High Falls Gorge
Wilmington, New York
July 2005


High Falls Gorge is located 8 miles east of Lake Placid. The text below were lifted from their brochure.


High Falls Gorge is where the Ausable River, the ancient rocks of the Adirondacks and the forces of nature have created a place of unique beauty and interest. Steel bridges and groomed paths have been provided to give visitors vantage points from which to view this natural wonder. At the same time, they protect the gorge itself from the ravages of sometimes thoughtless man.


At this unique 22 acre privately owned park in the shadows of Whiteface Mountain you can watch the Ausable River as it rushes through deep crevices on its 700 foot journey past ancient granite cliffs formed over a billion years ago by the forces of ice, water and wind.


High Falls Gorge presents an ideal opportunity to observe the natural vegetation of the ancient Adirondacks. Long before the first settlers had arrived in this area, the woods had stabilized into what is called a "Mature Climax Forest." This type of forest is exemplified by wide open spaces between tall, mature trees with very little undergrowth. The first part of your walk is a classic example of a Climax forest. The predominant trees which make up this forest are the American Hemlock, the Red Spruce, the Yellow Birch, and the White Pine. A forest such as this will remain virtually unchanged for centuries unless altered by man.
Unfortunately, over one hundred years ago the vast majority of the trees of the Adirondacks were cut during mammoth logging operations. Most of the remaining trees were destroyed during the two country-wide forest fires in the early 1900s. This stand of forest in High Falls Gorge is one of the few remaining pieces of Virgin Forest in the Adirondacks.


The waters of the Ausable River are a direct reflection of the land through which it flows. The brownish color of the water is caused by the dissolved iron ore mineral from the surrounding mountains. Iron mining was a major source of employment in the Adirondacks during the entire 1800's and early 1900's, and only ceased when it became too expensive to bring up the iron from the deep mines. The iron ore, however, continues to exist in large quantities throughout the area and is constantly being dissolved and carried away by the flowing waters.


High Falls Gorge is composed of three basic and distinct rock types. Two are layered horizontally and the third vertically. Anorthosite is the base horizontal layer for not only the Gorge but the entire high peaks area of the Adirondacks. This bluish gray rock is over 1.5 billion years old and is rated as one of the oldest in the world. It is the same type of base rock as was found by our austronauts on their trip to the moon.
The next visible layer of horizontal rock in the gorge is Pink Granite. Geologists tell us that the granite was formed over five miles below the earth's surface at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Constant erosion from above and upheaval from below has forced the granite, with the Anorthosite, to surface. During this process, cracks were formed in the granite which are called faults. A third type of rock rose vertically like molten lava through these fault lines.
This soft, fine-grained black rock, called Basalt, cooled and hardened to form tabular dikes. Looking upstream, you can see the long narrow bands of black Basalt running through the granite parallel to the river.


High Falls Gorge trail map from www.highfallsgorge.com.