Whiteface and Esther Mountain

Region: Adirondacks

Level: Difficult

Though I've skied it probably over 100 times, I've finally for the first time hiked Whiteface and was able to knock out two 46ers on the hike by hitting Esther Mountain as well. Another high peaks hike in the book, and of course, another beautiful set of memories. 

Lake Placid in the distance

I started the hike traveling up Marble Mountain. In order to get there, head towards Whiteface from Lake Placid. Passing by Whiteface, eventually you’ll take a left onto Route 431 at a 4-way intersection which will be Whiteface Mountain Road. About 2.4 miles up the way, you’ll see a left turn for the Atmospheric Science Research Center Road. There will be a roundabout - keep following until you loop around and find cars and a trailhead.

The hike starts off heading up Marble Mountain, which apparently was an old ski slope so hikers will notice old cement blocks lining the trail (chairlift/rope tow?). I believe it is about a mile to the top of Marble, after which there is a trail intersection where hikers can travel along to Whiteface/Esther or choose to head to the Wilmington reservoir (signs in gallery below). I hiked onward, eventually running into the trail heading west to Esther, marked be a sizeable cairn. Esther was much less travelled on this day and I assume that is likely the case on the average day as well. There are a few decent lookouts along the way, and be sure not to stop until you hit the real summit (one false summit along the way) where a small plaque identifies the real summit.

After hitting the Esther Summit, hikers reverse course and head back down the trail they just travelled to then reach the intersection with the large cairn and continue on (hiker’s right at this point). The Whiteface summit is about another 2.5 miles or so up the mountain. The path has several decent lookouts as well as a brush up against the access road where visitors can actually drive up to the summit (be prepared to be met with several non-hikers at the summit). Once you break out above the tree line, the views become extensive and vast. With the observatory in the distance, the hike trudges on and the summit gets ever closer.


The summit of whiteface is usually very busy considering the access road and the many visitors that travel up in their car. While not ideal, the skyline, observatory, relevant information, rock stairway they call “Stairway to Heaven” and especially the great view of Lake Placid are all fantastic. Hiking Whiteface and Esther together is a great way to knock out a few high peaks at once and the trails are challenging and nicely tracked. It was a great time being able to hike the mountain I’ve skied so often in my life, and another great time in the Adirondacks. Hope you enjoy!