Lake Placid – For those who participate in snowsports, Whiteface Mountain in Upstate New York, just 15 minutes from the Mirror Lake Inn, has now hit its stride. As we’ve reached mid-February, the trail count continues to grow thanks to world class snowmaking and virtually all lifts are in operation.
If you are a newcomer to the 1980 Olympic Mountain, guests will find a ski and ride facility run by New York State and has received a massive influx of funding from NY in recent years as part of an evolving campaign to modernize the mountain.
These investments to its technology enabled Whiteface Mountain to open earlier than anticipated in November with just one week of snowmaking. Despite challenges from the weather, the snowmakers and groomers continue to provide excellent trail coverage and conditions. Oftentimes, trails would be dotted with snow whales one to stories in height, waiting to be dispatched during the overnight grooming process.
Lodges have also been the recipient of upgrades and rebuilds, none more noticeable than the structure at Bear Den. The base lodge there has quadrupled in size, now with two restaurants, ample cafeteria space, headquarters for snowsports school, rental shop, retail store and a large ticket purchasing area. The parking area fronts Bear Den for easy access. If you arrive a bit late, no worries – a shuttle service will collect you in the parking lot and drop you off outside the front door of the lodge.
Right outside the Bear Den Lodge, skiers and boarders will find easy access to lifts and trails. Instead of a chair lift, beginners can ride two moving carpets as they get introduced to these exciting sports. The carpets enable guests to get maximum runs with their instructors before heading over to the Falcon Flyer. This four-person chair accesses a wealth of easy and fun trails. This is where you gain valuable mileage and repetitions as you now can call yourself a snowboarder or skier.
But Bear Den isn’t just for neophytes. The smartest and most experienced local enthusiasts use this area to bypass the masses at the main lodge and get up the mountain quickly and easily. You can park near the lift and lodge, ride the Falcon Flyer, take the Moose trail to Moose cut and then just arc your way down to the Cloudsplitter Gondola, Warhorse quad chair and the Facelift.
Up on the hill, an unfortunate fire two years ago destroyed the mid-station lodge, but what replaced it was a multi-level, state-of-the-art building that was relocated. Whereas the former mid-station was placed in the middle of Lower Valley, this new iteration was repositioned to the side nearest the Boreen trail.
The main lodge at the base of the mountain has also evolved in recent years with a three-level operation that includes upscale dining options and a cavernous area for eating and resting on the second floor.
Upstairs, the Cloudspin Bar and Grill boasts a hip bar with live music on weekends and holidays. When spring hits the Adirondacks, you’ll want to grab lunch and your favorite beverage, step outside onto the expansive deck and rejuvenate with a quantity of Vitamin D. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
As we write this blog, Whiteface Mountain conditions range from packed powder to loose, wet and frozen granular depending on weather and time of day. Most days, eight or nine of the 11 lifts are in operation with nearly 70 trails offered on all three mountains: Little Whiteface, Whiteface and Lookout. Most recently, the endless Wilmington trail on Lookout Mountain, with its various degrees of difficulty, has opened. This is one of the east’s most exhilarating runs, alternating between moderate degrees of challenge and rolling and flat terrain where the legs can recover.
As we approach the end of February, forecasters are anticipating some new snow for the Adirondacks with upwards of six inches or more headed our way during Presidents’ Week. Please check your weather app for the latest snow information, as well as the Whiteface Mountain webcam for a real-time peek at mid-mountain conditions.