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Au Sable Forks: Winter at its peak

March 22, 2012
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Geographic features and political boundaries make the historic community of Au Sable Forks unique; visitors find it a perfect base camp for exploring the rugged Adirondack Mountains and the quaint countryside in the Lake Champlain valley.

Au Sable Forks is where two rivers, the East Branch and the West Branch, meet and simply become one Ausable River, flowing another 22 miles from here to Lake Champlain. The village of Au Sable Forks straddles two counties, with Essex on the southern shore of the Ausable River and Clinton on the northern shore.

The Essex County town of Jay offices and the Clinton County town of Black Brook offices are both located in Au Sable Forks.

In town, visitors can shop on the main street, go bowling at the Riverside Lanes or picnic in the Grove Road park on the southern shore of the Ausable River.?

To the east, the Lake Champlain valley awaits your arrival.

Take in the awesome sight of Ausable Chasm in Keeseville, the natural wonder of the Adirondacks ( Also known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," people can stroll past Rainbow Falls, Elephant's Head, Hyde's Cave and the eerie quiet of Mystic Gorge. Board a raft and float down the crystal waters of the Ausable River through a maze of breathtaking rock formations sculpted over the years by the river's currents.

Amateur naturalists will find ample opportunities to see wildlife on the Lake Champlain Birding Trail ( Nearby bird-watching sights include the Clintonville Pine Barrens, ?Port Douglas Boat Launch, the Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area, the Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area, the Ausable Point Campground, the Peru Dock Boat Launch and Valcour Island.

Also visit nearby scenic communities along the lakeshore, such as Willsboro and Port Kent. The state of Vermont is only a ferry ride away from Port Kent, which connects the traveling public to the city of Burlington (

To the west of Au Sable Forks, the Adirondack forest awaits your arrival.

Paddlers and anglers will find plenty of rivers, lakes and ponds in Essex and Franklin counties, including the East Branch of the Ausable River, the West Branch of the Ausable River, Lake Placid, the Chubb River, the Saranac River, the Saranac chain of lakes and the St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area.

Hikers and campers will find thousands of acres of state-owned Forest Preserve to explore, including the Taylor Pond Wild Forest, the Sentinel Range Wilderness Area, the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area, the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area, the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area and the High Peaks Wilderness Area (

History buffs will find several nearby museums, historic sights, and self-guided driving and walking tours ( The Friends of the North Country offers booklets titled "Historic Bridges of the Ausable" and the "Keeseville Walking Tour." There is a fire tower on top of Poke-O-Moonshine. Plus, Au Sable Forks is close to the historic villages of Elizabethtown, Jay, Upper Jay, Keene, Wilmington and Lake Placid.?

Nature lovers will find unique landscapes and habitats in the nearby Clintonville Pine Barrens and Silver Lake Bog, which are both Nature Conservancy preserves (

Best of all, the Ausable River valley and surrounding communities offer many opportunities for outdoor recreation: canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, boating, mountain biking, rock and ice climbing, nordic and alpine skiing, bird watching and other natural history activities.



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