Quick Guide to the Whiteface Mountain Steps, New York's Famous Hike


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The majestic and breathtaking Whiteface Mountain is tucked away in the Adirondack region in upstate New York, just north of Syracuse and Albany. And hikers excitedly travel to the city of Wilmington to take on the challenge that has become one of the state's most popular hikes: the Whiteface Mountain Steps.

Hiking the Whiteface Mountain Steps

Winding Path Lined with Iron Railings on the Top of a Mountain on a Sunny Autumn Day. Wooded Mountains are Visible in Background. Whiteface Mountain, The Adirondacks, NY.

AlbertPego via Getty Images

Although this hike is considered pretty tricky, it's still a beautiful all-day endeavor worth taking for those up to the task. Starting in Wilmington, you'll begin your hike with a 10.1-mile trek over Marble Mountain and Esther Mountain's 4,239-foot high peak before arriving at the Stairway Ridge Trailhead. Stairway Ridge Trail comprises the Whiteface Mountain Steps and is only a quarter-mile in length. But this stairway trail is not for the faint of heart- the incline is an estimated 27 flights of man-made steps, natural grade, and handrails to the top of Whiteface Mountain. And by the time you've completed this adventure, you'll have climbed a total elevation gain of over 3,600 feet.

But if hiking a little over 10 miles sounds too daunting to take on before you start climbing the actual steps, don't be discouraged. You can actually skip the first part of this hike and go straight to the base of the stairs by driving 10 minutes down the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. Just be prepared for a busy parking lot. As you can imagine, plenty of people will want to conserve their energy for the stairs alone.

Regardless of how you choose to start your hike, the views at the top of Whiteface Mountain will be worth it. In the distance, you'll see Whiteface Castle protruding from the peaks of the surrounding Adirondack Mountains and the glittering Lake Placid below.

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When to Visit Whiteface Mountain

Stone staircase on Whiteface mountain, Adirondack mountains, New York State

holerider via Getty Images

Summers in the Adirondack region bring the best hiking weather and offer the most colorful and vibrant views. It's the perfect time to tackle the Stairway Ridge Trail since it won't be too hot or cold. But visiting Whiteface Mountain isn't only for the summers, even though that's an ideal time to take on the Whiteface Mountain Steps. Whiteface Mountain's ski resort is one of the best in the region, highlighted by a new 10,000 square-foot base lodge that recently opened back in 2020. So if skiing down a mountain is more appealing to you than climbing stairs up one, visiting Whiteface Mountain in the winter might be more your speed.

And even if neither of those activities interests you, you can still catch gorgeous views only seen at the top of Whiteface Mountain without any effort. Cloudspitter Gondola rides will take you to the top of Little Whiteface. You'll see above the mountaintops and as far as New York goes, even visiting nearby Vermont on clear days.

So whether you're a local looking to escape New York's bustling cities, wanting to journey away from the East Coast, or just searching for a breath of fresh air, consider making a trip to Whiteface Mountain to see all it has to offer.

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Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 10, 2020.

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Lauren Pineda is based in Austin, Texas, and found her love for writing in local music journalism. She now enjoys writing about all the hilarious mishaps and adventures that happen when traveling somewhere for the first time and prides herself on being a budding traveler with an ambitious drive to learn more about the places she visits. Instagram: @lt.jpeg

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