When I was a teenager I joined a high school trip to Mount Marcy in New York’s Adirondack mountains where we hiked and camped overnight. It ended up being a more difficult trip than expected because the trails were blocked by huge fallen trees from an earthquake a few weeks before and when we neared the top we faced blowing snow in October that our group hadn’t been prepared for. On top of that we had a large bear in our camp that woke everyone up and required a lot of noise to scare away. It was a rough start to doing the mountain experience but I still enjoyed it.
Returning to the Adirondacks two years ago brought back memories of the forested hills and mountains I remembered from my original trip, and so this time around we planned to do another of the tallest ones–Whiteface Mountain. Whiteface is the fifth-highest mountain in New York State, and boasts a top-ranked ski resort along with the driving and hiking trails.
We headed south into the Adirondacks, a region which covers about 5,000 square miles (13,000 km2), more than we intended to cover in one trip! The drive was picturesque as we passed forests and lakes. Our destination was Lake Placid, a popular vacation area and the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics. For hockey fans it was the site of the “Miracle On Ice” where the U.S. hockey team upset the powerful Soviet squad.
After checking into our hotel we checked out the town. There’s an easy walk around Mirror Lake in downtown Lake Placid, and the namesake lake is on the north side of town. Later on we checked out nearby trails at Lake Placid, with the quieter ones being a short distance from the town.
The next day we headed to Whiteface Mountain. We stopped off along the way to take in the stunning scenery on a beautiful summer day.
Eventually we reached Mt. Washington. It’s a drive-up mountain, so the journey is straightforward and comfortable for most of the way. As we reached the foot of the mountain we could see the main building high above us in the distance.
The highway to the top is known as Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway and was supported by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was governor of New York. It was dedicated to veterans of the First World War and officially opened by Roosevelt in 1935, two years after he became president.
Once we parked we paid the park fee at the main building and headed up from there. The climb along the spine of the mountain is made much easier by the stone walls and handrails throughout. For those unable to do the climb there’s an option to take an elevator to the summit from the main building.
Once we made it to the top the views were spectacular. You could move around the summit for views in every direction.
We ended up doing a few more forest trails during our trip here. This part of the Adirondacks is known for its ski slopes in the winter and hiking trails during the rest of the year.
The Adirondack region has grouped its highest mountains as the Adirondack High Peaks. It includes 46 mountains that were originally over 4,000 feet (1,219 m), though four were later found to be just under that height. Perhaps when we return someday we can try a few more of them!