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Seeking Whiteface/Esther Hiking Advice

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  • Seeking Whiteface/Esther Hiking Advice

    Hi There,

    For our 17th annual winter High Peaks camping trip, we were thinking of trying to tackle Whiteface and Esther (our list of remaining peaks is getting short).

    Would anyone be able to help us plan an outing with the following features?
    -one or two overnights (we usually drive, hike in and camp Friday night, hike and camp Saturday, and then head out and drive home Sunday.
    -preferably a loop (or maybe traverse?) rather than out and back, or at least a partial loop (we could shuttle a car)
    -prefer not to carry a full pack all of the way, though I know that this may make a loop/traverse impossible. I suppose I would be more interest in carrying the pack if it made the hike more interesting, etc.
    -we usually snowshoe, but thinking about skiing up/down (with maybe a snowshoe to the summit). For instance, has anyone skied up the road (assuming it is not plowed this winter?) and skied down the trail on Whiteface that crosses the Wilmington Trail (also called on the Whiteface ski map "The Wilmington Trail")?

    I recognize that it is probably impossible to meet all of the above goals. I suppose it is a trade-off between a potentially more interesting hike along the trail from the southern trail head, or a ski up the road. Also a trade off on how far we want to carry the full packs, as opposed to establishing a base camp and hitting the summits from there.

    Any thoughts on the best/most interesting way to do this?



  • #2
    I think the only designated camping site, a Lean-to, is on the trail that starts at Whiteface Landing it also passes Connery Pond. Might have to walk from Rt86 in the winter. And that trail probably gets little or no traffic in the winter.

    There aren't any designated campsites on the trails that connect to the Wilmington Trail...either the from the Wilmington Reservoir or the path up Marble Mt.

    Lots of people ski the Memorial Highway. If you have a backcountry ski kit with skins(recommended). You could climb to Whiteface on skis, do and out and back to Esther, and ski back down.



    • #3
      Ski into the CooperKill leanto from the Bonnieview Rd [its a climb] or near Whiteface Toll Rd [much more flat] and then on the next day do your Whiteface/Esther trip then ski back to the leanto. The trail from the leanto to BonnieView was broke out Saturday. There is also a skiable slide below CooperKill if you are accomplished. Be forewarned-the Cooperkill leanto is very windy and the highest in the it will be cold and snowy if any place is.
      The Whiteface Rd is quite skiable.


      • #4
        There is actually a designated tent site in the Flume Trail Network in the Wilmington Wild Forest, located just off the River Trail a short distance from the trailhead on Route 86 (at least there was when I was there in June 2016). I don't know how obvious it would be to find in winter, but it's no more than a 5 minute walk from the parking area. You might want to call the local ranger to get more specific details. Most of those trails are generally more for mountain biking and don't get much use in the winter (except Flume and Bear Den), but the location is in between the ASRC and Connery Pond trailheads, so maybe you could use it as your base camp, set up your day hike traverse with 2 cars, then return to your camp. See the section for "Camping" on the DEC website at: and more details and a map at:

        Bonus: McDougals Pub (below the Hungry Trout) is within walking distance!
        We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige


        • #5
          Thank you all for the responses. We aren't quite sure of our plans yet (we may go for a different mountain), but I appreciate the ideas!