of terrestrial life. Known for enjoyable hikes and being a family-friendly option, the location has been a popular tourist attraction since the 1880s. It is ranked the No. 1, out of 20, most recommended attraction in Chautauqua County by tripadvisor.com. The No. 2 attraction, Chautauqua Institution, is also located nearby, as well as more than half of the other recommended destinations. For more information, visit www.panamarocks.com.
Panama State Forest, which according to the Department of Environmental Conservation spans 1,224 acres in the town of Harmony, is located south of Panama. Hardwood and conifer timber management is practiced at Panama State Forest. It offers recreationalists many opportunities, such as: picnicking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and birdwatching. For hiking purposes, the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail navigates the state's woodlots and access trails. Biking, hiking, snowshoeing and camping in lean-to areas is allowed on the 24-mile Parks Division of Chautauqua County Department of Public Works maintained trail.
According to the DEC, North Harmony State Forest totals 2,561 acres, and is north of Panama. In addition to typical recreational activities, hunting, fishing and horseback riding are allowed.
Also nearby are the 1,156 acres of Hill Higher State Forest, 951 acres of Brokenstraw State Forest, and 1,325 acres of Whalen Memorial State Forest.
For more information, call the Village of Panama clerk at 782-3283 or visit www.panamany.org.