Wilmington Wild Forest
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fees: Free
- DEC Region 5 Office (M-F 8:30am - 4:30pm): (518) 897-1200 e-mail (Info.R5@dec.ny.gov)
- Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): (518) 891-0235 (24 hours a day) or dial 911
- State Land Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1300
- Fishing, Hunting & Trapping Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1326
- Location: Towns of Wilmington, Jay, Keene and St. Armand in Essex County and the Town of Black Brook in Clinton County
- Wildlife Management Units: 5C & 5F
- Map: View the Wilmington Wild Forest Map (PDF) (1.2 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
View from Cobble Lookout
The 16,938-acre Wilmington Wild Forest is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. It consists of nine detached parcels: 345-acre Hamlin Mountain Tract; 700-acre Beaver Brook Tract; 1,140-acre Black Brook Tract; 1,346-acre Clements Mountain; 3,440-acre Whiteface/Marble Mountain Tract; 9,852-acre Wilmington/Stephenson Range; and two small detached parcels all within a 10 mile radius of the hamlet of Wilmington. Both the West Branch and East Branch Ausable Rivers flow through the area. Hiking, mountain biking and fishing are the most popular outdoor recreation activities in the area. Mountain biking, sightseeing and skiing at the nearby Whiteface Mountain Ski Area and sightseeing on the Whiteface Memorial Highway are also popular activities in the area.
Trail Information for the High Peaks provides general information regarding backcountry and seasonal conditions; specific notices regarding closures and conditions of trails, roads, bridges and other infrastructure; and links to weather, state land use regulations, low impact recreation and more
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The Wilmington Wild Forest contains 32 miles of marked and maintained trails and one well-used 1.2-mile un-marked path. Hikers can also use the 23 miles of designated mountain bike trails. The trails provide hikers the opportunity to view the Ausable River Valley and surrounding mountains and access to remote ponds and other natural features.
- Whiteface Mountain (4,867 feet) can be summited using the Wilmington Ridge/Whiteface Mountain Trail which ascends nearly 3,700 feet and traverses 5.2 mile from the trailhead to the summit of the mountain. The summit provides one of the most expansive views in the Adirondacks taking in Lake Placid, the Saranac Lakes region, the High Peaks region, Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the St. Lawrence River Plains and the city of even Montreal in Quebec, Canada.
- Esther Mountain (4,240 feet) can be summited via a 1.2-mile unmarked herd path that ascends 350 feet from the Wilmington Ridge Trail. The path leaves the trail near Lookout Mountain, approximately 4.0 miles and 2,700 feet above the Wilmington Ridge Trailhead.
- Cobble Lookout Trail is a 1.3-mile trail which closely follows the contour across the southwestern face of the Stephenson Range to a large rocky ledge. The lookout offers great views of nearby Whiteface Mountain and much longer views across the Ausable River drainage to the Jay Mountains, Hurricane Mountain, and many other peaks. The trail passes an old rock quarry approximately 0.2 miles from the trailhead which provides the trail its name.
- Clements Pond can be reached on a 1.5 mile trail which ascends about 650 feet before dropping down to this scenic pond with nearby Clement Mountain rising 900 feet above it. The trailhead is across the road from the parking area.
- Cooper Kill Pond (aka Cooper Kiln Pond) sets between the Stephenson Range and the Wilmington Range can be reached from two directions. The trail traverses 5.9 mils between trailheads and is also open to mountain biking. This picturesque pond provides great views of the surrounding mountain ranges, a lean-to on its shore and a healthy self-sustaining native brook trout population. Sections of the trial are steep and eroded which may provide difficult for some users.
- Cooper Kill Pond Trail West includes 960 feet of ascent from the trailhead on Gillespie Drive (aka Franklin Falls Road) before dropping down to pond. The trail traverses 2.7 miles from the trailhead to the pond. This western section of the trail is a designated snowmobile trail in the winter.
- Cooper Kill Pond Trail East includes 1,660 feet of ascent over the 3.2 miles from the trailhead on Bonnieview Road to the pond.
