The communities of the Whiteface Region
The Whiteface Region is defined by its communities, characterized by their uniqueness and charm. While tied to one another by the rivers and mountains that make up the landscape, the communities have their own set of qualities that give you a good reason to set aside time for each of them. Get close to these destinations, and read on to learn more about what makes them special!
The tight knit community of Wilmington takes pride in the outdoor recreation opportunities afforded by Whiteface Mountain and the West Branch of the Ausable River, whose valley is where the town is located. Leading up from the heart of town, visitors travel over 2,000 vertical feet on the Whiteface Memorial Highway, bringing them to the top of the mountain. The combination of the castle-topped summit, scenic drive through New York’s rarest ecosystem, and the possibility for a view of the skyscrapers in Montreal (you heard that right!), make this a uniquely Wilmington experience. The mountain feeds the West Branch Ausable River below, a world-class stretch of water for both fly fishing and whitewater kayaking. You don’t need to be an expert fly fisher or whitewater kayaker, since the river runs through town and slows down, forming what’s known as Lake Everest. A popular beach, you can soak up the sun or take one of the free kayaks or paddle boards for a spin. On a hot day, you can head right from the beach to Whitebrook Dairy Bar for an ice cream! Wilmington is an amazing place for every recreationist looking for either a thrilling adventure on kayaks and mountain bikes, or a relaxing day on the water and a drive up the Whiteface Memorial Highway.
A small mountain town, the peace and quiet in Jay is refreshing. Driving through Jay, you’ll notice the Village Green right off the road, which hosts fantastic, free live music on summer nights. Jay Entertainment and Music Society has a large hand in these events, and they organize concerts throughout the year that take place both outdoors on the Green or inside at the Amos and Julia Ward Theater. Adjacent to the Green is the Jay Craft Center, where they not only display their own hand painted and fire pottery, but also feature other locals artists and their works, many of which have studios close by. Quite possibly the most unique swimming hole in the Adirondacks is also a walk away from the Village Green. Walking across the historic Jay Covered Bridge, originally built in the mid-1800s, you can explore the small falls and pools of the Ausable River underneath and upstream of the Bridge. It’s one of the best mid-summer experiences in the park, and can be combined with a picnic at the adjacent Douglas Memorial Park.
A thriving arts center, unique local food options, and access to wilderness are what make Upper Jay special. Right at the tight curve that follows the flow of the Ausable River is the Recovery Lounge, a performance space run by the Upper Jay Arts Center. A gathering place for everything from concerts and plays, to poetry readings and art exhibits, the events here are an opportunity to witness talented local artists sharing their passion. Everything Upper Jay does is done with heart, and it shows not just in the Arts Center, but also in places like the Sugar House Creamery, Ice Jam Inn & Restaurant, and Adirondack Mountain Coffee Cafe. Quality is key at these local favorites. All less than a mile from each other, you can grab a mug of fresh coffee, some fresh food for a lunch sandwich at the Creamery’s farm store, and a top-notch dinner at Ice Jam. A short drive from these spots in Upper Jay is the wilderness area that shares its name with the town, the Jay Mountain Wilderness. Although just one trail exists in this part of the Forest Preserve, it’s inarguably one of the best. With the proper fuel of coffee and fresh sandwich ingredients, you can make your way up Jay Mountain to the first scenic viewpoint, or all the way across this classic, rocky Adirondack ridge line.
Au Sable Forks
While the aforementioned communities of the Whiteface Region are situated on either the East or West Branch of the river, Au Sable Forks is at the confluence of, well, the Ausable! It's a true gateway to the Adirondack Mountains, where these two mighty rivers start. It’s a must-stop area for preparing for an adventure, and for unwinding after a big hike or a day on the water. Hometown Deli has the best daily specials in the area, frequently mixing it up between breakfast and lunch deals. Grab some snacks there as well, and you're good to go for a day full of adventure. Post-adventure, Au Sable Forks has spots like Lance’s Place for pizza, and 20 Main for that classic, small town tavern feel. 20 Main is a community center point, with frequent live music and entertainment, often outdoors, and there’s no better thing to do after an Adirondack adventure than grabbing a drink and relaxing to some local music. If you're interested in diving deeper into the area's arts and culture, the Tahawus Cultural Center (right across the road from 20 Main), hosts an ever-changing art gallery, along with an assortment of classes at their Cloudsplitter Dance Studio. Before you leave, swing by Asgaard Farm & Dairy, one of the most scenic local farms. Sustainably producing some of the freshest farm grown and raised food in the region, a stop by the farm store for some of the best Adirondack grown foods from Au Sable Forks is a must!
Each of the communities in the Whiteface Region has incredibly unique accommodations. Consider staying a bit longer, and creating lasting connections with the region through recreation, dining, and everything in between!