Submitted by guest blogger, Doug Haney/CycleADK. Photos provided by Cycle Adirondacks/Pure ADK.
It’s no secret: The Adirondacks is a fabulous place to ride a bike. The area features miles and miles of low-traffic back roads and wide-shouldered main thoroughfares. But if you have to pick one location as a base for your first Adirondack road cycling experience, you’ll want to “Get Close” to Wilmington.
This region has the best of everything. It’s why Cycle Adirondacks features Wilmington on so many of its bike tours, including this summer’s Ultimate Cycling Vacation, recently named one of the “Best Supported Bike Tours in the Country” by Outside Magazine.
But, if one of their tours doesn’t line up with your schedule, here are three Wilmington-based loops that will check all your favorite road cycling buckets.
There’s a reason a variation of this loop is featured on the annual Ride for the River, which benefits the stewardship and conservation work of the Ausable River Association: it’s simply breathtaking. There are a few places to start and finish this incredible 30-mile loop, but none better than the Historic Jay Covered Bridge on Route 22, where a dip in the friendly waterfalls awaits your aching post-ride feet. Starting here also places the toughest climb at the beginning of the ride and saves the best downhills for the end.
Riding clockwise, you’ll be rewarded with countless breathtaking views, first as you pedal the rolling terrain along the Ausable River (especially on Haselton Road), and later of magnificent peak panoramas as you ride Sheldrake Road. Be sure to stop at Asgaard Farm & Dairy just after you pass through Ausable Forks and Sugar House Creamery in Upper Jay. Leave some room in your jersey pockets for cheese.
For something that fits nicely into a small window of time, gets your heart pumping, and is chock-full of those classic Adirondack downhills that make you say “wheeeeee,” this 20-mile spin is for you.
Like the Perfect 30, you can start this loop from pretty much anywhere along the route, but if post-ride beverages while overlooking the beautiful Flume waterfalls on the Ausable River sounds appealing to you, then the Hungry Trout is the place for you.
The last five miles of this ride are really special: the perfect rolling terrain of Hardy Road and a head-on view of stunning Whiteface Mountain as you cruise the protected bike lane of Fox Farm Road back to the Hungry Trout.
If going big is your thing, then the Round the Mountain loop—the mountain being Whiteface—is for you. At about 65 miles, you’ll definitely earn a post-ride root beer float, which is why you should start this one right in the heart of Wilmington where any number of burger, ice cream or beverage options are steps away the moment you click out of your pedals.
The good news is the biggest climbs are early in the day, but you’ll find the terrain rolling with beautiful Bonnieview Road setting the cadence from your first pedal strokes out of Wilmington.
The first 30 miles of this route is absolute back road bliss, carrying you along the backside of Whiteface into Franklin Falls. From there, local favorite River Road leads into Bloomingdale, where you can choose to beeline Route 3 into Saranac Lake or take the scenic route through Gabriels. Reward yourself for choosing the longer route when you pass the deservedly famous Donnelly’s ice cream stand. You get your choice of one flavor a day, usually twisted with vanilla.
After Saranac Lake, it’s on to Lake Placid, where views of the towering ski jumps built for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games come just before a second (but just as amazing) ride down River Road. You’ll follow the winding banks of the Ausable River downstream before making a right onto Route 86, this time riding by the front side of Whiteface, as you return to Wilmington.
While each of these routes is world-class, one of the best parts about them is where you’ll find yourself once you get off your bike. No matter whether you’re visiting the Whiteface Region for a long weekend or an extended vacation, there’s no end to the adventures that await.