At the Bears Den Lot in the ski area the trail is located to the north side of the parking lot. The trail flows along the hillside through a flat area with very little elevation change. As you move through the forest, the Bears Den Mountain Trail will be on your left, as the bike trails, that you have been following will continues straight ahead and drops over the hillside.
The trail starts off and stays high above an inlet of the Ausable River before it starts to climb steadily and at times quite steep. The trail swings up to a top off along a narrow ridge line as you start to sweep west (L). Then you will start a much more aggressive climb, with a few switchbacks breaking up the steep slopes. This will bring you to a col between the two summits of Bears Den Mountain. A sign in the col point left to Bears Den Summit, a path leads in both directions. The path to the right is seldom used and may be all but discernable in winter. The slopes along the right trail are very steep with exposure.
Heading left you will remain in the trees for a very short amount of time before breaking out onto an open rock ledge with amazing views. During the summer, blueberries flourish here, in the winter the summit top will be replaced with wind swept snow. The trail stops at a large cairn on this rocky area. An old path continues back into the trees and brings you to the true summit of Bear Den atop another outstanding rocky location.
Distance Round Trip:
Approximate Time Round Trip:
Families with Kids: 4 to 4.5 hours
Experienced Snowshoers: 3 to 3.5 hours
Out of Shape Snowshoers: 3.5 to 4 hours
From the 4-way intersection in Wilmington, follow Route 86 toward Lake Placid. Continue for 3.5 miles to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center on the right. Turn into the center and follow the road around to the right and to the Bear Den Lot, trail is here.
Difficulty: 1=easiest, 5=hardest
Two-Three; due to steepness of terrain and limited use in winter
Additional Important Information:
The twin summits are open ledges with steep drop-offs, please be very careful and keep an eye on young children.