Whiteface and Esther Mountain Hike; Adirondack High Peaks

Total Mileage: 9.8 miles                                Trail head directions 44.394650,-73.857951

Total rise: 3829′                                                              Facebook

Hike Time: 6.5 hours                                                     My Pintrest

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Printable map                                                   East Coast Fire Tower Page

Significance: Whiteface is #5 on the list of Adirondack High peaks and Esther is #28.

Here is some of what you need to know: Whiteface is accessible by road during the summer months, as a result the summit can get busy; the road is closed during the winter.

-We took the trail-head that started from the observatory as opposed to the one at the reservoir because it cut off some elevation and distance.

Click on pictures to enlarge

1. Scroll the mouse over the altitude line to see where it lines up on the map

2. Click on the flags for more information

3. Click on the pictures to make them large


We started our hike from the observatory. A small sign marks the start of the first trail. 1-The first trail leads to a dirt road 2- follow the road to the end where you will see beginning of the main trail (Red Blazes). This part of the mountain was a ski resort back in the day; the trail appears to follow an old ski lift route as evidenced by its straight course and the occasional cement sturctures on the side of the trail. This section of the hike that leads to Marble Mountain is steep, you will gain about 900′ over 0.6 miles


toboggan storage? That is what someone suggested it is for











The “Giant of the Valley” in the center of the pic

Finally we took a break when we arrived at the vista on Marble mountain; the 0.9 miles had felt like 5. Many mountains can be seen from here, but Giant Mountain (in the center of the photo) stood out to me, Stewart is to the right of it in the picture.

If someone had started from the reservoir trail-head then right about here is where the two trails intersect, a sign marks spot so you should not miss it.

After Marble mountain you will climb 1140′ over 1.1 miles; it is long and tough. The good news is, once you reach the top their is a nice 1 mile level stretch where you can recharge.


On this flat stretch, about 2.1 miles in you will find the cairn and sign that marks the herd path to Esther Mountain, you cannot miss it. We did this mountain second, but while we are here lets talk about it. While the trail was unmarked we had no problems finding our way. One mile to the summit with a gain of 200′ of elevation, nice. The trail crosses over Lookout Mountain (0.2 miles) where if you look to your right you can see Esther; occasionally a limited view of Whiteface appears. A Placard marks the summit when it is not buried in snow and the trail ends there.



Esther from Lookout Mountain











Onward to Whiteface!!! Leading up to the last hill climb we got excited as we would get glimpses of the summit; it was this big white mountain basking in the sun with the observatory perched on top, we were pumped and wanted to run to it (of course we did not run).




The last up hill climb should have been just as tough as anything else, but we were so busy checking out the views we barely noticed our 900′ gain over 0.8 miles. Large open areas allowed us to looked out and see the Great range, the ski resort below, and the observatory up above.













Click on the pic to Enlarge, Use Saddleback for orientation, Gothics is not marked on here but is between SB and Armstrong.. This is the Great Range

The Great Range













The observatory was closed but it was cool to be standing in a place where I have seen so many pictures of.  The views were incredible and their was a ton of different places to look from. We hid on the leeward side of the building to escape the wind, took a break and bailed out.

Here is the observatory website, interesting stuff.



Lake Placid










***Important note for winter hikers. Once you start hiking parallel to the road near the top, you may come to a large sheet of thick ice. In the week after our hike two people slipped on this ice and went over a cliff falling 25 feet onto the road below. One guy broke both of his legs…serious stuff. He later said he wishes he switched his micro-spikes to crampons for this small but high risk area.