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A Drive Up Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway»
Whiteface mountain is one of the Adirondack’s High Peaks and is the fifth highest mountain in New York at 4867 feet. In a previous post, we traveled up one side of the mountain in the Olympic Ski Area’s gondola. The Veterans Memorial Highway climbs the other side of the mountain and gets motorists within 267 feet of the summit.
The highway began construction when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was governor of New York and was opened to the public when he was president of the United States. It includes a stone castle and visitor center at the 4600 foot mark and an observation tower at the summit.
Because it was completed during the Great Depression, it is often mistaken as a CCC project, but it was funded by the State of New York. It is interesting to note that both the nearby city of Lake Placid and Whiteface are within the boundaries of Adirondack State Park. Adirondack Park was created in 1892 to stop the clear-cutting of the state’s forests (and keep NYC’s water supply flowing) and is the country’s largest State Park at six million acres.
Our hotel recommended we call to make sure the weather was OK before heading over to the entrance in Wilmington. The day we had planned to drive up, the summit was fogged in, so we tried again the next day.
At the entrance, we paid the toll and slowly drove up the five miles. There are nine designated pullouts and we stopped at most of them to enjoy the views of Lake Placid and the Adirondacks.
The castle was built three years after the road opened using stones excavated during the road’s construction. From there we walked up the Summit Nature Trail to the summit. This is 1/5 mile of stone steps and rocky ridge with railings to hold on to. It’s breathtaking, steep and slippery.
Once we’d had our fill of the view, we took the elevator back down through the mountain to the castle level. The elevator lets out into a long tunnel carved into the mountain. The complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Lake Placid Posts:
- Olympic Boblsed Complex
- Olympic Ski Jump Complex
- Olympic Center
- High Falls Gorge
- Little Whiteface
- Whiteface Mountain
- Rainbow Falls (Coming Soon)
- Ausable Chasm (Coming Soon)
Location: Memorial Highway, Wilmington, NY
Designation: National Register of Historic Places, State Park
Date established/designated: 1935, 2008 NRHP
Date of my visit: July 26, 2011