- Wilmington Flume Trail Network provides nearly 10 miles of trails for mountain biking and hiking. The trail network is described in the Mountain Biking Section (on page link). There are also two trails accessed through the trail network that are designated for hiking only with parking located at the Flume Trailhead West or the Bear Den Trailhead in the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area. Those accessing these hiking trails from the Flume Trailhead West will pass a wildlife viewing area overlooking a beaver dam and pond and enjoy scenic views of the West Branch Ausable River. Hikers should move to the side and allow bikers to pass when hiking on designated bike trails.
- Flume Knob can be reached on trails traversing at least 2.5 miles, depending on the route taken, and ascending 1,300 feet from the Flume West Trailhead. The last 1.0 mile is designated for hiking only. The peak can also be reached from the Bear Den Trailhead, from which the trail traverses a total of 1.5 miles and ascends approximately 1,025 feet, again the last 1.0 mile is designated for hiking only.
- Bear Den Mountain can be reached on trails traversing 2.8 miles, depending on the route taken, and ascending 1,600 feet from the Flume West Trailhead. The last 1.2 mile is designated for hiking only. The peak can also be reached from the Bear Den Trailhead from which the trail traverses a total of 1.6 miles and ascends approximately 1,325 feet, again the last 1.2 mile is designated for hiking only. Both peaks provide views of the West Branch Ausable River Valley, the Sentinel Range and the Stephenson Range.
- Wilmington Flume Falls, a narrow gap and waterfalls in the West Branch Ausable River can be accessed from the Flume East Trailhead on a short trail, less than 0.1 mile in length, that descends approximately 75 feet from the trailhead to the shore of the West Branch Ausable River.
- Beaver Brook Trail Network provides 7.0 miles of trails for mountain bikers and hikers. The trail network is described in the Mountain Biking Section (on page link).Three of the trails are commonly used by hikers. Hikers should be aware that these trails are popular with mountain bikers and be sure to move to the side when they encounter bikers and allow them to pass.
- Coniferous Loop Trail is a 0.6 mile loop trail on the east side of Hardy Road with very little change in elevation.
- All In Trail is a 3.0 mile loop trail, also on the east side of the road, which climbs more than 750 feet to a small peak with an overlook of the Stephenson Range, Whiteface Mountain, Sentinel Range and the West Branch Ausable Valley.
- Good Luck Trail provides scenic views of the surrounding mountains. It is located on the west side of the road and is accessed using the Double Time Trail. It provides a 1.5 mile loop hike.
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations. Mountain biking is a very popular recreational activity the Wilmington Wild Forest. There are two trail networks and one other stand-alone trail.
- Wilmington Flume Trail Network provides nearly 10 miles of mountain bike trails. The network may be accessed from the Wilmington Flume West Trailhead or the Bear Den Trailhead. Trail difficulty ratings include Easy, Moderate and Hard trails. The Wilmington Flume Trail Network Map (PDF 650 kb) map and information document is available to view and download.
The Wilmington Flume Trail Network connects with the mountain bike trails on the adjacent Whiteface Mountain Ski Area. All trails in the network including the Upper and Lower Connector Trails to Whiteface Mountain Ski Area (Trails 19 and 20) are open to public use free of charge.
All mountain bike trails at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area, with the exception of the Upper and Lower Connector Trails, can only be used by paying a fee. Trail passes for these trails can be purchased at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area base lodge.
- Beaver Brook Trail Network (aka Hardy Road Trail Network) provides 7.0 miles of looping trails for mountain biking. Trail difficulty ratings include Easy, Moderate and Hard trails. Trails are located on both sides of Hardy Road.The Beaver Brook Trail Network (PDF 650 kb) map and information document is available to view and download.
- Poor Man's Downhill is a 2.5-mile unidirectional trail from the entrance road for the SUNY Atmospheric Sciences Research Center's Whiteface Field Station to a parking lot in the hamlet of Wilmington. The lower portion of the trail and the parking lot are on private property.
During the summer the Town of Wilmington runs a shuttle service between the two ends of the trail. Check Whiteface Region (leaves DEC website) for the shuttle's schedule. In the winter this trail is a designated snowmobile trail.
General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.
