Big plans for Mount Van Hoevenberg

Mountain coaster, summer-winter ski trails, base lodge, snowmaking reservoir, new Cascade trailhead, new biathlon stadium in the works

Ron Konowitz, a volunteer with the 46ers, shows people a map of the rerouted Cascade Mountain trail last fall. ORDA and the DEC plan to move the Cascade trailhead to Mount Van Hoevenberg permanently. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority has developed an amendment to its unit management plan (UMP) that would update many existing facilities at the Mount Van Hoevenberg complex while also building new attractions and replacing several features.

Mount Van Hoevenberg, often nicknamed Van Ho, is off of state Route 73 outside Lake Placid. It hosted bobsled, luge, biathlon and cross-country ski races for the 1980 Winter Olympics. The facility is still in use for recreation and competition, from local to international.

Some of the updates will be built on state land within the intensive use area while others will be constructed on adjacent lands owned by the town of North Elba that are under a conservation easement.

ORDA manages all of the 1980 Olympic venues as well as the state’s ski areas.

Ski area

On the bigger side of things, an entirely new biathlon stadium would be constructed next to the current parking area for the cross-country ski center.

Four kilometers of new ski trail would also be cut, and this would be paved for training use in the summer. When combined with existing trails, the new trail would make a loop of just over 5K.

A new base lodge/welcome center would also be built.

Although the cross-country ski center has some snowmaking ability, ORDA is proposing to build a new snowmaking reservoir that would hold about 7.5 million gallons of water. An associated pump house would also be constructed to service the new ski trails.

Bobsled-luge-skeleton area

A new “mountain coaster” attraction would be built that follows the course of the 1980 bobsled track. The loading area for the mountain coaster would also be used for a new transport coaster that would take spectators up the mountain. Spectators currently have to walk or use a shuttle van.

At the top of the bobsled track, a new start house with refrigerated track would be built. It would be larger than the existing start house and would have viewing platforms for spectators.

Start houses 1 and 4 would be replaced, and the timing building would be expanded. The current media building would be turned into a medical station, and the Team USA garage would be expanded, as would a groomer garage and maintenance building. ORDA also plans on adding lighting to the main road and several of the existing parking areas.

New trailhead

One of the biggest changes for the general public would be the relocation of the Cascade Mountain hiking trail to Van Ho. The state Department of Environmental Conservation utilized a temporary reroute to Van Hoevenberg last Labor Day, and a related UMP amendment to the High Peaks Wilderness Area, also released last week, accounts for the permanent relocation of the trailhead.

The new trailhead would also serve Mount Van Hoevenberg.

This change would eliminate dangerous overuse of parking areas on Route 73 that would be permanently closed if both UMP amendments go through as written.

ORDA would also reroute part of one of the existing ski trails to move it off of private land.

APA review

The state Adirondack Park Agency will vote Thursday on whether to send this and the High Peaks UMP amendments to public comment. The APA meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

To download the full Mount Van Hoevenberg UMP amendment, go to www.apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2018/05/stateLand.htm.

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