If this is “Big Government,” readers want more. State-owned Whiteface, bigger than ever thanks to recent terrain expansion, vaults to No. 2 in the East. The Adirondack giant never lacked for vert: 3,430 feet, biggest in the East. What it needed was breadth, which is what the Lookout Mountain expansion gives it. “Great steeps,” readers note. “No crowds, long runs, great terrain”—and a No. 2 ranking for Challenge. And remember, in the 6- million–acre Adirondack Park, slopeside sprawl is forbidden, so the scenery is unspoiled. That doesn’t mean there’s no après action. Far from it, and any evaluation of Whiteface has to include the charming, authentic village of Lake Placid and its Olympic venues. Bars, restaurants and shops line Main Street, which skirts the edge of scenic little Mirror Lake. The frozen lake is crisscrossed by cross-country ski tracks; squealing kids rocket off the town toboggan ramp and out across its surface. Lodging options abound, some of them extraordinary (Lake Placid Lodge, Mirror Lake Inn, Whiteface Lodge, for starters). Summer visitors outnumber winter ones, so rooms—and bargains—are easy to find. And visitors can immerse themselves in Olympic history. In town, they can visit the museum or take a spin on Eric Heiden’s speedskating oval. Nearby, they can check out the ski jumps, nordic trails and bobsled track. The richness of offerings adds up to a No. 1 in Off-Hill Activities, along with No. 2 rankings for Dining, Après, Family Programs and Scenery. Complaints focus almost invariably on the weather; Whiteface still battles the “Iceface” stigma. But for the sufficiently hardy, it’s “a great ski mountain with a real town.” —J.C.
What’s New: Minor trail widening and maintenance. (In the wake of the expensive Lookout Mountain development—and in the midst of a recession—state legislators can be forgiven for tightening capital-improvement budgets.) In town, a new convention center is going up near the Olympic Museum.
Mandatory Run: The hike-to steeps of The Slides, if they’re open. Otherwise, try the Olympic downhill course—and imagine tucking it top to bottom.
Local Secret: Après drinks at The Cottage (part of Mirror Lake Inn). Request a window table overlooking the lake, and watch the alpenglow fade on the west side of Whiteface.