The second part of our honeymoon trip was to Lake Placid in the Adirondacks of New York state. Unfortunately, when we tell people we went to New York, they assume we mean the city, even when we differentiate by saying “state”, but I think these photos prove to you just how different upstate New York is to the Big Apple itself.
We chose Lake Placid for its gorgeous scenic views and the potential for changing autumnal colours in mid to late September – not because of the infamy of another Lake Placid! The town of Lake Placid is situated around the sides of Mirror Lake, with its namesake lake actually only having lodges, camps and the Lake Marina marina on it – the lake of Lake Placid isn’t actually really accessible except by boat or walking trail!
When we picked Lake Placid as our base for exploring the Adirondacks, I immediately started searching for things to do near Lake Placid in Google and on Pinterest. One of the first things that caught my eye was the above (and much pictured throughout this post!) “stairway to heaven” atop Whiteface Mountain. This view looked simply incredible and we had to see it in real life.
See more of our Lake Placid honeymoon posts here:
The summit of Whiteface Mountain can be accessed in two ways – but be careful not to mix them up! The one we did, and which is pictured throughout this post is the Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway. The other option is Little Whiteface, a lower peak which is reached by the Cloudsplitter Gondola. During the week we visited, the gondola wasn’t open during the week – it was such a shame as we’d planned to see the views from both, but due to the season, it was only open at weekends. It was also frustrating as we’d purchased the Olympic Sites Passport which allows you into specific Olympic locations around Lake Placid all under one price – we’d totted up the visits we wanted to do and decided it would be a good option for us, but without the gondola ride, we ended up wasting money. We just wish they’d told us when we bought the pass the limited opening times during the off-season! Nevertheless, the view from Little Whiteface looks just as spectacular, so if you have the opportunity to do it, I’d say go for it! Here’s a view down to Little Whiteface from the summit of Whiteface Mountain:
As I said, we took the option to ascend through the clouds (or, fortunately that day, lack thereof!) to the top of Whiteface Mountain via the Veterans’ Memorial Highway. Whiteface Mountain is New York’s fifth highest peak and has a road that leads you directly to the top where you’ll find a castle, a weather station and views in all directions with potential to see all the way to Vermont and Canada on clear days. From the Toll House to the summit, you rise over 2300 feet over a 5 mile road until you reach the parking area. From here, you can either take the elevator carved deep within the mountain which takes you the additional 27 stories (276 feet) to the top, or you can take the walking trail.
When we visited, however, we didn’t have this choice! The elevator is currently shut for much needed renovation, and so the walking trail it was. I was glad as it meant we got to climb the incredible steps I’d seen pictured across the internet with their unparalleled views, but I was also a little wary – 27 stories uphill at 17 weeks pregnant sounded like a pretty tough feat! We grabbed our water bottles, though, and set about making the walk.
Fortunately, we’d dressed for the walk in sturdy trainers that we’d picked especially for walking in Disney (I know – not quite the same, but those 20,000+ step days in Disney don’t count for nothing!) and clothes to keep us cool. Even though it was mid-September, we’d hit Lake Placid during something of a heatwave. While the temperatures at the bottom of the mountain were around 27C, it was fortunately a lot cooler and breezier at the top.
The walk starts off easily enough – the steps aren’t quite regular, but nonetheless, they’re paved and have a handrail. The next part was trickier – the steps disappeared and became boulders and shingle, so that the climb became more of a scramble than a walk! Even though it wasn’t the easiest walk, this was one of my favourite experiences of our whole trip. I love exploring terrain like this (it feels like an adventure!) and the views were so spectacular, they almost seemed unreal.
By the time we reached the weather station and the summit, we were a little tired but triumphant. It didn’t take long – no more than 30 minutes, and several of those were taken up with me stopping to take photos – but it was rough terrain. I’d highly recommend a good pair of shoes if you decide to do this yourself.
While we had a slightly hazy day so we couldn’t quite see Canada, we were so lucky to have a bright blue sky above us and mild temperatures in fall, meaning it was the perfect day to make the climb, but also to see the beginning of the leaves changing colours. We didn’t manage to see peak leaf season, but what we did see was beautiful enough!
And can I just say, one last time, how very impressed I was with myself for making this climb at 17 weeks pregnant? Sorry, I just have to emphasise that point for anyone who believes I can’t do anything.
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