Every twist and turn of the Ausable River provides a new perspective on one of this region’s scenic wonders. High Falls Gorge, a neighbor to Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, NY, is no exception. For those looking to experience the wild rush of the Ausable River, this nature park has everything you want, and then some!
The main attraction is, of course, the waterfalls. There are waterfalls all around the Adirondacks, but at High Falls Gorge, visitors are gifted views that are hard to come by. Sturdy bridges, walkways, and maintained trails provide safe access throughout the property. Certain paths are wheelchair accessible. Breathtaking beauty is all around.
High Falls Gorge has so much more to offer in addition to waterfalls! Check out these five facts you may not have known!
1. Hike through the forest
In addition to the bridges and walkways along the banks of the Ausable River and gorge, there is a separate 1-mile loop nature trail that explores some of the surrounding forest. This trail climbs 300 vertical feet, so hikers need to be prepared for a path with elevation gain and one that is not on a boardwalk. That said, the forest is very interesting and definitely worth a stroll through. Keep an eye out for the numerous hemlock trees on the property. Hemlocks can live to be over 100 years old!
2. The big apple and beyond
The rocks that make up the base of the gorge are actually the same rocks that were found on the moon! These rocks, called anorthosite, formed 15 miles below the surface of the Earth more than a billion years ago, but over the course of time, they have been pushed up to the surface. In a way, looking at these rocks is like looking back in time. Who knew geologic time-travelling could be so fun? Did you know some anorthosite from the Adirondacks now calls New York City home? To find out why, you’ll have to visit High Falls Gorge and find the answers on one of the many informative interpretive panels.
3. One step at a time
Once you leave the main building and cross the bridge over the Ausable River, you’ll find maintained paths and trails with educational signage. At the fourth sign, look across the river and you’ll see a stone structure. This spot actually marks the original entrance to High Falls Gorge. In 1890, you would have ever-so-carefully walked across a rope bridge to stand here. Today, the rope bridge no longer remains but visitors can still experience the awesome power of the Ausable River up close from study bridges and catwalks.
4. Did someone say snow?
High Falls Gorge is open in all seasons! That’s right, you can even visit when there’s snow on the ground. Each season offers something unique and spectacular. You might want to visit four times each year! For added safety in the water, complimentary Yaktrax traction devices are provided. These just slip on over your shoes. On the nature trail, you will need snowshoes, though, and they can be rented from High Falls Gorge. On weekends and holidays, there is even a campfire going with marshmallows available to roast. But if winter isn’t your thing, in spring, summer, and fall, you’ll still find the river and forest alive with activity. In the summer, you can access glass platforms that allow you to look down on the river below!
After all this adventuring, you may have worked up an appetite! Luckily, there is a delicious café onsite. The River View Café has an amazing Adirondack menu with something for everyone. There are daily specials, desserts, craft beers, and gluten-free options. Doesn’t a grilled veggie burger or maybe chicken wings with the signature maple chipotle sauce sound great for a post-walk meal?
High Falls Gorge is located at 4761 Route 86, Wilmington, NY. Rates and hours of operation can be found on their website. Remember: there is something for everyone at High Falls Gorge, even a few surprises not mentioned here! Go for a few hours or an entire day. You won’t be disappointed!