Central NY Hiking at Whetstone Gulf State Park via Wellnesste Lodge

Enjoying a Beautiful Hike During Your Cabin Rental Vacation at Wellnesste Lodge in Taberg, NYWhetstone Gulf State Park / 6065 West Rd. / Lowville, NY 13367 Distance from Wellnesste Lodge & Cabin Rentals: 38 Miles

Whetstone Gulf State Park NY
Whetstone Gulf State Park NY
Whetstone Gulf State Park via Wellnesste Lodge Cabin Rentals (Gorge 3)
Whetstone Gulf State Park via Wellnesste Lodge Cabin Rentals (Gorge 3)

Whetstone Gulf State Park is less than 40 miles from your cozy cabin rental at Wellnesste Lodge. Following scenic country roads from Taberg, NY to Lowville, NY this state park offers a variety of outdoor activities for individuals and families. Situated on the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau, this park is a wonderful spot for Wellnesste Lodge cabin rental guests to take in a day hike and explore over 2,400 acres of scenic New York forest, rivers and waterfalls.

Park History: The Park was enjoyed by early settlers in Upstate NY starting in the early 1800's. Local oral history reports that the gorge was an active part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War era. This is easy to imagine as the gorge's location is secluded and would have made a fine place to seek refuge while enjoying the bounty that Mother Nature provided (food and water) to live on. Over the generations, the area was recognized for its natural beauty and significance, the State of New York eventually made it into park of the state park system for all to enjoy.

Whetstone Gulf State Park 

Whetstone Gulf State Park 

Origin of the Whetstone Gulf Name: A Whetstone is generally a smooth rock used to sharpen knives. Although I couldn't confirm it with the rangers, I surmised that the Whetstone name came from the fact that the gorge in the park is comprised of shale and other smooth rocks that were used as whetstones in the early days. The "gulf" portion of the name comes from the fact that the park encompasses a 3 mile long gorge which is cut by Whetstone Creek (which is a raging river by most standards, especially in Spring following the snowmelt of infamous portions).

This gorge is acclaimed as one of the most spectacular scenic vistas east of the Rocky Mountains. You can see the dark grey slate that seems to make up much of the gorge wall as you hike high above on of the park's trails. In addition to these rock formations, there are limestone deposits in the region which have had a reputation for serving as both shelter during the Underground Railroad days and as sinkholes for capturing farm animals. One local farmer purportedly lost several cows to an unstable limestone cavern and consequently destroyed the entrance to said cavern.

Hiking at Whetstone Gulf State Park: The main trails (named North Trail and South Trail) rim the gorge in a 5 mile loop that has a climb of perhaps one to two thousand feet... enough for a great workout, but not so tough that the whole family can't enjoy.

We advise our cabin rental guests that they wear adequate hiking boots, bring a walking stick and to be sure to bring a camera. Because the trails rim the gorge, there are warning signs along the route to remind everyone not to get too close to the edge. Speaking from experience, there is a precipitous drop in several areas so kids need to mind there parents at all times.

My exploration was on April 25th and thus it was a spring time adventure. Surprisingly, when I began my assent snow flurries, followed by sleet greeted me. Within an hour of my hike, the sun began to shine over the horizon onto the Northern Trail which felt wonderful. Most of the trail was free of standing snow except for at the highest elevation where small pines shaded the trail and thus left about 18" of snow to hike through for a short spell.

With the melting snow came a fair share of mud and standing water to avoid, but the effort was well worth it. I enjoyed stands of sponge-like moss and their lime green coloring as a contrast against the snow. I also witnessed Trout Lilly leaves poking through the detritus on the ground in an effort to capture the sunlight while it was available and cooperative.

Here are a few more highlights and things that I loved about this park and what it had to offer.

• The Red Pines, Norway Spruce and Eastern Hemlocks made the air smell fresh and sweet. These conifers combined with copious snow reminded me of my many hikes in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

• The initial climb of the North Trail admittedly made me huff a bit (I was out of shape after a long winter), but not so much that I wanted to turn back. The climb was well worth while as within thirty minutes I was well above the gorge and enjoying beautiful vistas.

• The sights and sounds of migratory birds filled the trip and I enjoyed seeing special avian friends such as Redpolls, Brown Creepers, Wood Ducks, Thrushes and a Bald Eagle.

• The lingering thought of potentially seeing a Black Bear made the sense of "adventure" all that more exciting. Although they are fairly rare, these Ursus are native in the area and I must admit that just that fact alone made me more attentive to my surroundings. Alas, I didn't see any bears, but perhaps next time around!

• The whirling white blades of Lowville's famous wind farm in the distance as I reached the half way point of my hike. Seen through the pine trees, I could spot at least 30 of these slow swirling white giants that were passively harvesting what nature provides each and everyday on these ridgelines- wind power.

• The multitude of water features. The gorge no doubt is the highlight and the thundering roar was so loud at times it drowned out all other sounds in the area. In addition to the obvious namesake of the park, I crossed at least 5 small streams that originated in the highlands and trickled by me to a foreboding plunge into the gorge below. These streams thus made up waterfalls of various sizes and were all over 100 feet high... very cool stuff indeed!

