5. Whiteface Mountain
Elevation: 4867 (1483)
44.2157N 073.5411W [Lake Placid]
Whiteface Mountain Trail Conditions
Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in New York State, and one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Set apart from most of the other High Peaks, the summit offers a commanding 360-degree view featuring the Adirondacks and perhaps on a clear day glimpses of Vermont and even Canada. Located in the hamlet of Wilmington (about 13 miles from Lake Placid) the mountain is home to a ski area which boasts the greatest vertical drop in the eastern United States (3430 feet, or 1,045 m). Part of the dramatic post World War II growth in recreational skiing attributed to the efforts of returning veterans of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, Whiteface also hosted the alpine skiing competition of the 1980 Winter Olympics. Unique among the High Peaks, Whiteface features a developed summit and seasonal accessibility by motor vehicle.
Whiteface Castle and the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway were Depression Era public works projects and perhaps a test case for the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects that followed. Construction on the toll road began in 1929, after passage of a necessary amendment to the state constitution, with a groundbreaking ceremony featuring then-New York State Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Eventually costing 1.2 million dollars and ending within 300 vertical feet (91 m) of the summit the roadway is 5 miles long and features an impressively steep 8% average grade. Officially opened July 20, 1935 in a ceremony featuring Roosevelt, by then President, the highway was dedicated to veterans of the Great War.
Whiteface Castle, an imposing structure built with granite excavated during the road construction, dominates the summit area. From the adjacent parking lot there are two routes to the summit proper. The first route is the Stairway Ridge Trail, a footpath with handrails and intermittent cement and stone steps approximately 0.2 miles (124 m) long. The second is a 424-foot (129 m) long tunnel into the core of the mountain. At the end of the tunnel is an elevator, which rises 276 feet (84 m, or approximately 27 stories) to the summit.
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