The trail affectionately known to mountain bikers as "Poor Man's Downhill" is a multi-use trail that begins near the toll booth on the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway and descends all the way down to the town of Wilmington. The trail was originally constructed for snowmobiling with enhancements made in certain areas to make it a fantastic descent for off-road cyclists in the warmer months. The trail got its name because although it is a downhill specific trail, just about any bike is appropriate. An expensive downhill specific bike is certainly not necessary. Riders should have a bike suitable for off-road travel and definitely wear a helmet.
Riders choosing to make the descent will want to drop a car at the "Up A Creek" in WIlmington. The owners of the property have been gracious enough to allow parking for the trailhead on the extreme right hand side of their property if you are facing the front door. After dropping a car, drive to the four corners in Wilmington with your bikes and make a left, climbing toward the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. Roughly a half-mile before the toll booth area there is a pull off that has a wide, marked trail leading out the back of it. You will know you are in the right place if you see two-large snowmobile bridges at the beginning of the trail.
The first section of the trail down to the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center can be wet in the early season, has many bridges, and there are rocky sections over wet areas. Some riders choose to park their vehicles at Research center access road to avoid this section. Down hill from here the trail is much drier, and has a more mountain bike specific character. The trail mainataines a gentle slope, rolling over terrain features as it makes its way down to the Whiteface/Esther mtn. hiking trail. The "Poor Man's Downhill" trail crosses right over the hiking trail and continues down the fall line.
As you get close to Rt. 86 there are some more wet sections. Some obvious trail work has been done by members of the volunteer group Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA), and signage requesting that riders stay on the appropriate trail is present. An arrangement has been made with the landowner for riders to pass through the property but only in approved areas so as not to disturb campground patrons. Please respect the wishes of the landowner so we can continue to use this precious resource. When you are finished riding, hop in the car that you dropped off earlier and head back up for another lap, or simply collect the vehicle you left at the beginning.
The moderate difficulty of the "Poor Man's Downhill" trail makes it a really fun ride for just about anyone with a mountain bike. There is no downhill specific equipment necessary or steep climbs to suffer through. The route is relatively easily to follow but if you are unsure, maps are available at the Placid Placid Bicycles and High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid. A special thank you to the Barkeater Trails Alliance for maintaining the trail for bike specific travel.