This approach is a very unique one, as it uses a slide track for the major portion of the ascent over 2130'. First and foremost, if you are not comfortable with slide climbing or exposure, this route might not be for you. If you have not had prior experience on slides, this route might not be the best choice. If you wish to summit Wilmington Peak by other means you can use the Cooper Kiln Pond approach from the south.
Starting from Bonnieview Road in Wilmington the trail begins on a rather flat course along an old road. Once the trail begins to climb it stays fairly steady but not too steep. You will be following a snowmobile trail as well as a state marked foot trail – so watch our for snowmobiles during snow months. Be aware that the trail is designed as a snowmobile trail and gets a bit of use by machines.
This is also a popular cross-country ski route. Be prepared to break trail along the bushwhack section and slide section of this route. Be aware that heavy snows will exist and there is always the possibility of avalanche danger on the slide. All persons should have an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe and the knowhow to use it.
At a height-of-land on a sharp corner you will leave the trail and follow another old woods road for a very short distance to the slide track. This slide came down during Hurricane Irene in 2011 and is still very unstable in areas. This used to be a very small drainage, no more than a couple feet wide, but now it’s 20 feet wide and littered with loose stones and boulders. The footing is very tough along the slide track and at time slippery. As you near the top of the slide, there are some very steep sections where care is needed to safely pass. Also the higher you get and with every step a new view shows itself. The headwall is dangerously steep and should be avoided by all but the highly experienced. The headwall can be easily passed to the right.
Once above the slide, the summit is very close and will require some fine-tuned navigation to locate the wooded summit. The forest is relatively open and a flag should be located on the summit tree. To make a loop trip out of the day, use the Cooper Kiln Pond approach to make the return.
Hikers should have experience in bushwhacking and off-trail navigation. Hikers should be in good physical condition and able to climb steep terrain. Bring GPS and/or Map and Compass, eye protection, and seasonally appropriate clothing and footwear. Slides are unsafe and should only be attempted by experienced hikers and climbers. Using a rope and harness is always good practice.
4.7 miles RT, Challenging Climb, rock climbing skills needed, Elevation: 3458’
Wilmington Peak - Slide Approach Trailhead: From the main intersection in Wilmington, where Route 86 meets The Whiteface Memorial Highway follow Bonnieview Road. Continue here for 3.2 miles to the state trailhead on the left for Cooper Kiln Pond.
Time in hours:
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: To Summit: 2.0 Round Trip: 4.0, or more, depending on ease of ascent
Out of Shape Hiker: Not recommended