Ascent of Whiteface Mountain on 2008-09-22

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Monday, September 22, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Whiteface Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4865 ft / 1482 m

Ascent Trip Report

Whiteface Mtn has a toll road that climbs within 300' of the summit elevation, but the "right" way to do it is by trail, of which there are several to choose from. I opted for a 3800' gain route that approaches from the E.

From NY-86 in Wilmington, I headed W on NY-431. NY-86 turns 90° at the junction of these highways, and a person approaching from the W makes no turn at all. After 0.6 mile, I turned L on Reservoir Ln, which is well-graded gravel, just after a red house. (A few miles farther up NY-431 it becomes the toll road.) After an additional 0.2 mile are a dam and reservoir, and some facilities that apparently supply water for Wilmington. There is also a trailhead with a very small parking area, having space for only about 2 cars, but if it's full, there are plenty of gravel areas all around, and I doubt it would be a problem to park anywhere nearby as long as you're not blocking access to any of the water facilities. A sign at the trailhead says it is 5.2 miles to Whiteface Mtn.

I hiked up the trail, which is marked by red circles nailed to trees. It gains elevation rather slowly in the first mile but becomes steeper in the second mile before arriving at the saddle just W of Marble Mtn. It continues up the E ridge of Whiteface where there are some occasional views of an ugly summit complex and, at one point, the trail passes by a clearing with some construction activity. The trail traverses just S of Lookout Mtn before arriving at a junction where a side trail goes to Esther Mtn. A sign warns that the trail to Esther is not maintained.

After climbing for a little less than 1 more mile, the trail reaches the base of a 40-foot high stone wall, on top of which is the toll road. I traversed left along the base of the wall, gradually ascending until reaching the road itself. Trail markers then indicate that you must climb up a couple of boulders on the left side of the road where it enters a manmade slot. The trail continues up the ridge above the slot and road, up some slabs, and finally arrives at the summit, which is occupied by two buildings, both round. The north building is mostly a small visitor center with a few exhibits; the south building is a tower and houses the atmospheric science research center (ASRC). The highest natural ground is a rock slab undisturbed by construction and well identified by a sign.

Note: at one of the trail junctions below, the trail identified by a sign as the way to ASRC is not the way to the Whiteface summit; it refers to a different ASRC facility.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3865 ft / 1177 m
    Extra Gain:125 ft / 38 m
    Distance:10.4 mi / 16.7 km
    Trailhead:Wilmington Reservoir  1250 ft / 381 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 0 Minutes

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