On each birding trip to the Adirondacks we make our way to Whiteface Mountain. We try to visit on a clear day so that the views will be good. From the summit of Whiteface you can see all the way to Vermont, I think!
We don’t do very much birding on this part of the trip. On the drive up the mountain we’ll stop periodically to listen for Bicknell’s Thrush and look for alpine butterflies and plants. Mostly we enjoy the spectacular views along the way. The Veteran’s Memorial Highway was a depression-era public works project and is more than five miles long. Whiteface is unique in that is has a *developed* summit – a visitor’s center known as Whiteface Castle. The castle was built from granite excavated during the construction of the highway.
There is an elevator to the summit (at the end of a very long and scary tunnel into the mountain) or you can choose to take the footpath. This sign is at the trailhead and warns not to attempt the footpath unless you are physically fit. The hike ascends more than 25 stories over a fifth of a mile. Not easy, but better than the claustrophobic tunnel to the elevator. I take lots of breaks on the way up to look at alpine plants and the lichen-covered rocks, and to catch my breath!
Here I am at 4867 ft. looking flushed and glad for a place to sit down and enjoy the view. Once we’re at the peak of the mountain, we generally take a break for lunch and take lots of photos. One year I took nearly a whole roll of film with pics of nothing but rocks.
There is always an interesting assortment of tourists milling around and one year the building that houses the elevator at the summit had a few Luna moths clinging to the windows! I’ve only ever seen Luna moths in the Adirondacks, so it is a treat to find them. On one visit the toll building at the bottom of the mountain was covered with them and other interesting large moths. We watched little chickadees coming in from the wood’s edge and flying off with the moths in their bills.