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High Falls Gorge

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Wilmington, New York - December 18, 2008

The wind is blowing and the clouds are swirling over High Falls Gorge in Wilmington, N.Y.

But inside the cozy confines of the visitor center it's nice and warm.

And it's here that every trip to the gorge begins.

Proper footwear is a necessity.

"So these are yak tracks. They're basically snow tires for your feet," explains Kathryn Reiss of High Falls Gorge.

Tourists have been visiting High Falls Gorge since the 1890s.

The half-mile long hike features several cascading waterfalls as the majestic west branch of the Ausable River tumbles north toward Canada.

"Right now it's beautiful and full," Reiss says.

Once just a summer attraction-- the gorge is now open-year round, no matter the weather.

"We have two snow blowers here and then it's a lot of shovel work where there's stairs," Reiss says.

"This is a climax forest. It's an original Adirondack forest. It hasn't been harvested and it hasn't burned," Reiss explains. "I think I'm going to put a hat on because it's awful cold. The wind doesn't help."

The half-mile long hike takes about 45 minutes as the path travels from one waterfall to another.

"I think the drama of it all; the artistry of it all is just amazing," Reiss says. "It really is beautiful, along with the power of the water coming down."

The ice storm of 1998 almost closed the popular attraction forever. Freezing rain covered everything with ice; trees toppled, crushing bridges, walkways and fences.

Ironically -- the ice is what now draws people here during the winter months.

Reiss says, "We turned a very dramatic experience into a whole new adventure for High Falls Gorge."

Angelo Greco of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., agrees.

"It's really amazing to see, to be up close to such a cool waterfall," he says.

The walkways allow visitors to get up close and personal with the falls.

"Over a million gallons of water flows through the gorge every day," Reiss explains.

A perspective you'll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

"The drama of that waterfall and the power of it is just amazing," Reiss says.

Winter at its finest-- in beautiful High Falls Gorge.

It costs $13.50 to visit the gorge during the winter and the experience includes a bonfire on weekends.

For more information on High Falls Gorge and on visiting the Wilmington area-- including directions-- click here.

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

Click here to see more Destination Recreation stories.

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