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Esther Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway

  Whiteface from summit of Esther
Says Kevin Corcoran

Esther from Wilmington Trail ascending Whiteface
Says Kevin Corcoran

Esther (left) and Whiteface from Union Falls Pond
Says Kevin Corcoran

Esther Mountain is the northernmost of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, checking in at 4,240 feet. Esther Mountain is almost always tackled via the Wilmington Trail that takes hikers up the northeast side of Whiteface Mountain, the 5th highest
    of the 46 High Peaks.

There are two entry points to the Wilmington Trail. In 2006, I accessed the Wilmington Trail from the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center parking lot, which is located about 2 1/2 miles up the Whiteface
Mountain Memorial Highway. From here the hiker begins on a trail that climbs the slopes of the former Marble Mountain Ski area. After just under a mile of steep climbing, you will pick up the Wilmington Trail that ascends Whiteface. After another 1. 2 miles of moderately steep to steep climbing, you will come to a ''herd path'' on the right that ascends Esther. Taking a right onto the herd path, you are now officially climbing the trailless Esther (no trail markers;  
just worn paths - many of which are dead ends - that eventually take you to the summit).

Leaving the Wilmington trail, the herd path up Esther immediately climbs steeply up another long overgrown ski slope formerly known as Lookout Mountain. Unless you are aware that you're hiking up what used to be a ski slope, you'd never know. The former ski mountain has been reclaimed by wildnerness.

The hiker climbs perhaps 1/2 mile up the herd path before descending for about 3/10 of a mile into a col. Once you bottom out in the wet, muddy col, the hiker faces a moderately steep to steep 6/10 of a mile up Esther's southern flank. Once on top, the hiker is greeted by a primarily wooded summit, with decent views limited to the south and southwest. The good news is that the opening to the south/southwest provides a very good look at Whiteface Mountain. Many if not most people who tackle Esther continue on to Whiteface, the ascent of which is described separately.

If you were turn around at this point and retrace your climb, you'd be looking at a total hike of approximately 7 miles. If you were to begin your hike further down the Wilmington Trail at the Wilmington Reservoir - a popular starting point - you would be looking at a 9. 4 mile hike.

Again, many if not most folks combine Esther and Whiteface, since these two mountains are isolated from the other 44 High Peaks. A combined Esther/Whiteface hike demands either a 13 mile jaunt or a 10. 6 mile trek, depending on if you start your day at the Wilmington Reservoir or Atmospheric Sciences Research Center. Some hikers - including myself - combine Esther and Whiteface, and then descend Whiteface via the highway. This results in a slightly longer total trip, but you're rewarded with nicer and longer duration views from the highway. It's just a matter of whether you're a purist, or not.

Esther is a decent climb. It is challenging, and it requires that the hiker know how to use a compass and be able to read a topographic map should you end up losing the herd path. Be prepared for lots of mud on the herd path up Esther, however.


Says Kevin Corcoran

Roundtrip Distance 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain 2,950 ft.
This peak is trailless, meaning a portion or all of the route up the mountain is via an unmarked trail. For this particular mountain, the typical route is known as a ''herd path'' which is not much more than a worn, but unmarked trail. Some of the herd paths are easy to follow, others are not. In many instances the hiker will travel down a false herd path and eventually have to correct his/her course via backtracking. For these particular mountains, it is imperative that the hiker carry a compass (and know how to use it) and topographic map.
Says Kevin Corcoran



BIGGER SIZE PICTURE HERE




BIGGER SIZE PICTURE HERE




BIGGER SIZE PICTURE HERE




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OUTDOORS_GUIDE
These outdoors activities are available near Esther Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway.
 Trails Near Esther Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway:
Whiteface Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway, Essex County , 0 miles away
Silver Lake Mountain Trail, Clinton County , 6 miles away
Cascade Mountain-Route 73 - Cascade Lakes, Essex County , 9 miles away
Porter Mountain-Route 73 - Cascade Lakes, Essex County , 9 miles away
Mt. Haystack-''The Garden,'' Keene Valley, Essex County , 10 miles away
 Campgrounds Near Esther Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway:
North Pole Campground, Wilmington , 1 miles away
Lake Placid/Whiteface MT KOA, Wilmington , 1 miles away
KOA Kampgrounds, Wilmington , 2 miles away
Wilmington Notch Camp Ground, Upper Jay , 3 miles away
High Peaks Base Camp, Upper Jay , 5 miles away
 Whitewater Near Esther Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway:
Ausable River - West Branch, Essex County , 1 miles away, Class I-III+ - 11 miles long (Wilmington to Ausable Forks)
Ausable River - West Branch, Essex County , 1 miles away, Class V+ - 0.25 miles long (Flume)
Ausable River - West Branch, Essex County , 3 miles away, Class V - 2 miles long (High Falls Gorge to Flume)
Ausable River - West Branch, Essex County , 4 miles away, Class V+ - 0.25 miles long (High Falls Gorge)
Little Black Brook, Clinton/ Essex County , 5 miles away, Class III-IV - 2.5 miles long (Route 17 TO West Branch Ausable River)
 Hotels Near Esther Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway:
Courtyard Lake Placid, Lake Placid , 11 miles away
Hampton Inn Lake Placid, NY, Lake Placid , 11 miles away
Econo Lodge Lake Placid, Lake Placid , 11 miles away
Town And Country Motor Inn, Lake Placid , 11 miles away
Spruce Lodge Bed & Breakfast &, Lake Placid , 11 miles away
 Lakes Near Esther Mountain-Whiteface Mt. Mem. Highway
Copperas Pond, Essex County , 5 miles away
Franklin Falls Pond, Franklin County , 10 miles away
Lake Placid, Essex County , 12 miles away

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