There aren’t many Nordic ski routes where you can gauge your progress by mileage markers. The exception, I learned last weekend, is the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway.
When the state repaved the highway recently, it installed highway reference markers along the shoulder. These are the small rectangular signs on metal posts that you see along state-maintained roads every tenth or two-tenths of a mile. Usually they’re green, but those on the Whiteface highway are brown. » Continue Reading.
At the age of fifteen, William Anderson of Troy was a busy boy. Besides working as a messenger for the common council and handling desk clerk duties at a local library, he had toiled as a newsboy for the TroyTimes since he was twelve years old. Newsboys were once a critical part of operations for most newspapers. Instead of being hired, they were independent, which was good for the newspapers but not so good for the boys. They purchased papers and hawked them on the streets, earning a tiny amount of profit for each one sold, and taking the hit for papers that went unsold. » Continue Reading.
Skiing the Whiteface Memorial Highway early in the season is a ritual for many skiers in the Lake Placid region. The toll road was skiable from top to bottom for the first time late last week. This photo was taken Friday evening in the fading light.
The late, extraordinary forest educator, Dr. Edwin H. Ketchledge, started an exhibit of native Adirondack trees at the base of the Whiteface Memorial Highway in Wilmington, and wrote to all who would listen how important it would be to properly interpret the natural history of the mountain from the base of the road to the mountain’s summit. Of course, Dr. Ketchledge had interpreted this route in hundreds of ways during his career as a teacher, and was hopeful that his legacy would continue.
Governor Andrew Cuomo just made it a lot safer to accomplish Dr. Ketchledge’s vision as a result of the state’s commitment to expend $12 million to rehabilitate the road and the summit’s facilities. This is welcome news indeed for Wilmington, the Olympic Authority and many Adirondack residents and visitors who marvel at what they feel, see and learn from this mountain road. » Continue Reading.
We talked for several minutes about the association’s campaign to maintain ski glades in the Forest Preserve. Adirondack Almanack reported on this initiative back in May. Since then, the association has been meeting with environmental activists and government officials to drum up support.
On Sunday over 200 cyclists participated in the Wilmington/Whiteface 100 K race. While some were hoping just to complete the challenging 57-mile course, others were aiming to qualify for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race (LT100). People from all walks of life competed in this event, from professionals to Olympic athletes.
The Leadville 100 was created in 1994 and participants previously had to gain access by using a lottery system; now, athletes hoping to complete in the prestigious race can qualify through one of the qualifying races in Wilmington, Tahoe, and Crested Butte. Each of the three races allow 100 racers to qualify for spots in the LT 100; 50 of these slots are based on age group performance, while the other 50 with a drawing among the athletes who finished within the time standard. Wilmington’s race, along with the other two in the western part of the country, is one of the inaugural races, as 2011 is the first year ever to allow athletes to qualify. » Continue Reading.
The Town of Wilmington has announced that the region will host the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k on June 19, 2011. Wilmington will serve as one of three qualifier series race host venues for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, the best known and most prestigious mountain bike race in North America.
The event’s schedule coincides with the annual Wilmington Bike Fest, which includes the Whiteface Uphill Bike Race, which will be held on Saturday, June 18. Wilmington/Whiteface 100k participants are invited to “Warm UP” by riding in the mountain bike division that is being introduced this year; a five mile race to the top of the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. “The event is a perfect fit for the destination, as it supports the Whiteface Region‘s brand as a biking destination, and will increase visitor activity during the typically slower shoulder season,” said James McKenna, President of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid CVB. “This is another event that resulted from the cooperative partnerships that were cemented in order to successfully host the Empire State Winter Games. Kudos to the staff at the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) who facilitated the connection with the event organizers that ultimately brought this event to Wilmington.”
Showcasing some of the best places to ride in America, the Leadville Qualifying Series races will be held in America’s great mountains with races in the Adirondacks, Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies. The other two qualifiers will be held in North Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on July 10 and Crested Butte, Colorado on July 31. Each qualifying race will provide 100 qualifying spots to the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. The spots will be allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers.
The Adirondack qualifier will traverse 100 kilometers of backcountry trails in the Towns of Wilmington and Jay and finish on Whiteface Mountain.
Since 1983, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race has been the pinnacle of the mountain biking world. Currently 103 miles in length and 11,500 feet of climbing, the ultra-distance event is a single- and double-track-style mountain bike race on one of the world’s most challenging courses. The weekend event is produced by Life Time Fitness and challenges both amateur and professional mountain bikers to steep climbs and descents, with elevation topping out at more than 12,500 feet. More information on the Leadville Qualifier Series can be found online.
