Esther was named after Esther McComb who at the age of 15 made the first recorded ascent of the peak.
Esther is a High Peak located off the shoulder of Whiteface Mountain, a much bigger sister peak, and makes for an excellent and rewarding side trip on the way to climbing Whiteface from the north. Esther is often climbed with Whiteface Mountain.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 28 on the list.
Below are brief descriptions of the two major routes, we recommend you pick up a guide book for more in depth detail or hire a local guide to assist you.
From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86, follow Route 86 toward Wilmington. Continue into Wilmington to the four-way stop sign. Take a left onto Route 431 (Whiteface Mountain Highway). Follow here for 2.4 miles to the Atmospheric Science Research Center Road on the left. Follow this road around the one-way roundabout to the trail on the right, just past a dirt road that descends into the woods. The trail is not labeled with a DEC sign, and there are no signs or markers until one reaches the marked trail at the summit of Marble Mountain.
This is a 3.9 mile hike, one way. From the trailhead you descend a bit to a very long and steep climb up Marble Mountain. The Marble Mountain section used to be an old ski slope and you will be able to see that one way – old cement footers still line the trail.
From the top of Marble Mountain you will come to an intersection, left is the secondary trail outlined below. Right is the route you will want. After a short break on a flatter section you will start a demanding climb through an evergreen forest that opens up a few views along the way. After about 1.5 miles you will come to a rather large cairn at a trail intersection, this is the herd-path to Esther Mountain.
Making this right onto the herd-path you will climb a bit to the summit of Lookout Mountain where you will have outstanding views to the north. From the summit of Lookout you will descend for a while to a col between Lookout and Esther. The climb out of the col isn’t too dramatic, but tends to seem to drag on a bit before it reaches the summit. Be sure to not stop at the false summit prior to final push, this can be easy to do when visibility is poor.
There is a placque on the summit in commemoration of Esther McComb.
From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86, follow Route 86 toward Wilmington. Continue into Wilmington to the four-way stop sign. Take a left onto Route 431 (Whiteface Mountain Road). Follow here for 0.6 mile to Reservoir Road on the left, drive to the end and park.
This is a 5.7 mile hike, one way to the summit. This route is used as equally to the primary, and offers a marked trail at the start, but more elevation gain.
From the trailhead you will hike through an attractive open forest along a well-trodden foot trail. The grade isn’t too steep at first, but after an intersection at 1.3 miles the trail swings right and climbs steeply to Marble Mt. and a junction with the primary trail at 2.2 miles. Read more on the primary trail above.
8-12 mile RT, choice of trails, Elevation: 4240’ Ascent: 3020'
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: Primary trail – 2 to 3 hours to summit, Secondary trail – 3 to 4 hours to summit
Out of Shape Hiker: Primary trail – 3 to 4 hours to summit, Secondary trail – 4.5 to 5.5 hours to summit
There are nice views of Whiteface from this location as well as back into Wilmington and beyond to Jay.
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Wilmington Trail from the Atmosphere Science Research Center (ASRC)
Round Trip Distance
Average Round-trip Time
7 to 8 hours
From the trailhead at the ASRC the trail drops a bit to the base of Marble Mountain before you begin a steep and steady climb to the summit of Marble Mountain 0.75 miles away. The views from Marble are quite nice and should be enjoyed. From here you will remain on a flat trail for a bit, but soon start climbing again on a somewhat steep pitch to the intersection for Esther Mountain that comes in on the right.
Once on the herd path for Esther you will notice the trees become heavily weighted down from snow and make the passage quite narrow. You will descend slowly to the col between Lookout Mountain and Esther before a moderate climb welcomes you to the partially wooded summit.