Upon finishing this 18.5-mile, 5,400-vertical foot hike, I reflected that these three mountains are really just hiked together by peakbaggers. [A ‘peakbagger’ is someone who, for whatever reason, seeks to summit as many mountains as possible.]
This trio is connected via the heavily-maintained Van Hoevenberg trail, the primary route to New York’s highest peak, Mount Marcy. Phelps Mountain is a 1.2-mile spur and Tabletop Mountain another 0.6-mile spur, neither one as dramatic or interesting as Marcy.
So why did I hike all three? I needed Tabletop for my second round of 46, I needed all three for my Autumnal round, and I had a terrific day for a long hike. In other words, I was peakbagging.
I passed the junction for Phelps (which I sometimes miss) and started the day with a summit of Tabletop, about 2 hours 20 minutes after signing in. Just beyond the summit is a ledge where you can see a little of the Great Range, but mostly the view is of the broad hillside leading to Mount Marcy.
Back to the Van Hoevenberg, I made great time past Indian Falls and even better time on the final mile to the top of Marcy. As the highest point, the views are obviously open and wide, but I was more impressed that I had the summit almost all to myself on such a beautiful day. I stayed on the summit for an hour, enjoying the crisp air and calm breeze.
I retraced my route back again to the junction with Phelps Mountain. While I was chilly on the summit, it had warmed considerably on the descent and at the 13-mile point of my day I wasn’t completely convinced that I needed the summit. But this would be my first three-season peak (having previously climbed Phelps in summer and spring) so I headed up.
While I prefer our first route to Phelps, the spur from Van Hoevenberg is fine, with the last third or so on nice open slabs. I was wishing for a bit more breeze, even on the summit, so I didn’t linger and headed back.
10.5 hours later, I signed out. I wasn’t initially sold on the day’s plan, but like the previous day’s hike I ended up liking it more than expected. A fine peakbagging day!