LAKE PLACID -- Next year is the 50th anniversary of skiing at Whiteface.

A gift at the half-century mark to Adirondack skiers and riders will be the first cuts for Lookout Mountain, a new series of trails and 52 acres of glades.

Ted Blazer, chief executive officer for Olympic Regional Development Authority, and Jay Rand, general manager at Whiteface, presented a first look at how the expansion will evolve in the next two years.

"We're adding three expert trails, one two-mile intermediate trail and 52 acres of glades -- all hardwood floors," Rand told the ORDA Board of Directors recently.

A fixed-grip triple lift will carry skiers to the new area east of the Easy Street trail.

A specially planned, two-mile Lookout Trail will circumnavigate the inner ridge, giving skiers and riders a "good cruising trail," Blazer said.

"It will be a wilderness experience for our visitors."

Keeping intermediate skiers happy and taking pressure off Excelsior, another mid-level trail, will expand the ski experience, Blazer said.

"We're going to gain an incredible amount of terrain. The glades will be more open than any of the glades we have now."

"It really holds the snow well," Rand said of the area where the glades will go. "There's a lot of natural snow."

Whiteface, known for remaining "au naturel" without bulldozing to resculpt the mountainside, will max out at 25 miles, the limit allowed for ski-area expansion inside the Adirondack Park.

But Whiteface is designed with all trails returning to center, said board member Serge Lussi.

"Families can all ski back to a central point, which makes it an easy and fun area.

A circa-1940s camp called Porcupine Lodge will be opened up for Lookout skiers and riders.

Blazer showed a photo of the rustic place, dry and unpainted.

"We're going to take some chairs and tables up, nothing elaborate. It's good to go," he said, as the board chuckled.

The addition of Lookout Mountain trails will take two years to complete.

Trail construction and snow piping will begin shortly, with the lift line going in next summer.

Work at the ski area above 2,800 feet will stop from June to August during sensitive Bicknell's thrush nesting season.

Whiteface designers and the Department of Environmental Conservation have worked in concert with environmental groups to monitor the rare songbird's habitat continually through the expansion.

Lookout Mountain is expected to open in 2009.

kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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