What to know about Mt. Van Ho

Of course, everyone is aware of the world-famous Whiteface Mountain, home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, but did you know that Whiteface isn’t the only Olympic site in the area? Mt. Van Hoevenberg is also an Olympic venue that shouldn’t be overlooked. Mt. Van Ho (as the locals call it) not only offers numerous attractions and things to do, but also offers some robust hiking trails and amenities that can be enjoyed for free. Let’s get into some frequently asked questions and get you on your way to the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Hiking Center today!

Aerial view of forest and the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Campus

How do I get there and where do I park?

Plug ‘31 Van Hoevenberg Way, Lake Placid, NY 12946’ into your GPS to find your way to the Hiking Center and Mountain Pass Lodge. If you plan on hiking, then be sure to park in Lot 3. Parking is free, and charging stations are also available.

A hiker registers at trailhead

What can I expect on the East Trail hike?

The East Trail is a heavily trafficked 4.7 mile out-and-back hiking trail. According to Alltrails.com, the trail is rated as moderate difficulty. The mountain itself is 2,939 feet tall, and the trail from start to summit has an elevation gain of 892 feet. The trailhead and registration kiosk are accessible from the Mountain Pass Lodge. 

Opened in 2018, the East Trail boasts some of the newest and most pristine trails that the Adirondacks (or anywhere) have to offer. The East Trail is an example of the gold standard in trail sustainability and quality. Open year round, the trail offers some of the best summit views you can find in the Lake Placid area, which features the Olympic Ski Jumps and the village of Lake Placid itself. 

Hiker standing on trail looking at the sun shining through the trees

Are there other trails that I can hike here?

Yes, there are! Once you arrive at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Hiking Center, you’ll realize that the East Trail isn’t the only trail offered. Sleeping Giant (2.7 miles, more difficult), Nested Loop (1.75 miles, more difficult), Lover’s Lane (1.4 miles, easier), Hi-Notch (3.3 miles, most difficult), and walking trails are all options from the hiking center. There’s truly something for everyone to hit the trails at their own speed here.

View of a marsh from the trail

I forgot something for the hike. What do I do now?

No worries! The Mountain Pass Lodge has everything you could possibly need for your hike! Here you’ll find the Mountain Pass Mercantile and Swix Concept Store to take care of anything you forgot or anything that you need! So, if you need the latest in apparel from reputable brands, supplies like sunscreen and bug spray, or hiking gear, then this is your one-stop shop. It’s not often that you find a trail (anywhere in the Adirondacks) that offers this type of convenience at the start of your hike, so make sure that you take advantage! 

The Mountain Pass Lodge

I want to eat now. Where can I go? 

Again, no worries! You can stay “on campus” and take care of all your dining needs! Inside the Mountain Pass Lodge, you will find the 81-18 Cafe. The Cafe offers grab-and-go options, fresh meals, and vegan options that will fuel your hike and refuel you after the fun.

On the third floor of the Mountain Pass Lodge is where you find Henry’s Tavern. The tavern offers a full service bar and custom Adirondack-style cocktails. The cafe isn’t the only place to eat as lunch is offered here as well. Henry’s Tavern invites you to “come for the activities, stay for the drinks!” 

A plate of food and glass of wine on a bar

What if I don’t want to hike?

So hiking isn’t your thing, but the rest of your party insists on hitting the trails. What can you do then? In short, plenty! How about the Cliffside Coaster? According to the Mt. Van Hoevenberg official website, “Our coaster puts you in the driver’s seat of the 1980 Olympic Sliding Track for a ride where you control the speed through sharp corners, cliffside banks, and long winding track.” What could be cooler than reliving Olympic glory at your own speed? 

If your need is for speed, then look no further than the Bobsled Experience. This is one of the few places on the planet where you can experience the sport for yourself and see what it’s like to reach speeds of over 50 miles per hour! 

While both the bobsled and coaster are experiences of a lifetime, maybe they just aren’t in the budget. Biking, rock climbing, trail running, and the Olympic Tour are more affordable options or even free! It’s worth noting that if you intend on doing the bobsled, the coaster, or any climbing, it’s recommended that you make a reservation.

A biker rides under a bridge

Is there anything else I should know about hiking the MVH East Trail?

If you’re ready to hit the trails, there are a few more things that we should tell you. If you plan on hiking in the spring or the summer, bugs and mud can be an issue. It’s a good idea to bring bug spray along with you or buy some at the on-campus stores.

This is a busy trail, so you’re almost guaranteed to find other hikers along the way and at the summit. It’s important to be courteous to other hikers and share the trail respectfully.

Your canine friends are also welcome to explore with you! If you do bring your dog, make sure to have them on a leash as it is a requirement here at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Hiking Center.  

Like any other trail in the Adirondacks, you want to make sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles, and play your part in keeping the Adirondack ecosystem strong and healthy! 

A hiker looks over the view at a mountain's summit

Now that you're up to speed, it's time to choose your own. Try one, or all, of the hiking trails offered here at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Hiking Center and find the one that's right for you. Then once you've had your fun here, it's time to find the right place to stay, the best place to eat, and some fun off the trails. That's all you need to know about Mt. Van Ho; now it's time to hit the trails and go!