Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in the state of New York, and one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Set apart from most of the other High Peaks, the summit offers a 360-degree view of the Adirondacks and clear-day glimpses of Vermont and even Canada, where the skyscrapers of Montreal–80 miles (130 km) away–can be seen on a very clear day.
Located in the town of Wilmington, about 13 miles (21 km) from Lake Placid, the mountain's east slope is home to a major ski area which hosted the alpine skiing competitions of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
We did a warm-up ride on the quiet country roads of Wilmington before ascending Whiteface Mountain. The country roads are nicely paved, fully of avid cyclists and friendly drivers. Nestled through rolling hills and forest you are likely to encounter some wildlife, we were lucky and saw deer and a black bear.
Once our warm-up was done, we started our Whiteface ascent. The slope and the distance on this mountain have been compared to the Alpe D’Huez in the French Alps. The ride takes you 4867 ft over 17km up the historic Whiteface Veterans’ memorial Toll Highway (toll is $10 USD for Cyclists). The climb starts in Wilmington and the grade averages 8.5% and kicks up to 10% avg almost right away after the veterans highway sign. We thought since the grade was an average of 8.5% that it must ease up after a while–it doesn’t. The 10% grade continues all the way to the park entrance (fee station) and beyond with the maximum slope being 15 % towards the top. Within the first 1.6km you climb it's almost 500 feet in elevation and by kilometer 6.5 you will have climbed almost 2,000 feet.
You will want to bring along some warm clothes (jacket or vest) since there is a drastic change in temperature between the bottom (20.6 C) and top (10 C) when we were there in June.
The traffic is calm, especially on weekdays and it's on the of best cycle-friendly routes in the area. Unfortunately, the day we road it was pouring rain which made for very slippery roads but on a dry day, the ultimate reward would be the ride down. In 2015 the road was repaved making it exceptionally smooth.
Its reported that cyclists reach speeds of 65 km/h on the straight sections and wide turns, and once past the tollbooth, speeds of up to 96 km/h are attainable. Northeastcycling.com rated the descent a five out of five for difficulty because of the speeds and occasional frost heaves that can throw riders of their bikes.
To download GPX route, click on 'View Full Version' below