I think this trail is great and what makes it great for me is its uniqueness. All the way down its 2.5 miles there are constant changes.
It starts off easy cursing through a spruce and balsam fir forest. The trail turns back and forth and you feel like you’re somewhere other than WF because you can’t see anything besides this trail. I like to imagine the guy and his novice wife skiing this part and the wife saying, “You know honey I’m really glad you talked me into coming up here, I can handle this and the scenery is beautiful”. That dude is going to be in trouble before this ride is over.
The trail starts to pitch a little with a couple of more turns and now you’re on top of Hickock Hill and you better start paying attention. Here the trail starts getting steeper. This part was all bumped up soft this past Saturday which I like for 2 reasons, I like to ski bumps, but more importantly it slows people down before they get to THE TRAVERSE.
The Traverse is a pretty long, narrowish and mostly flat. So what’s the big deal? Skier’s left the whole way is a relatively steep ledge. If you go over that you could get hurt. I’ve helped pull a couple people out of there, and fortunately they all skied away, but the potential for injury is real, but of course it’s real anytime or anywhere you ski. I don’t mean to overstate the danger here, because thousands ski it every season with no problem. If you pay attention and ski safely you can just zip right over it no problem, stay skiers right the best you can and don’t take any sudden turns across the trail cause someone may be about to fly by you. Also the views from here are beautiful. Don’t look at them until you get across.
Now that brings us to a great place to stop…we are at the entrance to Lookout Below and there is a big area to stand and take in the beauty that surrounds you. However, you don’t even have to stand because management built an ADK lean-too where you can sit and take it all in or have a picnic lunch. I’m thinking this spot is going to be real popular on a spring day.
Now we go on to the second half of the trail which I personally think skis the best. There is a steep shot down to the right to the ledges. When the ledges have snow you’ll usually find skiers/riders doing a little hucking. Now we get steep again as we go down to the Deer Valley section, big right then left turns and steep again to Bear Den Corner’s and out to the intersection of Boreen.
Now I know that a ski area’s trails are rated relative to trails at that area only, so a rating of blue for the Wilmington Trail is right for WF. That said another thing I think is uniquely cool about the Wilmington trail is that it would be a black at just about any other ski area in the East.
BTW…that novice wife I mentioned in the beginning is taking Silver Shoot back to Kid’s Kampus. Her husband is headed to the couch for a few nights for sure.
So when you take into account the diversity of terrain on that trail, the feeling of isolation from the rest of the ski area and it’s length I think the Wilmington trail is very distinctive and a great addition to Whiteface.
Does anyone agree or disagree with me? Tell us why.
Do you think it would be a blue if it where anywhere else in the East?
Does The Wilmington Trail remind you of any other trail at a different ski area you’ve been to?
I can’t find any pics of it on my computer although I know I took some. Anyone else have some to post?
There's truth that lives
And truth that dies
I don't know which
So never mind - Leonard Cohen
For starters, I think that at almost any other mountain in the East, this trail would earn a black diamond rating for the pitch just downhill of the intersection with Lookout Below and the pitches at The Ledges and Bear Den Corner. The rest of the trail is a blue, if not green, but since there's no way to avoid those spots, you'd have to rate it for its most difficult feature.
That said, I love this trail. The top section, Fir Wave, has always reminded me of a classic New England ski trail.
When the trees are snow covered as in the picture above, you just feel like you're in the middle of nowhere.
Once you come through that section, you're in a great cruiser down to Hickock Hill. This is always an interesting spot, as you try to work around those who are freaking out about the pitch and the cliff edge, skier's left. On Thursday, before they groomed the top of the trail, there was a mandatory three foot ledge drop right at the bottom of Hickock Hill onto the flat. It was pretty crazy. By the end of the day, the ledge had fortunately been "broken down" by traffic. There was apparently a fairly serious incident involving someone going over the edge this past week .
After crossing the flats, you come to what in my opinion, is the best part of the trail. The first pitch you encounter is reasonably steep, and narrow, with the cliff edge on your left keeping you on your toes. The trail turns to the right and flattens out a bit, then, it's a short steep left hand turn into the Deer Valley section, followed by a quick right turn onto the flats again. You now approach The Ledges and a left hand turn onto a steep pitch into Bear Den Corner, followed by a right turn onto a flat section and then finally, a gentle pitch to the left to the junction with Boreen. When conditions are good, and if your legs hold out, taking this entire part of the trail all out is, I would imagine, as close as most of us mere mortals will ever get to knowing what it might feel like to ski a downhill or Super G course.
I love, and would recommend, hitting this trail EARLY in the day, before it gets skied off. I usually try to get in two or three runs on it before 11:00, and then I generally avoid it the rest of the day.
It is definitely a great addition to Whiteface. Now, if we could only get snowmaking on Hoyt's High, Lookout Mountain would really be complete. Two or three laps on Hoyt's followed by one or two plunges on Lookout Below and then finally, a complete top to bottom run on the Wilmington Trail could eat up an entire morning, and you'd probably be done for the day!!!
It's easy to be against something ... It's hard to be for something!
I skied this trail on Mar 26 last spring. Conditions were very icy. I commented on its "under" rating in the old Gore Mtn forum. The trail is really a blue/black rating. My wife is a solid blue skier and I would never bring her down Wilmington unless conditions were perfect. In addition to all mentioned above, the trail has some visually intimidating sections with a rock wall on the skiers right and a sheer drop marked only with a rope on the skiers left. The open views compound the steeper sections making them seem steeper than they might be. The trail reminded me of some of the trails at Hunter. Hunter, however, usually installs a solid fence on the sheer drops that line their trails. Foxlair at Gore has the same visual intimidation on a much smaller scale. The trail is also very long with no sign of the end. Green skiers trying to challenge themselves will have real problems with this trail.
I think it is a wonderful trail but lower/less aggressive intermediates will have a hard time getting to the bottom with less than optimal conditions. WF might want to post a 'Strong intermediates only' sign at the bottom of the Lookout triple.
It's a wonderful trail. I think it's one of my favorites at WF too. It is one of those trails that just goes on and on and on and keeps you interested the whole way down. I've notice that ledge too and thought, "one of these days someone is going to biff there and get it really bad." I'm not sure a Black rating would be appropriate but then again I think whiteface has got it right when it comes to trail ratings.
I missed Wilmington Trail since it has opened - always at Whiteface either too early or too late. What does it's difficulty level compare to at Gore? Chatiemac? (that could be rated blue on good days) or maybe Quicksilver? (which is quite unpleasant in the afternoon).