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New York’s Whiteface Mountain: Breathtaking Views, One Exciting Challenge

Views of New York at the summit of Whiteface Mountain.

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania invited weekend retreats deep into the Appalachian Mountains for hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, and more than a few bonfires. Rolling hills there are a four-wheeler’s dream, yet absolutely nothing beat long hikes on a summer day, arriving at the mountain summit with a view of the region below — Fall colors here will make you rethink everything you learned about ROY G. BIV.

The Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountains run through the eastern United States, midwestern America’s Ozarks quaintly roll, the Rocky Mountains guard the West Coast, and the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges of the Pacific Northwest stand tall. Yet among them all, New York State may hold the very best, especially if you’re more comfortable on two skis, with the Adirondack Mountains towering over upstate New York, offering some of the most beautiful views domestic travelers will find.

North of Syracuse and Albany, the Adirondack region invites visitors throughout the year in search of something a little off the beaten path. We know what “The Big Apple” of New York City offers, but it’s here, in areas like the Adirondack Seaway and Lake Champlain, where New York truly comes to life. This is where the 1980 Olympic hockey team found their footing, training at the famous Lake Placid Olympic Sites, which now welcome guests year-round.

Today in Wilmington, hockey takes a backseat to hiking. Take a drive up Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway and you’ll find a parking lot packed with hungry hikers looking to challenge what’s become one of the state’s most popular hikes: The Whiteface Mountain Steps.

Where Is Whiteface Mountain?

Wilmington, New York is your base camp for the beautiful day trip ahead. AllTrails has the details for this out-and-back, 10.1-mile trek over Marble Mountain and across Esther Mountain’s 4,239-foot high peak before arriving at the Wilmington Trailhead. (The shortcut? Drive 10 minutes down the highway where you’ll find a typically bustling parking area at the base.)

It’s here that the stairs climb to the top of Whiteface Mountain.

Whiteface Mountain Steps

Stairway Ridge Trail is only about a quarter mile in length, but it’s not for the faint of heart; The estimated incline is about 27 flights of both man-made steps, handrails, and natural grade. If you began back near the town of Wilmington for the full 10 miles of hiking trails, you’ll ultimately have a total elevation gain over 3,600 feet before the ultimate prize.

In the distance, Whiteface Castle dots the summit of Whiteface Mountain. You won’t find more breathtaking views upon arriving than that of Lake Placid calmly and idly dotting upstate New York.

Views of New York’s Adirondack Mountains

Amazing views aren’t just reserved for summer months. Whiteface Mountain’s ski resort is among the region’s very best, highlighted by a brand new, 10,000-square-foot base lodge that opened in 2020. Cloudsplitter Gondola rides to the top of Little Whiteface showcase more incredible views of New York; On clear days, you can even see nearby Vermont!

Sometimes, the beaten path isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Travelers looking for a breath of fresh air and want to journey away from the coast and New York’s bustling cities need only to look north for this hidden gem tucked away in the Adirondacks.

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