Whiteface, Lookout and Esther Mountains

HARD 44 reviews
#2 of 14 trails in

Whiteface, Lookout and Esther Mountains is a 9.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Wilmington, New York that offers the chance to see wildlife. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for hiking and trail running. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
9.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,818 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

trail running

forest

views

wildlife

muddy

rocky

snow

hiking
4 days ago

Did this on 8/5, one of the hottest days of the year. It was more difficult than I had remembered the first time I had done it but I haven’t been hiking as much lately. Took us 7.5 hours, including at least 30 minutes at the top mingling with the tourists and enjoying the stellar views.

hiking
5 days ago

It wasn’t terribly difficult. I found the first half to be quite a bit of a workout but nothing terrible for those in shape. We summited Esther after around 2.5 hours and hit Whiteface an hour and a half or so after that. The views on Esther were some of the worst I’ve seen on a hike. The mountaintop is entirely wooded. It was very muddy the day we hiked it making this trek somewhat less enjoyable, but that’s part of the journey. Whiteface would have had some great views if it wasn’t for the fact that we were inside a cloud and couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us. I wouldn’t do Esther again and wouldn’t recommend it at all unless you’re going for 46. I wouldn’t mind doing Whiteface again but I’m much more looking forward to skiing down it than I am climbing again.

7 days ago

Excellent hike even with no views at the summits; windy and misting as soon as we hit 4,000ft. The first 0.9 up Marble Hill was unrelenting with one long steep pitch littered with small rocks. After that the rest was a breeze, until having to descend the last two miles or so got pretty rough on the knees. Esther was a magical detour, peaceful, quiet and easy to follow the unmarked trail. After a quick ascent things start to descend a while and after consulting the map we confirmed we were still on the correct path. Not terribly muddy on 8/1 as we've had the very dry summer. All in all, I consider this more of moderate hike despite length (8.5 hrs including an hour worth of food and summit breaks.) I'm not the most experienced hiker and haven't trained for this but didn't once feel like this was insurmountable. Giant Mountain made me doubt my abilities but Whiteface and Esther were completely doable without making me nervous.

26 days ago

Hiked his on 7/20. Early start and the conditions were perfect. Lots of bugs that didn’t seem too concerned with us but rather just buzzing around at light speed. You pretty much get to work soon after the hike begins with a mile long vertical grind up Marble Mt. Once you get past that the trail gets a bit less intensive. There are quite a few smaller rocks on the trail that easily roll under foot but it makes the speed of the hike a bit faster than walking over larger rocks and boulders. Coming down the small rocks can be challenging. The trail over to Ester is very simple and quick. After that the hike up to Whiteface is moderate difficulty and has spectacular views at the summit. Enjoy all the activity at the summit! Took us right got around 8 hrs and we’re pretty slow and deliberate.

hiking
1 month ago

My family and myself went through this trail and the whole round trip ended up being about ~11 miles according to our two satellite garments. Overall for a pretty inexperienced family it took us just under 8 hours to complete both of the peaks and make it back to our car. Esther had a disappointing view but it was made up for at the top of Whiteface. I would highly recommend this to other families or other groups as it is doable and a great experience.

hiking
1 month ago

Completed this hike 7/7/18 and it was a challenging but very rewarding trail. My first tip would be, although maybe obvious to some who know the area, that the trail begins on the side of the road where there is a bench. There is a sign at the bottom of the bench that says "trail" with an arrow pointing in the right direction. Well, we walked right past it and all the way around the roundabout before we realized......I parked right next to it! Maybe less microbrew the night before a hike may be in order. Once you descend for a bit Marble Mountain will begin in earnest, and I have hiked quite a few steep trails. This one ranks up there, it is relentless. But along the way there are several cement blocks on either side of the trail for you to rest on if needed. Very little in terms of view until you reach a large cement block on the right. That is where you can get the first view, and it really does help to keep you motivated. From there you will continue with a moderately steep trail until the large pile of rocks. The trail to Esther is on the right and easy to find. From here the trail will get narrow and very muddy so be prepared for that, especially if it has been raining prior to your trip. It is an easy trail though in terms of elevation gain. Very little in terms of view but you cross a beautiful bog along the way. And then suddenly, you are on the summit. The only view is of Whiteface but makes for an interesting picture. Also, it provides motivation for the hike still to come. Double back down the trail and back to the stone pile and you're off to Whiteface. From here it is a fairly typical ridge line walk with some ups and downs but nothing too crazy. There are some cool picture opportunities as you pass the ski lift on the left. And its a great ret spot. As you approach the huge stone wall of the highway there is a bit of a challenge climbing up a few rocks and boulders. But this is where the views really begin, you can almost forget that you are still ascending. Once you are above the highway it is open views in every direction to the summit. Absolutely breathtaking on a clear day! The summit was crowded, more so than I like but you will have the satisfaction of having climbed your way to the top. Inside the observatory there are a bunch of chairs that make a great place to fuel up before starting your descent. There was no water available unless you hiked down to the shop. We passed on that as we had enough for the return trip anyway. The descent back down to the intersection with the Esther Mountain trail was "Cake", looking back at the experience now, compared to what Marble Mountain will do to you. It IS as steep as you remembered it being on the way up and will be a mile your quads, ankles and knees will remember the next day! We lamented its "soul crushing" nature all the way back to the car (a bit dramatic but it didn't feel that way at the time). Second tip: don't forget to turn at the gravel road heading uphill to stay on the trail back to your vehicle. We did miss this and ended up hiking a half a mile or so down the snowmobile trail marked with blue trail markers. This was likely because we were still whining about Marble Mountain and daydreaming about the beers we earned. All in we finished in just a tick under 7hrs. Used 5L of water between two of us, bugs were non-existent (pleasant surprise).

