New York City's Central Park is familiar to many people, even if they have never been to the City. It has been the location for many TV series and movies. To the locals, it is an escape away from the concrete and noise of Manhattan and to visitors, its lakes, bridges and hidden paths are a welcome change. We have been to Central Park on several occassions and have got to know it quite well, but on every visit we find something new to explore.
Whilst travelling to see some friends in Lake Placid we had some time to kill so we decided to visit Ausable Chasm – a natural wonder on the Ausable River which runs through the Adirondack mountains into Lake Champlain that has been dubbed with the moniker “The Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”. Three or four miles short of the Lake Champlain the Ausable River has cut through the red sandstone, creating a deep ravine. Ausable Chasm itself is only 2-miles long (3.2km) and offers some spectacular scenery along its route.
The first stop is the visitor centre (you’ll need to go here to get tickets) which has excellent facilities and a gift shop. It’s also where you can learn about both the geological and tourist history of Ausable Chasm.
1. RAINBOW FALLS
Rainbow Falls is an impressive, 91-foot drop, waterfall located at the head of the Ausable Chasm. You can get a great view of the falls from the Route 9 bridge.
You can get a closer look at the falls and peer over the brink from the path that leads from the Ausable Chasm visitor centre
2. ELEPHANT HEAD VISTA
Before setting off down the Chasm river walk trail there is a short trail that leads to a viewpoint called ‘Elephant Head Vista’ named after a rock formation that sits along Ausable Chasm that has a remarkable resemblance to an elephant’s head. You can’t see this from the rim trail so it is worth taking the 1/4 mile stroll to the viewpoint.
After checking out the ‘Elephant’s Head’ we set off for a walk along the Riverwalk Trail that runs along the Chasm just feet above the churning waters of the Ausable River. It was a wonderful, clear day and the sun glistened off the white, bubbling water running through the chasm. The Chasm is about 30 feet wide for much of its length and climbs vertically 70 feet above the water. Apparently, there have been times when the water levels have climbed to within 20 feet of the top of the Chasm and taken away bridges and metal structures as if they were made of matchsticks (would have liked to have seen that). The trail is a mix of terra firma and man-made boardwalks. It does go up and down, is narrow in places and has stairs – so it is definitely not wheelchair friendly.
4. RAFTING & TUBING
About 2/3 of the way along the riverwalk there is the option to climb back up to the rim trail or continue downstream on the river on an inflatable tube or raft.
A day or two before our arrival there had been some powerful storms pass through upstate New York, dropping a lot of rain. This had resulted in the water levels in the Chasm rising, so tubing was off the cards (we also had not brought our swimsuits along).
Instead, we took the raft trip down the watercourse. The increased water levels made for a more exciting raft trip through the narrow gorge. Not exactly white water rafting, but it was fun. The ‘ride’ only take a few minutes but was a good ending.
From the raft drop off point you can choose to walk back along the rim trail or catch a bus to the visitor centre.
5. THE ADVENTURE TRAIL
For the more daring there is another option for exploring the Chasm; the Adventure Trail. This family-friendly trail explores the upper Ausable Chasm that is not accessible from any other trail. The via ferrata route crisscrosses over the raging river and features cable bridges, a cargo net climb, and edge walks. A via ferrata is a protected climbing route characterized by a steel cable that runs along the rock, offering a unique and awe-inspiring journey through the chasm. If you’ve always wanted to experience rock climbing, but never actually learned to do it, our adventure trail is perfect for you.
To do the Adventure trail you must have a minimum reach of 63″ (160 cm), weigh between 50-250 pounds (23 to 144 kg), and have a maximum waist size of 54” (137 cm).
In Summary …
- Allow 2 to 3 hours for your visit.
- The weather in Upstate New York is hard to predict so come prepared for a bit of everything!
Planning your visit to Ausable Chasm
|Address:||1 2144 U.S. 9, Ausable Chasm, NY 12911|
|Telephone:||T: (518) 834-7454|
Spring: April 3 – June 24 9:00-4:00
Best time to visit Lake Champlain / Ausable Chasm
Average temperatures in Plattsburgh, New York vary an incredible amount. Considering humidity, temperatures feel cold for about half of the year and otherwise nice with a chance of rain or snow throughout most of the year. The area is less temperate than some — in the 34th percentile for pleasant weather — compared to tourist destinations worldwide. Weeks with ideal weather are listed above. If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Plattsburgh, the hottest months are July, August, and then September. See average monthly temperatures below. The warmest time of year is generally early August where highs are regularly around 83.2°F (28.4°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 62.8°F (17.1°C) at night.
Other places to visit around Ausable Chasm
1. THE STAR TREK ORIGINAL SERIES SET TOUR
If you are travelling through upstate New York you might want to take a trip into the small town of Ticonderoga to visit the Star Trek Original Series Set-Tour. You might ask why is it in Ticonderoga – and you’ll need to go for yourself to find out! This is not just a place for Trekkies to visit it is a fascinating insight into TV history. its authenticity has been confirmed by members of the original cast, including William Shatner (Captain James T Kirk) who makes regular visits here.
2. FORT TICONDEROGA
Fort Ticonderoga in Upstate New York has a long and colourful history and was at different times occupied by the French, British and American Revolutionary forces. Its position overlooking Lake Champlain, a significant waterway connecting the St Lawrence River to the Hudson River system made it a strategic location to control the movement of goods and military during times of war. Today, it is a beautifully restored museum and tourist attraction for history buffs and families alike.
Where to stay near Ausable Chasm
1. AUSABLE CHASM CAMPGROUND
The Ausable Chasm campgrounds are located right next the Chasm with easy access to the trail system. There are spots for camping and RVs. In addition there are cabins available to rent.
As well as walking the 25 plus miles of trails there are plenty of other activites to pass away the time, including; swimming, playgrounds, shuffleboard, basketball, volleyball and disc golf. Don’t forget to bring the bikes and enjoy mountain biking the trails.
2. LA QUINTA – PLATTSBURGH
3. BEST WESTERN PLUS THE INN AT SMITHFIELD
This New York hotel offers free shuttle service to the airport and the rail or bus station. There is an on-site restaurant and indoor heated pool. Just a 10-minute drive from Plattsburgh International Airport, it provides free Wi-Fi in every room.
Best Western Plus the Inn at Smithfield is equipped with a 24-hour gym. Guests can also enjoy the game room.
The 99 Pub and Restaurant at Inn at Smithfield Best Western Plus offers American cuisine in a casual atmosphere.