How To See The Best Views of The Adirondacks – Whiteface Mountain

The Top of Whiteface Summit

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Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by Lori

Some of the most breathtaking views you will ever see are located in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks. 

The Summit of Whiteface Mountain provides a 360-degree view of beautiful vistas reaching as far as Vermont and Canada making it one of the best views you’ll ever see in the Adirondacks. 

Driving up Whiteface Mountain was one of our most favorite things to do in the Adirondacks!

 

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Whiteface Mountain Adirondacks New York

If you’re near Lake Placid, NY, one of your “bucket list” items must be to visit the top of Whiteface Mountain!

 

You can choose to take an 8-person gondola ride to what’s called Little Whiteface; or, you can drive to the top of the Summit of Whiteface Mountain via Veterans Memorial Highway.

 

We chose to drive Veterans Memorial Highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain and then hike the Stairway Ridge Trail to the top of the summit! 

 

Needless to say…we were not disappointed!

 

Dedicated to the memory of American servicemen and women, Veterans Memorial Highway is a five-mile beautiful scenic highway taking you on a steady upward climb, around hairpin turns leading to the Castle at the summit of the mountain (4,602 feet above sea level).  

 

 

Where Is Whiteface Mountain Located?

 

Entrance Booth to Whiteface Mountain Summit
Entrance to Whiteface Mountain. Photo by L. Andrews

 

 

The entrance to Veterans Memorial Highway is near the town of Wilmington, NY. 

 

We happened to be camping at North Pole Resorts Campground (100 Acre Woods section) and it was just a short drive along 86 into the town of Wilmington where you’ll see the signs pointing left to the summit.

 

As you drive towards the entrance, you will see this beautiful Alpine-style gatehouse constructed in 1934 which is the Toll House area.

 

One of the first things to check before you pay the entrance fee is the posted Visibility for the day. 

 

If you see that it is zero visibility, you might want to consider returning later in the day or even make plans to drive to the top another day because you don’t want to miss the views!

 

As you begin the slow drive up the mountain (25 mph), you will see nine pull off areas providing a safe area to pull over to enjoy the views and safely take photos. 

 

Many of these pullovers also have picnic tables and we saw numerous families having a picnic lunch while enjoying the awesome views!  

 

View from Veterans Memorial Drive Whiteface Mountain
Views from Whiteface Mountain Adirondacks New York. Photo by L. Andrews

 

Here’s a view heading back down the drive.  We saw many bicyclists pedaling up to the top and we wondered… “How Did They Do That?”

 

Drive down the Summit Whiteface Mountain
Veterans Memorial Highway Whiteface Mountain. Photo by L. Andrews

 

 

Once you reach the top, the attendant will direct you around and through the Whiteface Mountain Castle to the parking area.

 

I mean it’s a one-way Archway under the castle – and it was very cool! 

 

Pro Tip: If you are driving a pickup truck or large SUV, pull in your truck mirrors as you go through the archway!

 

 

Whiteface Mountain Castle

The Whiteface Mountain Castle houses the Gift Shop/Restaurant and Restrooms. 

 

The Castle was constructed from the granite excavated from the highway construction.

 

Tunnel Through The Castle Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain Castle. Photo by L. Andrews

 

 

Once we parked, I put on my hiking boots.  Boy was I glad I did! 

 

My husband was handling our Golden Retriever, Buddy, and only had his sneakers on which he later regretted.  

 

Whiteface Mountain Stairway Ridge Trail

 

At the Whiteface Mountain Castle is where you begin the 26-story Stairway Ridge Trail – a 1/5 mile trail that leads to the Summit of Whiteface Mountain.

 

The first day we attempted to make it to the Top of the Summit we were excited that dogs were allowed on the Trail but weren’t really sure how far Buddy would make it.

 

Beginning of Stairway Ridge Trail
Whifeface Mountain Stairway Ridge Trail. Photo by L. Andrews

   

Buddy took right off up the stairs!

 

Golden Retriever Begins The Stairway Ridge Trail Whiteface Mountain
Buddy the Golden Retriever starts up the Stairway Ridge Trail Whiteface Mountain. Photo by L. Andrews

 

You can see how high the steps go…but I can tell you it isn’t all stairs. 

 

There are large rocks and smooth boulders to climb over and around, more narrow stairs, and then more steps as you climb higher and higher!

 

 

Start of Stairway Ridge Trail to Top of Whiteface Summit
Stairway Ridge Trail Stairs to Whiteface Summit. Photo by L. Andrews

 

The goal?  To hike Whiteface Mountain to the Summit House!

 

The Top of Whiteface Summit
View along the Stairway Ridge Trail to Whiteface Summit. Photo by L. Andrews

 

 

Hiking Whiteface Mountain

 

The climb was exciting! 

 

There were handrails along the sides to help you along. 

 

Everyone was polite and respectful and if someone was having trouble and taking their time – no problem!

 

Just step aside to look at the awesome views!

 

 

Stairway Ridge Trail Whiteface Mountain
Stairway Ridge Trail Whiteface Mountain New York. Photo by L. Andrews

 

As we continued up the trail, our Golden Retriever, Buddy was right there alongside us.

