The Amish began settling in New York during the early 1800s. Coming in search of farmland and freedom, many of them wound up in the Conewango Valley in Cattaraugus County. Today, Cattaraugus County is home to the largest and the oldest group of Amish settlers.
The Amish who have settled in this area are considered conservative; many live simple, slow-paced lives and run home-based businesses, earning only enough to pay their bills.
Turning their talents into a trade, many Amish have focused on tourism, selling their wares to tourists who visit the region. In Conewango, the Amish have established the Amish Trail - a trail running through the county where you will find handmade goods and other products that have been produced locally. Cheese, milk, baskets, hand-sewn quilts, furniture, toys, candy and more can all be found along the trail.
Hand-painted signs will point you in the right direction, but be aware - you’ll need to slow down on these unblemished backroads. The Amish do not drive cars but rather get from place to place by horse-drawn buggy. The average speed of most horse-drawn buggies is approximately 10 mph, and it is not uncommon to see many of these buggies out and about as you travel along the trail. So prepare to slow down and enjoy the ride as you take in the scenery of your surroundings.
A note to travelers - as you make your way along the Amish Trail, be mindful of their culture and beliefs. It is not courteous to photograph the Amish as being photographed is against their beliefs.
While there are many shops worth visiting along the trail, Raber Toy Shop and Malinda’s Candy are two you can’t miss. The owner of Raber Toy Shop has a twinkle in his eye and is undoubtedly passionate about his business. The store boasts beautiful wooden toys, puzzles and household items all making for perfect, one-of-a-kind gifts! At Malinda’s, stop in to satisfy your sweet tooth. Here you’ll find goat-milk fudge, jam, jellies and more. Try the peach jam or the pecan turtle candy - both delicious!
A trip though the Amish Trail is a truly unique experience. To find out more or to snag an informational brochure, visit amishtrail.com.