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New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Whiteface Mountain Veterans' Memorial Highway and Other Regional Vistas

Love scenic views but you're not much of a hiker? There are a few regional options for you, including the Whiteface Mountain Veterans' Memorial Highway in Wilmington, NY.

The highway, located in the heart of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks about 2.5 hours outside Albany, will open for the season on Saturday (May 17). Repairs are wrapping up for the season from a $12 million project on the 8 mile road.

The highway was completed in 1935 and dedicated to all war veterans. More than 70,000 people travel to the highway annually. The road is full of great vistas and a few unnerving hairpin turns.

(from my hike down the highway)

I have a few memories on the highway since my family used to travel to the Lake Placid area annually. We would take the highway up and take photos at the top with the mountains and picturesque lakes below. There is also a photo op with a sign stating the height of the mountain (4,865 feet) - it's the fifth highest in the state. I remember the brakes from cars smelling on the way down on each of our trips, despite drivers putting their vehicles in the lower gear.

I also used the highway when I was first starting my hiking trips up to the Adirondacks. On one trip, we would have been stuck on top if not for the highway down. In that case, it was great having man-made items at the top. Luckily, I learned my lesson and I've never had a close call on any other hikes.

(Whiteface summit and observation area)

This week through June 30, the highway will be open weekends from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Memorial Day. From July 1 to Sept. 1, the highway will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. before resorting back to weekend operations from Sept. 6 to Oct. 5.

The cost is $10 for a vehicle and driver, and $7 for each additional passenger. Cyclists can summit the highway for $6.

More information can be found here about the highway and here about the nearby Olympic venues in Lake Placid.

There are also great vistas from: the Corning Tower in downtown Albany (open weekdays until 4 p.m.), Thatcher Park which has a view of much of the Capital District from an escarpment in Voorheesville, the Saratoga Monument in Victory which is free to scale, the Grafton Fire Tower with views of Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts, and the 100 mile View on Hogback Mountain along Route 9E in Wilmington, Vt. which on a clear day has views to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

(One of my favorite ADK photos I've taken - despite the black line - on Whiteface)

Speaking of the White Mountains, another mountain you can drive up is Mount Washington. The Auto Road there opens Friday (May 16) and private tours start Memorial Day weekend. Self tour rates are $28 for the car and driver, and $8 for additional adults. This includes a bumper sticker and audio tour CD. The mountain is over 6,000 feet high. I'm rather hoping to drive up it sometime myself in the near future.


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