Whetstone Gulf State Park via Wellnesste Lodge Cabin Rentals (North Trail 11)
Whetstone Gulf State Park via Wellnesste Lodge Cabin Rentals (North Trail 11)

Although I didn't get there this time around, above the gorge lies the Whetstone Reservoir which is a 500 acre lake. Cabin rental guests at Wellnesste Lodge who enjoy fishing, can venture out to this lake which is stocked with tiger Muskie and large-mouth bass. The lake is also a popular spot for cabin getaway canoeing and kayaking. I intend to return there with my kayak one day for further exploration.

As I ended my hike and made my way back to the parking area close to the Ranger's quarters, I spoke to the local Park Ranger who informed me that park remains open in the winter for snowshoeing. I imagine that a hearty snowshoe hike during a Cabin Rental Adventure through 3-6 feet of Tug Hill Plateau snow along the gorge rim would also be a worthwhile promenade. Something else to put on the bucket list!

In closing, this is a trip worth taking. A great hike, beautiful scenery, copious water features and the great outdoors... all the things that make life worth living. Wellnesste, Christophe

River Tubing Adventure in Central New York

Tubin’ on the “Mighty Fish” It’s late July and it’s 101 degrees… bloody hot. If it were any more humid, you could slice the air with a butter knife. As we step out of our cozy little cabin at Wellnesste Lodge in Taberg, NY we all begin to sweat profusely. Is there relief in sight? Yes… the Mighty Fish is a’callin’.

Thoreau's Cabin- Cabin Rentals at Wellnesste Lodge in Taberg NY
Thoreau's Cabin- Cabin Rentals at Wellnesste Lodge in Taberg NY
River Tubing fun in Central New York at Wellnesste Cabin Rentals in Taberg NY
River Tubing fun in Central New York at Wellnesste Cabin Rentals in Taberg NY

Wellnesste is blessed with over a half mile of river frontage on the East Branch of Fish Creek (a.k.a. “The Mighty Fish). Its creek surname is deceiving… this is no tame little creek… it’s a beautiful crystal clear river that’s rushes year round with cool mountain waters. In the spring and early summer the river is known for its radical swirls that attract wild whitewater kayaking enthusiasts from around the country. But from mid summer on, the crazy whitewater subsides enough to greet guests laughing and hooting on tubes while enjoying its refreshing waters.

As we head off from our cabin, we have a short walk to the waterfront where the owners have cut trails for accessing the best launch points. We’ve got our heavy-duty river tubes that we picked up at the local sporting goods store (Herb Philipsons), we’re covered in waterproof sunscreen and we’re ready for adventure!

Launching at an area known as Bitty Falls, we all hold each other’s hands and make a tube chain of 6 people. That doesn’t last long as the twisting and turning currents splash us, twirl us about and send us off downstream in an exhilarating thrill ride. The 100+ temps are no longer a worry as we’re being cooled off by the river and by our friends as we commence a full fledged water fight while floating.

River tubing on Fish Creek at Wellnesste Cabin Rentals in Taberg NY
River tubing on Fish Creek at Wellnesste Cabin Rentals in Taberg NY

Passing by other Wellnesste Lodge landmarks such as Garnet Rock (named after a local Native American legend) the time whizzes by and everyone’s got wide happy smiles on their faces. We disembark at a trailhead near an aptly named area called Flat Rocks and walk our tubes back up the trail system to do it all over again.

The afternoon flies by and after a half a dozen trips down the river; we’re all happily exhausted and famished. Time to head back up to our cabin that we’ve rented for a week, get the BBQ stoked and crack open an ice cold Saranac beer. I think we’ll have smores for dessert under the stars tonight. Yep… life is good!

Rent a cabin at Wellnesste Lodge and experience the Mighty Fish for yourself… Wellnesste

Alpine (Downhill) Skiing in CNY in March

For much of the United States, March is a time for Cherry Blossoms, tulips and the launch of spring. For the hearty souls who live in or visit Upstate NY, March is also the month for late winter skiing.

The warmer March temps (averaging in the mid 30’s to mid 40’s) and heavy base snows of the past four months make skiing a pleasant adventure for the entire family. In addition to warmer temperatures, March usually brings in a few good late season storms to add to the snow pack. For example, just this past week our area of Central New York received 18” of new lake effect goodness- delivered as an equal opportunity for skiers and snowboarders alike!

Gearin' up for downhill adventure & then to Wellnesste for cocoa
Gearin' up for downhill adventure & then to Wellnesste for cocoa
Sophie downhill skiing fun at Woods Valley in CNY
Sophie downhill skiing fun at Woods Valley in CNY

Being that March is considered “latter season” for downhill adventures, you can also find some great discount deals on lodging and ski lift tickets. Many area resorts have specials from week to week so it’s always good to contact them a few days before you plan to come up & ask about the latest conditions and ski package discounts.

Lights coming on for the thrill of night skiing
Lights coming on for the thrill of night skiing

Two of our personal favorite Central New York downhill ski resorts are Snow Ridge and Woods Valley. Our family and many of our guests love the convenience and family-friendly atmosphere of these two local gems. With hills from beginner to expert, they offer a nice variety of skiing challenges for all age groups and skill levels. Both resorts are so kid-friendly that the local schools even use them for their school ski clubs. Our cabins are just a short drive (20-40 min) from these ski hills so a day trip of skiing followed by a rendezvous at your Wellnesste Cabin where you can gather with your friends and family for a hearty meal & a board game is always in the cards.

So… don’t be content with sitting on the couch for the month of March. Get outdoors and enjoy some fun late winter downhill skiing in beautiful Upstate New York. And of course, if you need a place to stay- “we’ve got a cabin waitin’ for ya.”