Picture it: the year is 1887 and you’re on your way to the Adirondacks to go camping with friends. Along the way, you meet the love of your life and decide to settle down. Unfortunately, life takes some unexpected turns but you decide to carry on the legacy of your partner after they pass away and build a dreamy retreat in the mountains.
Such was the story for Henry Van Hoevenberg and his dear Josephine Schofield. The spirit of these two lives on in Lake Placid and the High Peaks Region. Mt. Jo and Heart Lake at the Adirondack Mountain Club honor Josephine. As for Mr. Henry Van Hoevenberg, many features and destinations bear his name. (Most notably for 46ers, he cut one of the first trails to Mount Marcy’s summit, which is today named the Van Hoevenberg Trail.) While the Olympics didn’t come to Lake Placid until 45 years after Van Hoevenberg’s camping trip and he passed away in 1918, Van Hoevenberg’s name lives on in Olympic history.
The Nordic and sliding center at the present-day Mount Van Hoevenberg is full of stories. Recently, the caretaker of the site, the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), made improvements to the facilities and site that will enhance the experience for international athletes and casual visitors alike. Mount Van Hoevenberg continues to be a venue for Olympic sports, fascinating history, leisure recreation activities, and so much more.
Mountain Pass Lodge
A rustic ode to the welcoming camps of the past, the new Mountain Pass Lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg is a retreat for new explorers, old friends, and hungry travelers. The brand-new 55,000 square foot, three-level building offers dining, shops, a café, space to relax (indoors and out), ticket counter for the Cliffside Coaster and Bobsled Experience, and public restrooms. Just don’t forget to look up at the cool, Olympic lighting!
Peruse gift shops to find Olympic souvenirs. Relax indoors in the lounge area overlooking the mountains or pull up an Adirondack chair outside. Grab a bite to eat at the 81-18 Café. Get the latest Nordic gear at the only SWIX Concept Retail store in North America. It’s all here at the Mountain Pass Lodge!
The building also is home to a year-round meeting space, a media center, and other competition-specific needs. For athletes, there is a weight room, running track, and an iced bobsled start ramp (with an overlooking bar! It’s a real “sip and slide.”). This is the only indoor push-start facility, for bobsled and skeleton, in the United States. Until recently, bobsled, luge, and skeleton were separated, but now the design is more unifying, and everyone will be funneled through the new Lodge.
Mount Van Hoevenberg is more than an Olympic venue; it’s a place for hiking, too! Two trails lead to the summit of this impressive peak with commanding views of the High Peaks. One of the trails begins just outside the doors of the Mountain Pass Lodge. While it’s a fun trail in any season, fall is absolutely breathtaking. The impossibly bright foliage contrasts with the deep evergreens above and below. Either trail you choose to follow (from South Meadow Road or from the Olympic Sliding Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg) leads to multiple lookouts and viewpoints.
The trail from the Olympic Sliding Complex is one of the newest trails in the Adirondacks! It was opened to the public in October 2018 and is a model for sustainable trail design. Crews continue to work on the trail today to ensure it’s built soundly and sustainably so future generations can continue to enjoy the trail.
Speaking of in the future, the popular High Peak trails to Cascade and Porter mountains are slated to be rerouted to begin at Mount Van Hoevenberg instead of on the side of the busy Route 73. This will ensure adequate and safe parking for hikers and travelers.
Mountain Coaster and other sporting upgrades
If you’re looking for thrills in Lake Placid, this is the place to be. The Cliffside Coaster is a one-of-a-kind mountain coaster where riders can learn about the inspiring Olympic history at the Lake Placid Sliding Center from NBC bobsled announcer John Morgan, enjoy incredible views, and even control personal track speeds! It opened in the fall of 2020, and has been providing new entertainment and thrills for almost a year now.
In order to prepare for the Lake Placid 2023 World University Games, there have been significant updates to Mount Van Hoevenberg, including the Mountain Pass Lodge. In addition, there is a new 8-million gallon snowmaking reservoir and an upgraded snowmaking system that now covers 5km of trails. 4km of new Nordic trails were also developed and paved to accommodate rollerskiing in the summer. (Training never ends!) The biathlon also saw some upgrades: there's a new Nordic ski stadium and a 30-row biathlon shooting range near the Lodge.
With these new upgrades, Mount Van Hoevenberg is equipped to host some of the world’s biggest events!
Whether you want to enjoy a sunny afternoon relaxing near the medal ceremony plaza or use the Mountain Pass Lodge as your basecamp for your next hike, stop by the facilities at Mount Van Hoevenberg. With space to dine, explore, shop, and relax, you’ll only have to leave to sleep!