The views from Whiteface encompass all sides and include the Green Mountains of Vermont, the skyscrapers in Montreal on a very clear day, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire on an even clearer day.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 5 on the list. Whiteface is often climbed with Esther Mountain.
Whiteface Mountain is a unique Mountain in that it has a perfectly good access road to just below the summit. Then a short walk through a manmade passage, within the mountain, will bring you to an elevator which will deliver you to the visitor’s area near the summit. But, if you want to climb it, you will need to use one of these routes below. Whiteface also has numerous slides on its slopes which would offer excellent bushwhacking and exploring options. Slides however are very dangerous and should only be done by experienced, fit hikers.
You may have heard a bit about the Whiteface Ski Center, it's world renowned and still used to this day for world class competition. The ski slopes are not a route to the summit, they end quite a ways from the summit, and it is not recommended.
Primary Trailhead: 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 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.
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. Continuing straight the climb relaxes a bit after a short descent before it climbs steeply to the Whiteface Memorial Highway – trail four outlined below. During times where the road is open to vehicles it cannot be walked on. The trail leaves the roadside as soon as it hits it and climbs steeply up to an open ridge with amazing views. You will continue the ridge to the summit of Whiteface where you will be greeted in awe by all those who drove up.
Secondary Trailhead: 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 slightly easier grade but more elevation gain.
From the trailhead you will hike through an attractive open forest along a well-trodden foot trail for 1.2 miles. The grade to this point isn’t too steep but the trail then swings right and up steeply to just below the summit Marble Mountain at the intersection with the primary trail above. Read more on the primary trail above.
Third Trailhead: From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86, follow Route 86 toward Wilmington. Continue for 3.0 miles to the Whiteface Trailhead on the left. During the summer months and into the fall you can drive the Connery Pond Road back to the trailhead. If the gate is closed it will require you to park just up the road on Route 86 at one of two parking lots near the river.
This is a 6.0 mile hike, one way, to the summit of Whiteface. From the trailhead at Connery Pond pass by the gate and begin a rather moderate hike along an old gravel strewn woods road. The footing is a bit tough in spots due to the rocky terrain but it’s a rather quick hike back to Whiteface Landing.
From Whiteface Landing be sure to take that sharp right toward Whiteface Mountain and Whiteface Brook Lean-to. Left will bring you to Lake Placid (the lake) and a faint herd-path straight will bring you around the lake. The trail is fairly flat most of the way to the lean-to, but starts a very demanding climb, almost right up the fall line of the mountain. Eventually you will come to a very rocky section where footing is very tough and time is needed to safely pass. The summit isn’t far ahead.
8-12 miles RT, depending on route, challenging climb for experienced hikers, Elevation: 4867’, Ascent: 2535'
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: Primary trail – 3 hours to summit, Secondary trail – 3.5 to 4 hours to summit, Third Trail- 4 to 4.5 hours to summit
Out of Shape Hiker: Not recommended
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Wilmington Trail from the Atmosphere Science Research Center (ASRC)
Round Trip Distance
Average Round-trip Time
7 to 8 hours
Winter Obstacles to be Aware Of
Heavy winds and frigid temperatures on the summit and along the upper ridgeline
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.
Past the intersection the climb continues but is much more moderate until you reach the wall at the toll road. The steep climb to the toll road will bring you to a small cliff that you need to scramble up to reach the open ridge where the clear winter views are outstanding as you look down over the ski center. The summit is in clear view and but expect heavy winds upon reaching the summit area, use the building to block the heaviest gusts.
Facemask for cold and wind protection.