When people think of Wilmington, New York, most people think of Whiteface Mountain, the fifth largest mountain in the Adirondacks. In the wintertime, pilgrimages are made to ski the greatest vertical drop on the east coast. But what about the warmer months? Wilmington is considered to be the "mountain bike capital of the Adirondacks" and features a wide variety of riding at two trail networks: Hardy Road and the Flume. From old-school-style trails with rocks and routes to more friendly flow trails, Wilmington has something to offer everyone. Here are 5 reasons why you need to bike in the Whiteface Region.
1. Wicked cool trails
Hardy Road also known as Beaver Brook, was the first mountain bike-specific trail system built in the Adirondack Park. With 12-miles of trail, Hardy Road is one of the largest trail systems in the area. It also boasts one of the longest continuous trails at 2.8 miles called All In, which overlooks Whiteface Mountain and the Ausable Valley.
The Flume Trails is the original network of trails that established Wilmington as the mountain biking capital of the Adirondacks. To add to its allure, the network also has the greatest mileage of any network in the area. The lower trails are smooth and have gentle ups and downs. For more of a challenge, take to the upper trails. As you gain elevation, the terrain becomes increasingly difficult. No matter what you choose, the Flume is bound to keep you entertained. Don't forget to cross the road to view the famous waterfall the network is named after.
Poor Man's Downhill is a 3-mile trail that descends 1,200 vertical feet on an old snowmobile trail from the Whiteface Memorial Highway to the hamlet below.. It was originally named for the cash-strapped riders who couldn't pay for chairlifts at Whiteface. A local bar and restaurant called Pourman's Taphouse even pays homage to the trail. Bikers regularly shuttle the trail from the parking area near the intersection of the Whiteface toll road and Gillespie drive and charge down at breakneck speeds to the finish at Up a Creek Restaurant. The town of Wilmington honors its legacy by offering dirt-cheap shuttle rides (usually $5/person/day) a couple of times during the summer.
For more information about trails, trailheads, and everything about mountain biking in the Whiteface Region, check out this mountain biking guide.
2. Rich mountain bike culture
Wilmington is a small town, but that hasn't stopped it from cultivating a strong mountain bike culture. It hasn't earned the title "mountain bike capital of the Adirondacks" for no reason. What the area offers in ridable terrain has translated into a local subculture that is hard to beat. On Friday evenings at 6 pm, local mountain bike enthusiasts gather for "Hardy Hour" at the Hardy Road trails. The ride culminates at the top of All In, where riders socialize and enjoy a drink, BYOB (bring your own beverage) style. Anybody can join these rides, even if you are just visiting. In fact, it's encouraged! There is no better way to get to know an area than to ask a local. Not here on a Friday? No problem. Head to the Wilmington Bike Park, commonly referred to as "the pump park", where you will likely find a local playing at the pump track, dirt jumps, and skills park. This is a great place for kids and adults alike to test their skills and is an incredible community resource that would have never become a reality without the help of so many. The story behind this cool mountain bike space is a testament to the vibrant mountain bike culture in the Whiteface Region.
3. Bike-friendly lodging
The Whiteface Mountain KOA is a conveniently located campground for all your explorations. The campground is less than 1-mile away from the Flume Trails, which means you can ride right from your tent to the network with the greatest mileage in the area. Simple cabins are also available here if camping doesn't suit your style. If you are looking for more traditional lodging, you can still stay close to all the action at one of the area's hotels, motels, or bed and breakfasts. Explore these listings to find the lodging accommodations with the specific amenities that are perfect for you. No matter where you choose, views of the High Peaks will be right outside your door.
4. Swim spots
Cool off after your ride at one of the area's fantastic swimming spots. Before you go, grab a sandwich from the deli at the Little Supermarket, so you can enjoy a picnic and stay awhile. Here are 3 places to check out: Lake Everest, Jay Covered Bridge, and Mirror Lake.
Lake Everest, also known as the Town Beach, is a slow-moving part of the Ausable River with a sandy beach, picnic tables, a pavilion, tons of birds, and a fishing platform. You can even rent aqua bikes, paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes right on the beach. This gem is the closest swimming hole to both of the mountain biking trailheads and is a local favorite. Don't miss out on the mountain views!
Another favorite swimming hole is at the Jay Covered Bridge, just a short 10-minute drive from the Flume and Hardy Road trailheads. Sunbathe on the large flat rocks above the falls or take a dip in one of the deep holes for a truly unique experience. Currently, there are only two covered bridges left in the Adirondacks, so this is a spot you don't want to miss.
The last swimming spot is also the furthest away, but it's easy to get to and it only takes 20-minutes to get there. Plus, it gives you an excuse to drive "The Notch," the scenic section of Route 86 between Wilmington and Lake Placid. Winding roads hug the West Branch of the Ausable River and transport you to the Mirror Lake Public Beach, famous for its calm, pristine waters and unspoiled views of the mountains.
5. Après-bike locations
Après-biking is the ultimate way to end any day in the saddle. Hang out, share adventure stories, and refuel at one of these neighborhood restaurants and celebrate Wilmington's legacy. Pourman's Taphouse is the place that brings the town together and is named after the trail called Poorman's Downhill. This place is filled with good drinks, great food, and only good vibes. For an outdoor dining option, grab a sandwich from the deli at the Little Supermarket. This place is a local mom & pop shop with a little bit of everything and is a staple for locals and hungry visitors alike. You can enjoy your food right behind the store at the Wilmington Bike Park, where there are plenty of picnic benches and you can get close to all the mountain biking action.
Wilmington may be known as a mountain biking town, but it's also a highly acclaimed fly-fishing destination. The W. Branch of the Ausable River flows right through the trailhead at the Flume Trails and is home to some of the best fly-fishing east of the Mississippi. R.F. McDougall’s Pub is steps away from the Flume Trails, making it the perfect adventure-dining pairing. As if stunning views of the river and the celebration of local history weren't enough, R.F. McDougall’s Pub was also voted as one of 'America's Top 25 Best Fishing Bars' in Outdoor Life Magazine.