A High Peak Blanketed in Snow
What is going on Road Trip Warriors!? I apologize for the delay. Unfortunately I was caught up in the Thanksgiving activities and busy with schoolwork! Anyway, last weekend on 11/18/2018, my friend Sleezer and I hiked up Whiteface Mountain. It is located in Wilmington, NY and it has been a hike that we have both wanted to do for awhile. Its not a long hike, but we had seen pictures of the vantage points from the summit and it looked amazing.
I am so glad we waited until this mountain was covered in snow. It was some of the most breath-taking scenery I had seen in quite some time. The snow had accumulated on every tree, fallen log, and boulder. It remained untouched and we were lucky enough to hike through it. I am excited to share this little excursion with you all!
Short Summary of Whiteface Mountain
- Difficulty (With Snow): Moderate, the cold was probably the toughest factor coming into play
- Length: 9.3 miles round trip
- Elevation: 4867′ above sea level
- Hiking Time (with snow): It took us 4 hours to summit from the trailhead. Mind you, we had to take time to delayer and relayer. When hiking in the cold and snow, it is extremely important to minimize sweating. It took us an hour-and-a-half to get back to the car. We sort of jogged down the mountain because we could wipe out in the powder. Take as much time as you need as safety is of utmost importance.
- Photo Opportunities: When the snow is fresh and untouched, almost anywhere on the trail is a great photo spot. The white powder on the trees makes for a great backdrop.
Start of The Trek
You’ll start this hike off the Atmospheric Science Research Center Road in Wilmington, NY. The road is a roundabout. Drive around it and you will see a sign that points you towards the hiker parking. The trail starts right next to the parking lot and take note that the trail is not labeled with a DEC sign.
Right off the bat, the trail is steep and it is a long haul up Marble Mountain. This section of the hike used to be a ski slope. There is one spot where you will find to see an old cement footer.
At the top of Marble Mountain, you will find an intersection. You will want to continue right. From this point on, the trail got more beautiful. The snow had accumulated on the trees and the sunlight seemed to make it glow. There were almost no clouds and it was the perfect day for a snowy hike.
Trekking Further Through the Snow and The Esther Intersection
You will continue making your way along this trail through the woods and eventually reach a second intersection. There is a wooden sign that points you in the direction of the Esther herd path if you so choose to do this Adirondack High Peak. Whiteface and Esther can easily be combined, but we did not have the time and continued onwards to Whiteface.
Keep on moving forward and shortly after this sign, you will end up at an area where there is a ski lift. The way the sun was shining, it made a gorgeous ring and I did my best to capture its beauty.
Continuing the Ascent!
We probably could have gotten closer to the ski lift and explored, but the summit was awaiting. I encourage anyone that hikes to take time to explore this spot. You will follow the trail back into the woods and continue to climb gradually. Soon enough, you will be by the road that cars can drive to the summit. There is one spot here that was a little difficult to get up with the ice. So if you go anytime this winter, be careful.
You have broken tree-line at this point, and the vantage point you are rewarded with is ridiculous.
The Observatory is In Your Line of Sight!
At this point, you will climb along the ridge towards the Whiteface Summit and observatory. You will be able to look down and see the skiers gliding down the mountain (if you do this during ski season). This is what you will see in front of you…
The Summit of Whiteface Mountain
First, I want to say that this was the coldest summit I have ever been on. There was no windchill. It was just dry, bone-chilling cold. Sleezer and I were well-dressed for the weather, but let me put this into perspective. My bandana froze solid in minutes from the moisture from my breath, my water bottles that were outside of my bag froze very quickly, and the cuffs of my pants froze to my boots (I forgot to bring my gaiters). When taking pictures with my phone, it was so cold that it would take the phone a couple of seconds to process the photo. So, with that being said, be extremely careful when you plan to be in these sort of conditions and dress accordingly!
Back to the summit….The summit of Whiteface Mountain offers beautiful 360º views of the Adirondacks. It has an observatory at the summit with plenty of areas to walk around. There are railings, binoculars, etc. At this point in the season, the observatory was closed so we were outside of it. We were able to take some awesome photos at the summit of this beautiful mountain.
Back to The Car
I do not think it is necessary to dive too deep into an explanation here. The trail is an out-and-back so just go back the way you came to get to the parking lot.
This hike is friendly for our four-legged adventure pups! I actually saw one on the trail that seemed more than happy to be out in the snow! There really was not any spot on this trail a dog would have issue with. There were no ladders, really steep rock faces, etc.
I would say that this hike is family-friendly, but not in this weather. I would personally wait to bring children or amateur hikers until it is warmer out or they are more experienced. It is only 9.3 miles round trip to Whiteface, but the cold weather can be brutal. You can also drive the family up to the summit when the road is open!
- Timberland Boots
- Nike Compression Leggings
- Athletic shorts
- Adidas joggers (I am getting a pair of moisture resistant hiking pants for next time)
- Athletic T-shirt
- Athletic long sleeve top
- LL Bean Jacket (rated for -20º F)
- Ushanka hat
- 3L of water
- Almonds and peanut butter sandwiches
- Wind/Rain pants
- Extra layers (UnderArmour)
- Extra hiking socks
- Paracord and two carabiners
- Water-proof matches
- LifeStraw (water filtration, costs about $20)
- Adhesive body warmer
- Trekking poles (A MUST => weight off knees, helpful when dealing with ice)
- First-Aid Kit
I typically include pictures of a map for when I hike in the Adirondacks, but the sources on the Internet for this one are more than sufficient. It is a relatively straightforward trail, but always be aware of your surroundings. Thank you again to all of you that read my blog posts. I try to offer as much insight as possible. I hope you enjoyed the photos and find some of this information helpful.
No matter what season you decide to hike in, whether it be a hot summer day or a cold snowy day like this was, make sure you are prepared. That means physically, mentally, and you have enough gear with you to last a full night. Even if it is a hike you have completed before….it does not matter. Things can always turn sour and it is best to be prepared for the worst!
If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments section. I answer every single one. If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it or reblog it. Lastly, don’t forget to tap the like button and follow me on here or Twitter for more adventure pics and hiking tips. Happy adventuring fellow warriors!