 

He climbed the stairs, jumped from boulder to boulder, and considering the number of people that were on the trail, he didn’t bat an eye with everyone reaching out to pet him! 

 

However, when the trail began to get very narrow towards the top – he put the brakes on!

 

Although another dog was also going up the trail at the same time, and people even stopped to say, “Come on Buddy!”, Buddy didn’t budge.

 

We were proud of him since he had never been on hikes this adventurous before.

 

As we turned and headed back down the summit, we vowed we would return another day to make it to the top!

 

On the Trail To Whiteface Mountain Summit
On the Stairway Ridge Trail to the top of Whiteface Mountain. Photo by L. Andrews

 

We did just that.

 

We returned two days later and the visibility was even better – 50 miles! 

 

This time, my husband put on his hiking boots too. 

 

He slipped several times with his sneakers on and he felt much more secure climbing over the rocks in his boots.

 

We started the Stairway Ridge Trail once more!  

 

Here’s a photo of Lake Placid as we were climbing to the top.

 

 

Lake Placid from Whiteface Mountain
View of Lake Placid from Whiteface Mountain. Photo by L. Andrews

 

Heading towards the Summit House! 

 

Almost There! (This is about where Buddy put the brakes on)  

 

Climb To The Top of Whiteface Mountain
Near the Summit of Whiteface Mountain. Photo by L. Andrews

    View along the Trail to the Summit  

This time – We Made It To The Summit Of Whiteface Mountain!

Tom and Lori at The Summit of Whiteface Mountain
Tom and Lori at Whiteface Mountain New York. Photo by T. Andrews

   

 

Whiteface Mountain Summit House And Weather Observatory

  

There is an elevator that in recent years you could take to the top, but was under construction this summer (2018).

 

Summit House and Weather Observatory Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain Summit House And Weather Observatory. Photo by L. Andrews

   

The Views are Spectacular!

 

View from the Top of Whiteface Mountain     Awesome view from Summit of Whiteface Mountain    

 

Whether you ride the gondola to Little Whiteface Mountain, or drive Veterans Memorial Highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain and then Hike the Stairway Ridge Trail to the Summit – you will see some of the most breathtaking views you will ever see of the Adirondacks.  

 

7 Tips To Help You Plan Your Visit To Whiteface Mountain!

 

Tip #1 

If possible, drive along Veterans Highway to the top and hike Stairway Ridge Trail to the Summit of Whiteface Mountain.

 

Tip #2

Wear hiking boots or other sturdy shoes – not flip-flops – you’ll be glad you did!

 

Tip #3

Bring a bottle of water & a picnic lunch to sit and enjoy the beautiful views!

 

Tip #4

Wear a sweatshirt or bring along a jacket as it is cool and windy at the top!

 

Tip #5 

If you purchase the Olympic Sites Passport both the Gondola Ride to Little Whiteface and drive to the Summit of Whiteface Mountain entrance fees are included!  (along with access to every one of the Olympic Sites).  Purchase your ticket online and save $5 off the window rate!

 

Tip #6 

We stayed at North Pole Resorts & Campground in Wilmington, NY which happened to be near ALL the activities we wanted to do!

 

Here’s my review of North Pole Resorts and Campground.

 

I highly recommend staying in Wilmington which is a few miles from Veterans Memorial Drive (entrance to Whiteface Mountain Summit), the Main Base Lodge,  High Falls Gorge, Lake Placid and 35 minutes from Ausable Chasm!

 

Tip #7

Go early in the morning when there are fewer crowds.  We went around mid-afternoon our first day and had to park far away from the Castle.  The second time we drove up around 10 a.m. and were able to park very close to the entrance to the Stairway Trail!

 

 

Whiteface Mountain Hours and Tickets

 

Veterans Memorial Highway

Entrance Fee: $20 – Vehicle and Driver

$20 +1 Additional Passenger

$10 Each 3-8 Passengers

6 years and under free

$20 Motorcycle + Driver

$15 Bicycle

$10 Hiker/Pedestrian

 

 

The Summit is open from June 1 – October 11 – 8:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily.  

 

Whiteface Mountain Gondola Ride Tickets

The 8 passenger gondola to Little Whiteface.  The gondola ride begins at the Whiteface Mountain Lodge and takes you up the mountain in 15 minutes! 

 

At the top, there is an observation deck and picnic area.

 

The gondola ride is open daily – June 29-September 3, 2018 from 930 – 5:00 p.m.  September 7-October 8, the gondola runs Friday-Sunday 9:30 – 5:00. 

 

The cost is:  Adult/Teen:  $20 online/$23 at the window;  Junior/Senior: $16  6 & under is Free  (Adult:  20-64/Teen: 13-19/Junior: 7-12/Senior: 65+. 

 

They also offer Military discounts with valid ID at $16 for Adults  

 

Why You Should Visit The Adirondacks And Whiteface Mountain

We loved our trip to the Adirondacks!

 

There were so many other hiking trails that three days just wasn’t enough!

 

Have you ever been to Whiteface Mountain or hiked the Stairway Ridge Trail? 

 

I would love to hear about it! Let me know!  

       

Hike To The Top of Whiteface Mountain

 

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