- West Branch Ausable River is internationally renowned as a high quality trout fishing water. The river is stocked with brown, rainbow and brook trout. Wild populations of brown trout and brook trout are also present in the river. A pamphlet is available with maps of state lands and public fishing rights that depicts the Public Access for Fishing the West Branch Ausable River (PDF 742 KB) in addition to those listed below.
- The river can be accessed from the Anglers Parking Area at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area
- A 0.5 mile of the left bank of the river can be accessed from River Trail in the Wilmington Flume Trail Network.
- A 1.75 mile section of the left bank of the river is land in the Black Brook Tract. A 0.7 mile trail provides access from Haselton Road to this section of river. A 0.4 mile section of Black Brook on forest preserve lands can be accessed across the road from the parking lot for this trailhead.
- Cooper Kill Pond has 2.4 acres of surface area and contains wild native brook trout. The pond can be reached from the Cooper Kiln Pond Trailhead East or the Cooper Kiln Pond Trailhead East.
- Clements Pond is stocked with brook trout. It has a surface area of 2.6 acres. The pond can be reached from the Clements Pond Trailhead.
Adirondack/Lake Champlain Fishing provides information on fishing in the Adirondacks and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.
Help Protect Native Adirondack Fish. Populations of brook trout, round whitefish and other native Adirondack fish species have severely declined due to introduced fish.
Due to its ease of access from the many trails and roads in the unit, and proximity to nearby hamlets, the Wilmington Wild Forest receives much use by small game, big game and waterfowl hunters. There are a number of areas throughout the unit that see regular use.
- Whiteface/Marble Mountain Tract on the lower slopes of Whiteface Mountain can be accessed via the Wilmington Flume West Parking Area, the Bear Den Parking Area, the SUNY Atmospheric Sciences Research Center Whiteface Mountain Field Station Parking Area and the Wilmington Ridge Trailhead Parking Area.
- Stephenson Range Tract is very popular with hunters due to the large amount of land and the many access points. Hunters may park in the Cooper Kiln East Trailhead Parking Area or other locations along Bonnieview Road; the Cooper Kiln West Trailhead Parking Area, the Cobble Lookout Trailhead or other locations along Gillespie Drive (Franklin Falls Road) or roadside parking along the Forestdale Road.
- Beaver Brook Tract is also regularly used by hunters who use the Beaver Brook Trailhead Parking Area.
- Black Brook Tract can be accessed from the Haselton Road and the Bonnieview Road.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
- Wilmington Snowmobile Trail is a 7.6-mile snowmobile trail which connects the hamlet of Wilmington with the Forestdale Road. Approximately 0.7 miles of the trail is along the shoulder of State Route 431 and Gillespie Drive. A snowmobile trail joins the Forestdale Road 0.25 miles west and on the opposite side of the road which snowmobilers can use to connect to the larger Adirondack/North Country snowmobile trail network.
- Cooper Kill Snowmobile Trail is a 1.7 mile spur trail off the Wilmington Snowmobile Trail which accesses Cooper Kill Pond and the lean-to. This is a secondary trail which is not groomed.
General information on cross-country skiing & snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
All hiking, mountain biking and snowmobile trails are also available in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular on the Wilmington Flume and on the Beaver Brook Trail Networks.
The Wilmington Flume West Trailhead Parking Area is plowed by the Town of Wilmington in the winter.
Another popular ski for experience skiers is the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway which is not plowed in the winter. A snowshoe race is held annually on the road as well.
General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
There are two designated primitive tent sites for backcountry camping. One is located along the Cooper Kill Trail just a short distance from the Copper Kill East Trailhead on the Bonnieview Road. The other is s located off the River Trail of the Wilmington Flume Trail Network just a short distance from the trailhead.
Also there is a lean-to on the shore of Cooper Kiln Pond.
The DEC Wilmington Notch Campground is located along the West Branch Ausable River a short distance south of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area.
General information on rock & ice climbing includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations
Although there are no designated climbing areas in the unit, rock and ice climbers are known to climb in the Cobble Lookout Trail and Cobble Hill area. Climbers can park at the Cobble Lookout Trailhead roadside parking.
