Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Whiteface & Esther Mountains - Wilmington, NY - 4/20/12

Whiteface and Esther Mountains in Wilmington, NY are both on the Adirondack High Peaks list, and are both often hiked together since close together.  There are several trail options to choose from.  On Saturday, Leesa and I chose to start at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center and hike up Marble Mountain to Whiteface Mountain and then on the way back, take the herd path to Esther Mountain.  

Whiteface Mountain is the home of Whiteface Ski Area (Largest Vertical Drop East of the Rockies).  It also has an auto road which goes to within about 250 feet of the summit.  The actual summit has several buildings on it.  Since the summit is an open rock summit, there are fantastic views in all directions, provided the weather is good.

Esther's summit is pretty much in the trees.  There is a small opening looking back to Whiteface, otherwise the summit views are quite limited.

Are these emergency shelters?  It would be kind of neat to try out.

We started from the parking area at 10:15 AM.  There are no trail signs at this trailhead, but from the designated parking area, the trail isn't too hard to find.   It appears that perhaps there was once an incline railway going up to the summit of Marble Mountain.  Several old concrete piers remain and the trail is totally straight up a rocky path.  The summit of Marble Mountain is just a short .9 miles from the trailhead and we reached it in about 35 minutes.  There are some views at that location. 

There was quite a bit of blowdown from Hurricane Irene at a couple spots

From Marble, the path was no longer a straight rocky incline trail, but a normal trail winding its' way upward.
After 2.25 miles, we reached the junction with the Esther herd path, but we continued towards Whiteface.  Esther was our 2nd priority.  After another mile, the trail reached the auto road at about 4350'.  We chose to walk the auto road the remaining short distance to the summit.  The last little section of the trail was steep and somewhat icy and snowy.  The dog might have objected.  It was also starting to rain a little bit, but fortunately, that only lasted about 5 minutes.  

A second one a little ways before the junction with the Esther herd path

Leesa and Rev on the final 200 feet of stone steps to the summit

The clouds were interesting and threatening, but held off

The summit structures

When we got to the summit, we had it all to ourselves.  There were no other hikers and the auto road doesn't open up until close to Memorial Day.  Nice to have a commercialized summit to ourselves.

Rev -  just observing Lake Placid down below

We stayed on the summit for a half an hour and had some lunch and enjoyed the views.

The top!

Mike - obviously not getting Rev to sit still

There we go!

But not for long

A view of the summit

A new deck on top

The way back to summit parking

Nice stonework
After enjoying our time on Whiteface we walked the mile back to the Esther Mountain herd path and followed that to the summit of Esther.  Even though the path is supposedly not maintained, there was a nice foot bridge at one point over a swampy area.  There were no trail markers, but the path was easy to follow.

Esther Mountain
Esther Mountain summit plaque
View of Whiteface from Esther

We enjoyed the day.  The ice line was at about 3500'.  At that point, put on our micro spikes until we got to the auto road.  There was a little snow left in the shaded areas up high.  There were still no bugs on the trail, so that was great.  We are starting to see the black flies in some areas down low.  A sucessful day and trip!

Hike Stats:

Hike Distance:  10.0 miles
Hike Time:  7 hours 15 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  3975'

Trailhead Elevation:  1950'
Marble Mountain Elevation:  2733'
Whiteface Mountain Elevation:  4865'
Lookout Mountain Elevation:  4075'
Esther Mountain Elevation:  4240'
Our route shown in blue

A Google Earth look at our route


  1. Looks like a great hike! Loved your photos and recap.

    1. Thanks for the complement and for reading my post. The hike was a nice one. Great views from Whiteface.

  2. Hey Mike, nice hike! The route you followed up Marble Mtn is an old ski lift line. Marble Mountain was the site of a ski area before NYS developed the current ski center at Whiteface. The structures are rescue caches - they held a toboggan and first aid supplies.

    1. Hi Jeff - Thanks for explaining all that. Now it makes sense.

  3. Awesome views. Cute doggie. I like all your hikes. I visited and skied Whiteface a few years back and thought the views from the gondola were pretty cool. It's nice to see spring hikers out there.

    Cheers from Canada.

    1. like all the hikes except the bushwhacks!

  4. wow, I would love to do that.

  5. Hi Mike. Esther will be #45 and Whiteface #46 for me on 9/19/15. Thanks for all of your posts and photos, I used them for my final 13 peaks this year. Take care, Reese (Rochester, NY)

    1. Enjoy your finish! Thanks for reading my blog. I'm glad it's been helpful.

  6. Good Morning,
    My wife and I are going to hike Whiteface and Esther this weekend. I came across your blog today and I am wondering why you left from the Research Center? Does it cut off a few mile? Sorry I don't have a map in front of me...

    1. We've hiked Whiteface and Esther from all the trailed approaches and the shortest approach with the least elevation gain is from the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC).

  7. Those are not emergency shelters. They were used to store toboggans used to transport injured skiers when Marble Mountain ski center was in operation. They were used by the Ski Patrol. Marble Mountain closed in 1960.

    1. Thanks, yes I learned that in an earlier comment. Makes sense.

  8. Hey Mike, is parking allowed at the Atmospheric Center year round or only during the offseason (Columbus-Memorial day)?

    1. You can park there all year round.

    2. Awesome, thanks! My daughter is determined that we try Whiteface this year & this seems like it might be the best approach for us.