Continuing north of Essex on Route 22, you’ll hug the lakeshore for a few glorious miles before heading inland to Willsboro, on the Bouquet River. Willsboro is a favorite spot among anglers thanks to its fish ladder at the Willsboro Dam. The ladder, off Route 22, allows landlocked salmon to ascend the river to spawning grounds farther upstream; you can watch the action from a viewing window.
Continue another 13 miles north and you’ll bump into Ausable Chasm (off Rte. 9, 518/834-7454, www.ausablechasm.com, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily June–Oct., adults $16, seniors and teens $14, children 5–11 $9). After the serene back roads and peaceful vistas of Lake Champlain, this place comes as a shock. Ausable Chasm is one of the oldest tourist attractions in the United States, opened in 1870; count on dozens of tour buses crowding its parking lot.
Carved out by the Ausable River over the past 500 million years, the Ausable Chasm’s massive stone gorge stretches out over a mile and a half. It is 20–50 feet wide, 100–200 feet deep, and is filled with odd rock formations, caves, rapids, and waterfalls. A three-quarter-mile trail leads through the gorge to Table Rock, where visitors can opt to take rafts the rest of the way ($8 per person).
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition