Winter wonders at Ausable Chasm and beyond

Cut into the landscape of the Adirondacks (literally!), Lake Champlain Region's Ausable Chasm is a geological marvel that captivates visitors year-round. While it's well-known for its summer adventures, this enchanting natural wonder transforms into a winter wonderland that's perfect for families and thrill-seekers alike. As the snow blankets the rugged terrain, guided tours along the rim of the chasm, with snowshoes or ice spikes in tow, offer a unique and beautiful way to experience the Ausable River's winding journey through the rocky canyon.

Embracing natural beauty

Ausable Chasm, often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks," is renowned for its stunning rock formations and the powerful Ausable River that has sculpted this impressive landscape over thousands of years. During the winter season, the chasm undergoes a breathtaking transformation as ice and snow envelop its dramatic terrain.

Visitors can partake in guided tours along the rim of the chasm, equipped with snowshoes or ice spikes to ensure a secure and memorable experience. The snowy vistas offer a unique perspective of the chasm, its frozen waterfalls, and the Ausable River winding its way through the chiseled rocks. The serenity of the winter landscape adds a magical touch to the already awe-inspiring scenery.

Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast or simply looking to immerse yourself in nature's beauty, a winter visit to Ausable Chasm promises an unforgettable adventure. The pristine snow-covered trails, the glistening ice formations, and the tranquil sounds of the flowing river create a mesmerizing atmosphere that's a world apart from the bustling summer season.

A wide view down into a chasm in winter. A red bridge spans the deep, snowy and icy river.
A rustic wood trail sign points to "Look Out Point"
A close-up view of iced waterfalls and river.

The gateway to winter adventures

Ausable Chasm is not only a destination in itself but also serves as a fantastic jumping-off point for other winter adventures in this historic part of the Adirondacks.

Lake Champlain, just a stone's throw away from Ausable Chasm, offers a myriad of winter activities. One of the most popular pastimes is ice fishing. The frozen expanse of the lake provides the perfect setting for anglers to try their luck at catching a variety of fish species beneath the ice. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, the experience of ice fishing on Lake Champlain is sure to be a memorable one. Not into fishing? No worries! Skating on the lake is popular, and the shore is always a great place for birding.

A stay at the historic Essex Inn

For those seeking a cozy retreat after a day of outdoor exploration, the historic Essex Inn in Essex, New York, is a perfect choice and is a short drive from Ausable Chasm. This charming inn, dating back to the 19th century, offers warm and inviting accommodations that perfectly complement the winter ambiance. The inn also boasts a cozy tavern where you can savor hearty meals and unwind by the fireplace. It's an excellent place to relax and recharge before your next adventure.

Image courtesy Essex Inn.

More winter adventures await

The Adirondacks are a paradise for winter enthusiasts, and Ausable Chasm is surrounded by a plethora of exciting activities. Here are a few more winter adventures to consider:

1. Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing on Champlain Area Trails

The Champlain Area Trails (CATS) offer a network of well-maintained trails ideal for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. As you explore the dense forests and open meadows, you'll encounter a range of wildlife and breathtaking vistas. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced skier, CATS has trails suitable for all skill levels.

2. Crown Point State Historic Site

For history buffs and explorers, a visit to Crown Point State Historic Site is a must. Here, you can delve into the ruins of two 18th-century forts, Fort St. Frederic and Fort Crown Point. In winter, the snow-covered landscape adds an extra layer of charm to the historic site, making it an engaging and picturesque destination for history and nature lovers. Nearby, spot the old lighthouse and the memorial statue to French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the lake's namesake.

A man and woman in winter clothing snowshoe through the stone ruins of an 18th century fort.

3. Ice Skating and Sledding

Embrace the season by enjoying the simple pleasures of ice skating and sledding. Lake Champlain and local outdoor rinks — like Ballard Park in Westport and Bicentennial Park in Ticonderoga — provide ample opportunities for ice skating, creating memories of gliding gracefully over frozen waters. Additionally, small hills in the area are perfect for a thrilling sledding adventure, a classic winter activity that brings out the child in all of us.

4. Birding in the Adirondacks

The Lake Champlain Region is a haven — and is justifiably famous for — birding, and the winter season offers unique opportunities to observe a variety of avian species. The Adirondack Park is home to numerous year-round residents and migratory birds, and you'll have the chance to witness their adaptability to the cold season. Grab your binoculars and camera, and explore the wilderness for a chance to spot some of these beautiful creatures.

A winter visit to Ausable Chasm and its surrounding areas is an enchanting experience that will leave you with lasting memories. Whether you're navigating the chasm's snowy trails, exploring the history of the region, or enjoying the tranquility of the Adirondack wilderness, the winter season unveils a different facet of this remarkable destination. So, bundle up, embrace the icy wonders of the season, and embark on an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the Adirondacks.


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