Whiteface, Lookout and Esther Mountains

HARD 70 reviews
#3 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

1 day ago

Beautiful Day Sunday 10/14. The first two miles got the legs burning and lungs working. Great Views from Marble Mountain. Enjoyed a muddy trip over to snow frosted trees on Esther. The contrast of snow topped pines and color changed foliage below made for great pictures.

As we headed up to Whiteface, we had views for days. Clear skies and low winds made the top a great place for lunch. I'd strobgly reccomend microspikes or crampons for the rest of the season. The rocks above 4000 feet were quite icy.

GPS said 10.4 miles. Took 6.5 hours including 45 minutes of breaks. *Spent the day with our 6'5 runner friend leading* allow 7-8 hours

hiking
11 days ago

First mile of so up Marble is pretty rocky and straight. Some great views where it meets the trail up from the Wilmington Reservoir - foliage was at peak and absolutely spectacular. Then it was a pretty wet, rocky slog all the way to Esther. The side trail to Esther is basically half a mile of mud to get to a wooded summit with a plaque. If you’re not doing the 46 I wouldn’t bother. The trail up to Whiteface, on the other hand, has tons of great views, especially once you approach the wall below the highway. On the day I visited the summit of Whiteface was clouded over but I did get a lot of great views on the way up.

hiking
1 month ago

The view from Whiteface is fantastic! Walking around the summit you'll get a 360 degree view that on a clear day lets you see Montreal. There's a short dip from the parking lot after which the first mile or so is a steep incline following a tow path. There is some scrabbling toward the top of Whiteface after you pop up by the road, but otherwise it's a path with some rockier sections. The spur off to the summit of Esther is the easiest part-- it's a rolling forest path. No view from Esther, just the plaque letting you know you got there.

hiking
1 month ago

I can't lie, this one kicked our butts! Started at the reservoir at 7am, before the parking lot gets full. Marble Mt. seemed like it was never going to end! The little break at the top of Marble was much appreciated, and the going to Esther was much easier after that. Made it to Esther in 3 hours. Not much to see from the top of Esther and the trail was VERY muddy. Trail back up to Whiteface wasn't bad. We made it to the summit of Whiteface at 5 hours. Cloudy with no views, unfortunately. Headed back down and made it back to the car at 9 hours after a slow downhill- we are very cautious on the downhills. I never know how people go so fast! Total time: 9 hours Total Distance: 13.5 miles

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked Whiteface and Esther on a hot and hazy Saturday. I started from the reservoir (Wilmington Trail) which made the hike a tad longer with more vertical.

The reservoir route gives you a gradually climbing warm up section on a woodsy trail and then gets down to business after a couple of miles. On the whole I found the trail quality quite typical for most of the hike. It gets a little wacky (mostly piled boulders) when you hit the road area. Once past that, the open ridge section up to the summit is beautiful with 360 views while you hike. There were dozens of tourists at the top but it was kind of a fun scene. Lots of people to meet and help with photos. Was about 10 degrees (C) cooler at the top.

It's a lot of vertical so start early and be patient or its a long slog. I spent almost an hour at the top for lunch so the whole hike took me about 8 hours. Went through 3+ liters of water. My knees were very happy to see the bottom ;-)

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked on Friday, 8/24. This trail was a lot of fun, but probably a bit ambitious for me as a beginner 46er just 9 months out from ACL surgery and three weeks after a mild ankle sprain on the same leg.

This was my second high peaks hike and I set out with about 5 liters of water and changes of socks and shirts as well as cold weather apparel and emergency gear. I really only needed the water and a snack. Don’t overpack in the summer.

I started slow on the Marble trail at 745 and took tons of breaks up the climb. I made the summit at 845 AM. There were some very nice hikers who were bringing their pup up to Whiteface there, and we advised them on the summit location.

Then, I hit the hardest park of the climb, the hike between Marble and the Esther split. This portion of the trail was less steep than Marble but very uneven (trouble for me since my footing was so important). My climbing partner, also suffering from balky knees, decided to turn around at this portion.

I made the fork on schedule and chose to go to Esther first - I got to Lookout’s indistinct summit at 1039 and then made Esther at 1123. The path was very muddy and I had to patiently slog directly through in order to ensure solid footing. I lost a good portion of time and energy at Esther, and I think a beginner is better off doing this after Whiteface.

I made the turnaround and, despite the advice of a few well intentioned trail friends who told me to turn around based on my tired and muddy appearance, pressed onto the summit of Whiteface.

It took me two hours to make the road up to Whiteface from Esther, significantly longer than my trail plan. I would’ve turned around at the road but these great guys from PA convinced me I’d get up no problem.

I hit the final ridge and the precipitous drops off the side and breathtaking views were really worth it. If you want to hike and get a summit but are afraid of falling, the Whiteface trail is not for you.

I made the summit at 145, approximately 9.6 miles according to my activity tracker. The return was 5 miles down, so I’d suggest a distance revision to 14 miles for this hike.

As a piece of encouragement for beginner hikers, there’s no shame in trying and doing your best and knowing your limits. But trust the experienced hikers around you and don’t fear turning around or cutting something out of you cannot manage.

I chose Whiteface because the road gave me options near the top of a very high summit. I’m glad I went up the traditional route, but I don’t regret stopping to talk and taking longer to get work there. It’s about the journey and the story, not just the summit.

hiking
2 months 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
2 months 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.

2 months 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.

2 months 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
2 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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
4 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
4 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
5 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
6 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
6 months ago

great challenging hike...

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11 days ago

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