East Coast Road Trip 2014 Banner

Who Knew About Whiteface?

Whiteface static image 2

Let’s get right to the point, Whiteface is pretty bloody awesome. But who knew?!  They just don’t get the press that they deserve, but then again that’s half the reason why we went there! The bike park has a serious amount of vertical (2,476 feet) between the top and bottom of the gondola. That’s over 700 feet more than Killington Bike Park, and 400 more than the World Cup venue of Mont Sainte Anne! A gondola lift will take you to the top, although it’s actually the top of “Little Whiteface”, the main Whiteface Mountain peak being just off to the side, reaching an additional 1,200 feet higher.

(Heli view from the base looking up at Little Whiteface Mountain)

There are only 3 different grades of trail here, green, blue and black, but it’s serious business off the top, with only black trails available. And we’d probably call the Cliffs of Insanity trail a double black when compared to similar trails at other bike parks. It is a very technical rocky descent in the trees, with steep sections and numerous small drops that are the exact height to introduce a nagging doubt as to whether or not you would get away with rolling them. The route to Cliffs of Insanity takes you down Evil Empire, a loose, rocky trail running straight down the ridgeline that is lightening-fast if you let the brakes off.

(Photo credit to Aaron Ingrao / Rider Elias Ingraham)

There’s a very cool feature that we’ve not seen at any other bike park anywhere, sat just at the intersection with the Cliffs of Insanity trail. A metal box sits on a wooden post containing inner-tubes, tire levers, and a pump! Flats must be such a common issue on this trail that they’ve come up with a novel way to help you out to avoid a large hike. And it’s an honor system, take what you need, pay for it when you reach the bottom, and if you’re heading up for another lap, then drop the replacement in the box so no one else gets stranded. Neat.

(Photo credit to Aaron Ingrao / Rider Elias Ingraham)

(Couldn't get enough of the wall ride feature)

Although there’s nothing for a beginner to ride off the top of the mountain, there is much more lower down. To access the lower mountain Whiteface operates a shuttle bus that take riders to a mid-mountain point, where the gradient is far less steep and there are plenty more options for the less advanced rider. Mike and Elias seem to have done so much with so little and there are plenty of manmade features that you’d expect from a bigger more established bike park. The new resort management is more MTB friendly, so the guys are looking to develop a flow trail from the mid-mountain shuttle drop. Ideally, there would be more intermediate single-track off the top, but it’s a long and expensive process to achieve that, especially on a mountain this big, so it could be a little while before that happens.

(Photo credit to Aaron Ingrao / Iconic waterfall drop)

There certainly are plans to put in a pump track at the base. There’s actually a ghost of an old pump track, a little way up the mountain that you can spot underneath the gondola. The location is not ideal, so the plan is to relocate it to the base…where it will be easier to play on, while in-between laps or drinking beers.

(Tuesday night jam sesh)

There is a small bike shop on site, but it has limited stock. There are rentals that consist of Giant Glorys, Reigns and some hardtails, plus a couple of 24 and 20 inch bikes for the kids. Lessons and guides are available for $75 per hour, but you need to pre-book as this is a small operation, so they do not have the staff of the bigger resorts, where there might be a team of instructors on hand waiting (a la Sugarbush). In fact, keeping it in the family, Elias’ mom and dad chip-in where they can to help out, manning the desk for lift passes or even driving the shuttle (big thanks to Marcelle for running us around!). The shop is a great place to hangout, with a sofa area, magazine table covered in old issues of Decline and other publications going back years. They even had MTB videos playing on a small TV showing Red Bull Rampage events from 10 years ago.

(Elias busy working in the bike shop)

(For your reading and viewing pleasure)

There’s a great vibe at the mountain base, with plenty of kids activities like a bag jump and a huge open deck with a bar and live music every Tuesday night. We chilled out and drank beer while the very cool band Annie in the Water kept everyone entertained.

(Post crash beer cheers, how yea doing Aaron?)

Continuing our running theme of finding the best swimming holes as well as bike parks, there’s a real contender here for best so far! Only about 500m down the road from the Whiteface mountain turn-off, just by the Whiteface/Lake Placid KOA, you’ll find The Flume Fall, a rushing torrent of water with more launch sites for jumping-in than any spot we’ve hit on the ECRT. However, be warned, after heavy rain the water volume is huge and the power enormous, so be careful when you go for a swim.

(Local watering hole)

(Local watering hole)

About 15 minutes drive down the road in the other direction, you’ll get to Lake Placid, twice host ‘city’ of the Winter Olympic Games, first in 1932 and then again in 1980. This is a bustling tourist town with lots going on: bars, restaurants, college hockey and rugby tournaments…etc! It is a great place to stay, with plenty of action. You could probably spend a week here and the drive over to Whiteface is no problem at all.

(Breakfast in Lake Placid, might we recommend New Leaf? Lake Placid's only organic coffee house.)

The last race event at Whiteface was a Pro GRT back in 2011, but there are plans to hold races here again soon, and they certainly have a huge mountain with very technical trails to put on something special! Whiteface is still open for a few more weeks too, right up to Canadian thanksgiving on the 13th of October. So, you still have time to get there and check it out for yourself if you can. Definitely one of the best surprises on the ECRT so far!

Back to articles