Over 2,500 Feet of Vertical Regret: Mountain Biking Lake Placid's Little Whiteface - Page 4
Make no mistake: If you take the gondola to the top of Little Whiteface, be prepared for some serious downhill. When you reach level ground, your legs won't be screaming from countless uphill pushes, but the anxiety inspired by the descent will still leave you exhaustedand your forearms will ache from near-steady brake application. The less experienced should take advantage of the vehicle shuttle midway up the mountain, which offers access to the less-extreme singletrack. And the route along the river westward toward Wilmington is ideal for riders who are still getting comfortable on a pair of knobbies.
How to Get There
The Mountain Bike Center at Whiteface Resort (Wilmington, NY 12997; 518.946.2223; whiteface.com/index-flash.cfm) is located nine miles west of Lake Placid on Route 86 and is managed by Lake Placid-based High Peaks Cyclery, in conjunction with ORDA. Little Whiteface is open daily for mountain biking from June 21 to September 1, from 10 to 4, weekends only from September 6 to October 13. Trail access is $6 per day, or $10 for a two-day pass. Uphill transportation aboard the Cloudsplitter or the shuttles midway up the mountain costs $20 for one day, and $30 for a two-day pass. One ride with uphill transport runs $12. Bike/helmet rentals, lessons, clinics, and guides are available. If renting, a full-suspension rig is highly advisable. Not surprisingly, helmets are required. At present, the trail maps do not reflect the trails that actually line the mountain; if you don't want a guide, ask for recommended routes. The staff is readily knowledgeable and willing to help.
High Peaks Cyclery (331 Main Street; Lake Placid, NY 12940; 518.52.3764; www.highpeakscyclery.com) has been a Lake Placid cycling institution since 1982, and runs both mountain bike centers at Whiteface Ski Resort and at Mount Van Hovenberg in the Verizon Sports Complex. They offer half-, single-, and multi-day bike and helmet rentals, and offer a variety of other guided outdoor pursuits throughout the Adirondack region.
Where to Stay
Placid Bay Inn (70 Saranac Avenue; Lake Placid, NY 12946; 518.523.2001; www.placidbay.com) offers quiet, reasonably priced cottages and rooms (some with kitchenettes) right on the shores of Lake Placid. Free canoe and paddleboat use and pool access are included.
Additional Information on Whiteface Resort
The six-person Cloudsplitter Gondola (whiteface.com/gondola.htm; open summer: June-Mid-October; winter: Thanksgiving to second weekend of April; Hours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) travels to the top of Little Whiteface, offering unparalleled views of the region. Rates are $12 for adult, $8 for juniors/seniors, and $35 per family.
The Veterans Memorial Highway deposits you just below the summit of 4,876-foot Whiteface Mountain. Two routes take you to the above-treeline peak: the Stairway Ridge Trail, or aboard an elevator embedded 426 feet into the mountain that climbs the last 276 feet to the summit. It's advisable to visit in the morning, when the views are the clearest. (whiteface.com/memhighway.htm; open daily from May 17-June 27, 9.a.m to 4 p.m.; June 28September 1, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; September 2October 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., $9 per car and driver, $6 for motorcycles.)