A number of notable avalanches have occurred over the last month in the Adirondacks. Whiteface Mountain Ski Center officials have told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that two avalanches have occurred this season on the Slides area of the mountain. Officials said both events were triggered by one or more skiers. The most recent (Tuesday morning) is believed to have been caused by someone who entered the Slides area from Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. The Slides are not accessible by chairlifts, but can be accessed by a traverse from the top of the summit chairlift. The previous Whiteface avalanche occurred at the Slides on February 26th. About five avalanches are reported to have occurred at Whiteface over the past ten years. » Continue Reading.
I got back from a long holiday weekend Sunday night to find a few inches of snow in my driveway in Saranac Lake. It won’t be long before the cross-country-ski season begins in earnest.
So far, I have been out only once—on the Whiteface highway, the traditional first ski of the season in the Adirondacks. The highway needs only a few inches of snow to be skiable.
A few years ago, the Adirondack Explorer published an article by Tony Goodwin—the author of Ski and Snowshoe Trails in the Adirondacks — on other places to ski that don’t require a lot of snow. He came up with ten early – season suggestions in addition to the Whiteface road. Click here to read Tony’s story. You’ll find some other old favorites, such as the road to Camp Santanoni, as well as lesser-known destinations, such as Bum Pond in the Whitney Wilderness.
If you have other ideas for early-season ski trips, let us know.
And if you’re planning ahead for trips later in the season, bookmark this site. I’ll be adding links to more ski trips as they become available.
Photo by Phil Brown: A skier on Whiteface Memorial Highway.
In 1935, after years of planning, debate, and construction, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway was completed. It was named in honor of America’s veterans of the so-called “Great War” (World War I), and was expected to be a major tourist attraction.
Automobiles were becoming commonplace in the North Country at that time, and travelers to the region now had a thrilling view available to them at the press of a gas pedal. Seventy-five years later, it remains a spectacular drive and a great family excursion. But the macadam highway to the summit almost never came to be. New Hampshire’s Mount Washington nearly had a New York counterpart. » Continue Reading.
The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., turns 75 tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14th. Whiteface, its staff and the town of Wilmington, will celebrate the occasion by rolling back prices to $1 per person, the same rate as it was in 1935. And since the Highway is dedicated to all veterans, they will be admitted free.
Once at the top, guest will have the opportunity to enjoy historical displays at the castle, a specially priced barbeque, and at 1 p.m. a ceremony which will include the reading of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, which dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of World War I. Other speakers will include New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer and Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston. Opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935, the Highway “officially” opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 14, 1935 which was attended by President Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway. During the ceremony, the United States’ 32nd President dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of the “Great War,” but in 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans. It has recently been slated for upgrades.
Whiteface Mountain is the fifth largest peak in the Adirondack Mountain range and it’s the only mountain in the Adirondacks that offers accessibility by vehicle. Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.
Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.
The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., celebrated its 75th birthday on July 20th. At a cost of $1.2 million, construction of the winding roadway began in 1929 and was a part of the Depression Era public works projects. The highway opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935 and the official opening ceremony took place later that year, in September.
During the opening ceremony celebration, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway, dedicated it to the veterans of World War I. In 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans. Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.
Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.
Admission to the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway is $10 for vehicle and driver, $6 for each additional passenger. Bicycles can enjoy the more than 2,300-foot climb for only $5. Photo: President Franklin D. Roosevelt attends the official opening of the Whiteface highway, Sept. 1935, and dedicates it to all veterans of World War I. Courtesy 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.
The Olympic Regional Development Authority, which operates Whiteface Mountain, will let bicyclists ride the Whiteface Memorial Highway, a 5-mile auto road, to the summit for a $5 fee during its summer operations.
Extreme cyclists have always plied their leg strength against Whiteface’s 3,500-foot climb from Wilmington (2,300 feet from the toll booth). But bicycles have never been allowed on the road when the toll booth was open during the summer — they had to sneak in before or after hours.
Why? Turns out the culprit was an old DEC memo that prohibited non-motorized transportation on the road, said ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin. “We just kind of abided by that,” he said. “There hasn’t been a demand until recently.” These days, more and more people are taking bikes to the Adirondacks, as witnessed by Whiteface’s mountain-bike activities at the ski center, a nearby mountain biking area called the Flume Trail system and the debate about turning railroad tracks into rail-trails happening a few miles away.
Finally, someone at ORDA thought to ask the DEC to rethink the memo. Turns out, now it’s OK.
