Monday, September 28, 2015

Lake Placid (NY) Whiteface Memorial Veterans' Highway

There is a 360º view at the summit of Whiteface Mountain,
including this view of Lake Placid. 
The last time my car climbed Whiteface Mountain, the 5th highest peak in the Adirondacks,  I was with a friend who had climbed not only all 46 High Peaks but also many other mountains around the world. The view had been socked in and we were to meet a large group congregating at the summit to celebrate three new 46ers. Visibility was zero that day at the summit and I spent my time making sure my children didn’t plunge off the slippery slope into the clouds.  

Whiteface Memorial Veterans Highway Toll Road winds
around for 5 miles before reaching the summit. 
Years later and my car has managed to do twice what I haven’t accomplished once, it climbed to the summit of the 4,867' tall Whiteface Mountain.  This time I check the Whiteface website to make sure my visitors and I are going to be able to see the 360-degree Adirondack panorama. It states 70 miles of visibility.
We pay the fee at the alpine-styled Toll House and start our ascent.  The nine designated stops along the way are overlook vistas. Picnic tables are available along side interpretive signs outlining the surrounding area. The car groans in protest, not unlike the legs of the people traversing the trail and slide of Whiteface. At the last stop the attendant takes our ticket and describes the various means to reach the summit, elevator or nature trail.

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more family, kid, senior, retired, tourist attractions 
near Lake Placid (NY)
Governor Franklin Roosevelt dedicated Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway in 1929. By the time it opened in 1936, again by Roosevelt, he was president. The five-mile (5-mile) road rises 2,300 feet before reaching the castle. The two-story Whiteface Castle is constructed from granite that was excavated at a nearby quarry located near this excellent short, easy trail (Cobbles Lookout) during the highway construction.

The nature trail is a great option to explore
the Adirondack fauna through interpretive signs.
The 1/5-mile Stairway Ridge Nature Trail is open. It is windy and ice is already clinging to a few steps. The signs inform of the various endangered plant species, wildflowers and landslides. The view is breathtaking. Each direction is spectacular. The day is clear and everyone that is there is quietly taking in the beauty. 

Whiteface Mountain is the 5th highest mountain
in the Adirondacks!
We opt to exit via the elevator. The attendant pulls the elevator door closed behind us. We peer through the grate into the depths of the mountain. The elevator slowly descends 276 (27 stories) feet from the summit of Whiteface Moutain to deposit us in the heart of the mountain. The sound of the water dripping off granite walls surrounds us. The 426-foot tunnel is dark and cool as we carefully make our way back to the car.

The elevation into the center of Whiteface Mt
is an exciting option
The Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway is open from mid-May to Mid-October. From the Route 86/Route 431 junction in Wilmington turn west onto Route 431. The Toll House is about 3-miles from the intersection, at a dead end.  The fee in 2015 is $11/car and driver, $8/additional person and $8/cyclists. 

Adirondack Family Time Tip: Stop at Lake Stephens, located beside the Whiteface Memorial Veterans Highway Tollhouse. There is an interpretive trail, a stocked pond for children and great place to relax or explore! 

© Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time™ guidebook series. Adirondack Family Time™guidebooks have easy, short Adirondack family hikes for ADK kids, parents, retired, seniors, dog-owners, Adirondack swimming holes, Lake Placid Olympic activities, Adirondack trivia, Adirondack horseback rides, Adirondack snowshoe family trails and more. Look for the Adirondack family guidebooks  online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the next Adirondack Family Activities™ guide.

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