hiking
1 month ago

Challenging full day trip. Tough out the gate with steep elevation gain to get to Mt Marble, with some false peaks on the way. Trail splits with Esther to the right with some muddy sections and many, MANY bugs of all kinds. Esther’s main view is of Whiteface itself, and it looks quite far knowing you’ll end up there in a few hours. Back on main trail to Whiteface is flat to moderate until last 1/2 mile with sudden elevation gain where rock climbing skills are handy. Views from Whiteface are simply stunning. Some complain about tourists who simply drove up the mountain, but I was able to enjoy the view quite well since I was satisfied with the climb. Note: at the time, water and bathrooms were unavailable at the weather observatory, but a short hike down to the castle will provide both.

hiking
1 month ago

Started at the Wilmington reservoir parking. GPS mileage of 12.4m and RT 7:30. From the reservoir trailhead, the first mile is gentle grade along some predominantly mnt bike trails, which then accents Marble Mnt. The hike up marble and to the Esther junction is a consistent climb, with nothing being to technical. Hike into Esther wasn’t bad, trail was easily identified and there were some great views of the whiteface summit. Hiking up to whiteface from the Esther junction looked daunting but wasn’t bad. You’ll pass the ski lift sight, a meander if the veteran highway and the summit is visible from that point toward.

Sitting at the summit you will be greeted by all the tourists that paid the $16 to drive up there and will mostly likely be cheerful, clean, and wanting to take thousands of photo opportunities. The view is spectacular, if you can look beyond the fact that it could be a crowded summit.

Decent was consistent

There are no water crossings and 4L of water was sufficient for me.

hiking
2 months ago

Left from the research center at about 6 A.M. with very rainy and wet weather. The first mile or so going up the old ski trail is the hardest, and is most definitely the steepest. Trail after that to the fork is moderate with a few steep spots. Trail up to Esther is very easy to follow, despite not being marked. Because of the rain, the trail up the Esther was mostly water and tons of mud. View at the top was disappointing due to cloud cover, vegetation at the top makes it hard to see also. Decided to hike Whiteface on another day and reached the research center at about 10 A.M. All in all it was a pretty easy trail, but I would definitely recommend boots.

hiking
2 months ago

May 26th, 2018. Hiked this trail despite the chance for thunderstorms. Luckily the storm missed us and cleared up just enough to catch some views at the top. The Whiteface trail is 95% clear of snow and ice, and the mud wasn't really an issue. The trail to Esther however is a mud pit. This trail is not glamorous, it's straight up the mountain.

hiking
3 months ago

May 5, 2018. We started at the Atmospheric Research Center - just my 12 years old son and me, with snowshoes on our packs. Trail was dry and beautiful -- misty morning with some spitting rain. A few muddy spots. After the Marble Mountain summit where the ski lift used to end, we saw more ice. The ice started to accumulate and it was hard to walk, sometime we had to pull ourselves up by the trees on the edge of the trail and thinking "how will I come down this." People with microspikes passed us. Then snow started to replace the ice at upper elevations. We put on our snowshoes, which have metal teeth beneath, and things got much better. The bootpack right now is very narrow, and if we stepped on either side one leg would slide off and twist you while your other leg still had purchase -- tough walking... keep one foot in front of the other and be careful where the bootpack is crumbling. We post-holed in more then 3' - 4' of snow. My got one leg in so deep we had to dig it out -- even with my help, we couldn't pull him out of the compacted snow. I post-holed to my waist several times. Snowshoes were helpful, but very awkward if you slid off the boot pack. I wrenched one knee near the top. The arete is magnificent right now -- some snow still around, but many rocks exposed and the weather turned clear just as we were getting up there. We reached the summit, but I was unable to go back down the trail because of the pain in my knee and we had to give up on Esther, which we were saving for the descent. At that point I could only take small linear steps, so we walked down the road, 5.5 miles (I think) of steep downhill pavement back to our car (which is nearly harder on your legs than taking a trail!). The road is mostly clear of snow but not yet open to cars, and the amazing Iron People were already riding up it on their road bikes.
We recommend you take microspikes and snowshoes at this point. Snowshoes alone might be enough given how much snow is still on top and if it doesn't freeze again. They bite nicely into the icy spots. Given the forecast, we think there will be some snow for at least another couple of weeks, particularly in the shaded trails on upper elevations.

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing hike. The trail up whiteface was great and well maintained. keep in mind esther is unmaintained but you'd be hard pressed to get lost on the way there as the herd path is well worn. Just turn right at the cairn. As of 4/10 the trail is clear of snow at the bottom but 500 feet up is mostly ice with a thin layer of snow on top. i recommend wearing crampons and i dont think micro spikes will cut it. deeper snow at the 3,000 ft above sea level mark, but the trail was packed enough i didnt need snow shoes. might change with warmer weather. The ridge towards the top of whiteface looks intimidating but its totally manageable. Did this for the 46er challenge and 10/10 will do again after i finish (in warmer weather hopefully)

hiking
4 months ago

great challenging hike...

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