The Wilmington Notch is a narrow stretch of land between Lake Placid and Wilmington that has been carved out over many thousands of years by the West Branch Ausable River. The scenic drive along Route 86, which parallels the river, offers an abundance of great views, fishing holes, and hiking trails.
Several notable waterfalls form as the river winds its way through the Notch. One such waterfall is Wilmington Notch Falls, a 40- to 50-foot cascade that forms on the West Branch Ausable River near Whiteface Mountain.
There are two approaches to the base of the falls. One is a light footpath that takes you through the forest along the river. The other is a much easier and open trail that follows a small slope of Whiteface Mountain to the start of the West Branch Nature Trail.
Parking for the trail is in the large parking lot for Whiteface Mountain Ski Center. Hikers will cross the bridge that spans the river and proceed left through the ski center. A faint, unmarked trail leads into the woods along the river. Follow this trail until it intersects with the West Branch Nature Trail, which is a red-blazed trail that leads away from the ski center. Following the trail down to the river will bring you to the top of the falls, which has limited views of the main body of the waterfall.
To get to the base of the falls, double back slightly and follow the footpath a short distance left, where it will lead to a large rock formation and continue steeply down and left on tricky footing. Once at the bottom, the falls will be in view. Use caution as the rocks are very slippery.
Once at the base of the falls, hikers will see a small waterfall across the river on a stream that runs through the Wilmington Notch Campground. A lookout used by guests of the campground will also be visible above the small waterfall.
To return to the ski center, hikers can follow the footpath back out or follow the West Branch Nature Trail back to the open slopes of Whiteface Mountain.