So, if you want to ride during the day — and get to visit the summit house — it’s $5 per cycle. Helmets are required (but you’d be a fool to go screaming down that hill without one anyway). Whiteface is the state’s fifth-highest peak at 4,867 feet.
Cheapskates who just want to ride to the top can still ride around the gate before or after hours for free.
For those who like thrill, challenge and lactic burn of hill-climbing, Whiteface is only one of a handful of mountains in the Northeast that allow cycling to the top. Mt. Washington in New Hampshire (6,288) and Mt. Mansfield (4,393) and Mt. Equinox (3,850) in Vermont do not let cyclists on their roads, except during a yearly race held on those peaks.
In Massachusetts, cyclists are allowed to ride up the road to Mt. Greylock, the state’s highest peak, but the elevation is not nearly as high as these more significant peaks. Further to the northeast, Ascutney, Okemo and Burke mountains in Vermont all allow bikes to the top (but with pitches significantly steeper than Whiteface’s 8-percent grade).
The Whiteface Mountain Bike Park opens for the season, Friday, June 18. Riders will have the chance to experience 27 of Whiteface’s mountain bike trails or ride the cross country flume trails from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. Giant Bicycles will have their latest cross country bikes available for demonstration rides and there will be guided tours of the new flume trails all weekend long by the crew that built the trails. Other events at the mountain include a Pump Track Challenge on Saturday, at noon, and a Super D race on Sunday, also at noon. After experiencing the hand-built downhill and cross country mountain bike trails visitors to the bike park can head down to the Wilmington dirt jump and skills park for the Kyle Ebbett & Friends Jump Jam, from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday, June 19. The Jump Jam is open to all levels and abilities and prizes will be awarded for style and creativity. Some of the top pros will be on hand, but prizes are for the amateurs in all age groups. Other events during the Jump Jam include live music from Damaged Goods and a free showing of a local bike film. The evening ends with the feature film, “Follow Me.”
The ninth annual Whiteface Uphill Bike Race is also slated for Saturday. Riders from all over the country will ascend up the eight-mile long scenic Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. Cyclists begin the 3,500-foot climb at 5:30 p.m. in group waves.
A barbecue dinner will be held following the race and awards will be presented to the men’s and women’s overall winner and the top three finishers in each class. The Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race is a part of the Bike Up the Mountain Points Series (BUMPS), which includes nine competitions across four states and eight mountains, with Whiteface being the first race of the series.
Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort will host its 18th Annual Oktoberfest on October 3-4 with vendors, arts and crafts, children’s rides, and Bavarian food, drink and entertainment by die Schlauberger, the Lake Placid Bavarians, and Ed Schenk on the accordion, Schachtelgebirger Musikanten (Scha-Musi is in their fifth year at the Whiteface Oktoberfest), Spitze, The Alpen Trio, and dancing by the Alpenland Taenzer.
Considered one of America’s best German bands, die Schlauberger plays German favorites with a mission of “Keeping the Traditionalists on their Feet and the New Generation Interested.” SPITZE! offers an alpine show that features cowbells, the alpine xylophone, the alphorn and yodeling. The band will host yodel and Schuhplattler (Bavarian Folk Dancing) contests. The Lake Placid Bavarians have been performing traditional Bavarian music in the north country for the last 18 years.
The Cloudsplitter Gondola will be operating for views of the Adirondack foliage as will the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway.
Oktoberfest will be held Saturday from 10 am – 7 pm and Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm. A complimentary shuttle service will be provided both days. Departure from the Olympic Center Box Office in Lake Placid takes place at 11 am, 1 pm and 2:30 pm. The bus will depart Whiteface and return to Lake Placid at 2 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm (Sat. only), 7:30 pm (Sat. only) and 5:30 pm (Sun. only). The shuttle will also service Wilmington with stops at the Candyman, located on the corner of Routes 86 and 431, at 12 pm and 5 pm.
Daily admission for adults is $15 for the festival; $25 for the festival and a scenic gondola ride. The junior and senior price is $8 for the festival and $18 for both. Children six years of age and under are admitted free of charge.
The following weekend (October 10-11) the 9th Annual Flaming Leaves Festival will feature the 2010 U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships along with live blues bands, barbeque and microbrews, kids’ activities, games, craft vendors and more The Flaming Leaves festival runs from 10 am – 5 pm both days. Admission is $14 for adults, and $8 for juniors/seniors and includes the chairlift and elevator ride to the Sky Deck atop the 120 meter ski jump tower.
Olympic Sites Passports are honored for admission at both the Oktoberfest and the Flaming Leaves Festival.
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