General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
There are limited paddling opportunities in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Most of the West Branch Ausable River is not suitable for paddling due to inaccessibility, whitewater, the presence of numerous boulders & rocks and shallow waters. The exception is Lake Everest. It can be accessed from the Wilmington Town Park.
Other waters are small and remote.
General information on watchable wildlife includes tips for viewing wildlife and links to other watchable wildlife locations. General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
A viewing pad overlooking a beaver pond is located off the River Trail of the Wilmington Flume Trail Network just 400 feet from the Flume West Trailhead.
General information on accessible recreation includes how-to and links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities.
Accessible viewing pad with view of Beaver Pond
- River Trail Section is four hundred feet section of the River Trail beginning at the Flume West Trailhead which is hardened to provide access for people with mobility disabilities.
- A viewing pad at the end of the trail oversees a beaver pond.
- An accessible viewing pad along the trail provides views of a stretch of rapids on the West Branch Ausable River.
Whiteface Mountain Ski Area Gondola travels from the Main Base Lodge to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain. There is an observation deck and picnic area at the top. The gondola is open spring through fall and requires a fee. It is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (leaves DEC website)
Whiteface Veteran's Memorial Highway is a toll road that rises 2,300 feet as it winds 5 miles to a parking lot a little more than 100 feet below the summit. There are a dozen places to pull off to enjoy the view, some with picnic tables. An elevator can take people from the parking lot to the summit. The highway is open spring through fall and requires a fee. It is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (leaves DEC website)
There are 11 parking areas and trailhead roadside parking sites in the Wilmington Wild Forest. There are also a number of angler access parking areas and numerous places to park along roads that provide access to the lands and waters of this area. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
Anglers Parking Area is located on the right off the entrance road to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area before crossing the bridge over the West Branch Ausable River. (N 44.35420°; W 73.85946°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Bear Den Trailhead Parking Area is located near the Kid Campus of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area (N 44.35945°; W 73.85758°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Wilmington Flume Trailhead West Parking Area is located along Route 86 immediately north/east of the bridge over the West Branch Ausable (N 44.36606°; W 73.84139°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Wilmington Flume Trailhead East Parking Area is located on the opposite side of Route 86 and a short distance north/east of the West Parking Area (N 44.36710°; W 73.84028°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Beaver Brook Trailhead Parking Area is located on the Hardy Road. (N 44.36415°; W 73.79993°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Wilmington Reservoir/Whiteface Mountain Trailhead Parking Area is located at the end of Reservoir Road off Whiteface Mountain Road (State Route 431). (N 44.39314°; W 73.83685°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Cobble Lookout Trailhead is on Gillespie Drive (aka Franklin Falls Road)(N 44.40397°; W 73.87887°) Google Map (leaves DEC webste)
Cooper Kiln West/Franklin Falls Trailhead is located on Gillespie Drive a short distance away from the Cobble Lookout Trailhead. (N 44.40524°; W 73.88441°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Cooper Kiln East/Bonnieview Trailhead is located on the Bonnieview Road. (N 44.43136°; W 73.79993°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Clements Pond Trailhead is located on the north side of Styles Brook Road. (N 44.30005°; W 73.76722°) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Black Brook Tract Trailhead Parking is on the Haselton Road about 0.8 mile south of the Silver Lake Road. (N 44.44097°; W 73.74394°) Googe Map (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Adirondacks to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts other backcountry users.
How We Manage the Wilmington Wild Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Wilmington Wild Forest Unit Management Plan UMP (PDF 10 mb). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
DEC Lands and Facilities
Hurricane Mountain Wilderness
Jay Mountain Wilderness
McKenzie Mountain Wilderness
Sentinel Range Wilderness
Taylor Pond Wild Forest
Taylor Pond Campground
Wilmington Notch Campground
Whiteface Mountain Ski Center (leaves DEC website)
Whiteface Veteran's Memorial Highway (leaves DEC website)
Gas, food, dining, lodging and supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Wilmington, Lake Placid, Ausable Forks and Jay.
Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.
Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.
Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC Website) for information on outdoor guides.