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SWIMMING THROUGH TREES: Try the Cooper Kiln Pond approach to Wilmington Peak

Spencer Morrissey heads up Wilmington Peak. (Photo provided)

To approach Wilmington Peak from the south you should use this approach for the best direct access.

From the trailhead the trail starts out on a flat course before gaining elevation and settled water. This route can be a very wet hike most times of the year. During the rainy season it can have running water on the trail. The climb along the trail at this point starts to get very steep before topping on the shoulder of Morgan Mountain to your right.

From the top of the pass the trail descends along a steady course to the shore of Copper Kiln Pond. There has been a ton of beaver activity in the area and at times the trail can be flooded, be prepared. The trail then follows along the shore to the lean-to and camping area. Just past the lean-to, a herd path can be seen on the left that will access you around the pond farther and the faint herd path that is developing to the summit of Wilmington Peak.

If you cannot find the herd-path it is no big deal, the forest is rather open and the route is obvious, just follow the ridge. The herd-path follows closely to the top of the ridge line but often drops below the ridge to the east. Following through the open forest you will have sneak peeks at Catamount Mountain to the northwest. The summit can be a bit hard to find, but the herd-path is much more obvious on the highest ridge and it leads to the summit tree, which should have a ribbon upon it.

Elevation: 3,458 feet

Ascent: 1,100 feet

Distance round trip: 6.5 miles

Approximate time round trip: 5 hours

Trailhead: From the main intersection in Wilmington, where state Route 86 meets The Whiteface Memorial Highway follow the Wilmington Memorial Highway. Continue for 2.9 miles to Franklin Falls Road on the right and follow Franklin Falls Road for 0.6 miles to the trailhead on the right for Copper Kiln Pond. Be sure not to take the left to the toll gate for Whiteface Mountain.

Hiker recommendation: Hikers should have experience in bushwhacking and off-trail navigation. Hikers should be in good physical condition and able to climb steep terrain. Not recommended for young children.

Special gear: GPS and/or map and compass, eye protection, long pants, sturdy over the ankle boots.

Winter access: This is a popular cross-country ski route so the trail in most cases should be used. Be prepared to break trail along the bushwhack section of this route. Be aware that heavy snows will exist in this area.