The Whiteface region is a beautiful and peaceful area of the Adirondacks, consisting of four hamlets that are not to be missed on your visit. The towns are Ausable Forks, Upper Jay, Jay, and Wilmington. There is so much to do and see in these family oriented communities. There are large attractions such as High Falls Gorge, Ausable Chasm, and Whiteface Mountain, and small communitites complete with dairy farms, restaurants, and natural wonders. Whiteface Mountain stands tall right in the town of Wilmington, and although you can ski, take the scenic gondola ride, or drive to the top on the scenic Veterans Memorial Highway, there is so much more to this area than that one mountain. For example, the Ausable River runs through this area and the fly fishermen can be seen all along the river. They look as if they have appeared right out of a Ralph Lauren catalog with their packbasket fashion and sportsman class. Mountain biking and road cycling are quickly growing to the top activities in the region. There are also many trails to ride, walk, and even jump into the river from these communities. Here is a sampling of the places and some not to miss attractions and businesses in the area.
High Falls Gorge is a 22 acre nature park. Here you can view four waterfalls while walking along bridges and glass floor walkways. These walkways are a beautiful and simple way to take in some gorgeous views, and they are perfect for families. There is a gift shop and a cafe with amazing views of the gorge to enjoy while having lunch or a light snack.
Another attraction is The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge. Located in Wilmington, this is a 50-acre "Wild Kingdom" and includes a 1-mile guided, interpretive trail complete with a river, forest, and meadow. See rescued wildlife such as hawks, owls, foxes, wolves, and a bobcat. This family owned and operated refuge is always taking in and caring for animals needing assitstance, stop in and see the care they are giving and learn about these beautfiul animals.
My Favorite attraction is Santa's Workshop. Kids and adults love this for so many reasons. The magic starts right when you enter the gate. "Merry Christmas" is heard from each character, Santa's helpers, and storybook friends. There are shows, nativity scences, and even a talking Christmas tree. The shops offer toys, beautiful decorations, and special treats you cannot find anywhere else. When you arrive you are given a schedule of events. You will not want to miss the shows or Santa's special appearances, so check out the times to make sure you are in the right spot at the right time, and be good. Santa shows up everywhere.
Ausable Forks is where the East and West Branches of the Ausable River meet. Here you can visit Asgaard Farm, a working dairy farm formerly owned by artist, writer, and political activist Rockwell Kent. Kent had many paintings inspired by Asgaard Farm that can be seen on the property. The farm is now owned by David Brunner and Rhonda Butler, who put the farm back into production in 2003. There is a farm store, you can visit the goats (all 44 of them), and there is even a place to stay if you would like to experience true farming life for a day or two. The Emerson House at Asgaard Farm is a gorgeous home designed and built by Kent. The home is available year round for short term rentals.
Upper Jay is located minutes from Whiteface Mountain and is home to Sugar House Creamery. This farm is made up of 23 acres and 12 brown Swiss cows. There are also bed and breakfasts at this farm, so stay the night and watch the sunsets while enjoying baked goods and fine cheeses from your porch. Visit in the spring for the Green Grass Get Down, and watch the cows come out to pasture for the first time of the season. If you are up early and craving an Adirondack style breakfast, do not miss the Adirondack Mountain Coffee Cafe. Known as an "Adirondack gem" and "food to die for," this quaint breakfast place is a must-visit but prepare for a wait, it will be worth it.
Follow the scenic road as the Ausable River flows along with you to Jay. While you are visiting Jay there are must see attractions like the Jay Covered Bridge. This bridge was constructed in 1857 and restored through the years. The 160-foot bridge crosses the Ausable River. Just upstream from the bridge is Jay Falls. The 20 foot falls can be viewed simply by walking across the bridge and looking through the bridge windows. This is a great photo op as well.
Feeling a bit more adventurous? Jay Mountain is a 2.5 mile hike with wide open views. Some of the views from the summit are the Green Mountain in Vermont, the Ausable River Valley, and the Adirondack High Peaks. Jay Mountain is within the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area — the smallest wilderness area in the Forest Preserve. There is a new trail constructed by the Department of Environmental Conservation that leads to the western end of the Jay Mountain ridge. At the top you will see the overlook area with gorgeous views.
The restaurants, hotels, and shopping are thriving in the mountain town of Wilmington. During your stay you won't want to miss breakfast at the Country Bear. OMG! This cute little local breakfast spot is not what you would expect. The food coming out of that small kitchen is savory, fresh, and worth a drive. My kids love the pancakes and the French toast.
Santa's Workshop is a short drive up the mountain for an afternoon of fun for all ages. Santa is there ready to take photos, and to make Santa hats complete with your name on the front. Watch the parade, and have a snack in Old Mother Hubbard's kitchen. Make sure to feed the reindeer while you are here. When you are done head down the road toward Lake Placid to the flume to cool off. Here you can take a quick dip in the Ausable River, just be sure to stay in the gentle water below the gorge, where there is a swimming hole and good views of three distinct waterfalls upstream. Pease make sure you are following the signs and using caution when swimming in the flume.
Now it's time for a drink (or two) and some delicious dinner. Head to Pourman's Tap House for some great craft beer and good conversation, or have a delicious meal at The Hungry Trout, a family owned restaurant in one of the most beautiful settings in the Whiteface Region.
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