The largest ski resort in New York, the state-owned Whiteface Mountain (off Rte. 86, 518/946-2223, www.whiteface.com) boasts 65 trails, nine chairlifts, and the highest vertical drop in the Northeast: 3,216 feet. The mountain attracts expert skiers, but intermediate and novice trails are also plentiful.
During the summer, the mountain’s peaks are accessible via the Whiteface Mountain Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride (9 a.m.–4 p.m. June–Oct., adults $14, seniors and children 5–12 $9) and the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway ($9 per car and driver, $4 each additional passenger). The chairlift leads to Little Whiteface Peak (3,676 ft.), while the highway leads to Whiteface Summit (4,867 ft.).
Both afford superb views of the High Peaks to the south, Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains to the east, the St. Lawrence River and Canada to the north, and the Saranac Lake Valley to the west. Of the Adirondack’s 46 High Peaks, only Whiteface is accessible by car.
Near the entrance to the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway stands a cheery red-and-white cottage surrounded by flowers (Rte. 431, off Rte. 86, 518/946-2211, www.northpoleny.com, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily June–Sept., call for fall hours).
Inside is a post office/gift shop where visitors can send letters postmarked the “North Pole,” or buy T-shirts reading “I believe in Santa Claus.” Out back, a cozy, kid-oriented theme park (same hours, adults $20, children 3–17 $18) includes amusement-park rides, Santa’s reindeer, and Santa’s elves. Special events such as a Santa Claus Parade are presented daily.
Accommodations and Food
Best known for its restaurant, the Hungry Trout Motor Inn (Rte. 86, Wilmington, 518/946-2217, www.hungrytrout.com, $80–199 d) also offers 22 upscale motel rooms, all with picture windows, along with a pool and playground. The inn’s restaurant (average entrée $19), overlooking the churning white waters of the Ausable River, specializes in its namesake prepared a myriad of tasty ways, along with continental fare.
Stop into the Country Bear (Rte. 86, Wilmington, 518/946-2691) for a satisfying breakfast or lunch.
Getting to Whiteface Mountain
Heading into the High Peaks region from Ausable Chasm on Route 9N, you’ll pass through Au Sable Forks, once home to illustrator Rockwell Kent; and tiny Jay, beautifully situated on the East Branch of the Ausable River. In Jay are several old-fashioned country stores and the Jay Craft Center (Rte. 9N, 518/946-7824), housing a pottery studio and a gift shop. A few miles south in Upper Jay are attractive antiques shops.
From Jay, take Route 86 west to reach Wilmington, a small ski town huddled at the base of towering Whiteface Mountain. Adirondack Hospitality Since 1822, reads a sign in Wilmington.
You can also reach Whiteface Mountain from Lake Placid on Route 56.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition