AUSABLE CHASM — AuSable Chasm continues its efforts to provide visitors with a variety of outdoor experiences.
AuSable Chasm Manager Tim Bresett said the Rappelling Adventure Tour opened earlier this year. The attraction presently features two rappelling sections and two Tyrolean traverses, fixed lines between two points used to cross an elevation.
He said the new features satisfied a customer demand.
“We had a lot of people looking for something a little more demanding,” Bresett said.
He said the attraction was designed and built by Judd Arnold, who will also be guiding the tours. The tour starts with a 30-foot rappel, which helps gauge how comfortable and confident each participant is with the experience.
That is followed by a 150-foot Tyrolean traverse on a cable 60 feet above the chasm floor. Arnold said some guests have told him they prefer the traverse to a zip line, as they can stop and hang out in the middle of the line to take in the scenery or take pictures or video.
Next is a short hike to the top of the long rappel, 80 feet down to the edge of the river on the chasm floor.
For now, guests then hike to the top of the chasm to access the long Tyrolean traverse. It is 200 feet long and 130 feet above the river, with scenic views upriver to where the raft and tubing rides start.
Arnold said they intend to install a via ferrata system to allow guests to climb back to the top of the chasm. It combines a series of metal rungs with a cable alongside to which the climber is attached for safety.
The Rappelling Adventure Tour can be enjoyed even during high water and winter. The only time it’s not is when a thunderstorm is in the area.
Bresett said they plan to expand the number of features in the future, including rope bridges, traverses, rappels and via ferattas.
The AuSable Chasm disc golf course will expand to 18 holes in the near future. AuSable Chasm Recreation Director Chuck Fries is really into the sport and brings ideas from the various courses he plays while away.
Players pay $5 for a day pass, which includes disc golf, use of the campground swimming pool and trail system.
Bresett said he is especially looking forward to one upcoming event, the Steady Ed Safari sponsored by the Disc Golf Association. It will consist of the holes on the regular AuSable Chasm disc golf course and 18 holes on a temporary course set up in the chasm itself.
Players are asked to pre-register by Aug. 31 at www.discgolfscene.com or at the AuSable Chasm Campground Office at 834-9990.
AuSable Chasm also offers mountain biking. Bresett said the folks at Mountain Riders cycling shop in the City of Plattsburgh groomed the trails and rents bikes at the AuSable Chasm Campground.
There are now about five miles of trails, from double-wide paths for beginners and intermediates to narrow, twisting trails for experts.
Bresett said the Chasm Riders race series takes place on Sunday mornings. There are three age divisions for children and beginners, intermediate and expert divisions for adults.
The trails are also available for hiking, walking, running, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Winter tours remain popular, whether by snowshoe or simply walking. It can be exhilarating to see the chasm walls covered in ice.
”We’re looking forward to another season,” Bresett said.
While it still requires a guide to enter the actual chasm, there is a now a self-guided option available.
Tubing and rafting remain a big draw, Bresett said. It has really grown since they switched to rubber rafts after the twin floods of 1996, with tens of thousands of people coming just for that every year.
There are now five miles of trails in and around the rim of the chasm, Bresett said. A new trail system takes hikers through two dry chasms, which Bresett said are similar to slot canyons.
The Lantern Tour remains quite popular, he said, with guests provided a lantern and guided to the chasm floor. They have even been able to hold their campfire on Table Rock.
AuSable Chasm offers wagon rides, using a 1952 Ford tractor to tow a wagon around the trails.
”People love it,” Breset said.
AuSable Chasm has partnered with the Lake Champlain Basin Program and AuSable River Association on a series of new interpretive signs.
There is also a new smartphone app that provides audio and video that will go live sometime this fall. “Voices from the Past” will provide a look back to the chasm’s start as a tourist attraction in the late 1800s, and include photographs by Seneca Ray Stoddard and others.
“It will feature text from that era. It is very colorful language,” Bresett said.
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