After a couple of long and stressful weeks, I took some time on Friday February 21, 2020 to hike Phelps and Tabletop mountains in the Adirondack High Peaks. These are two excellent hikes, often overlooked because of their bigger neighbors, Mt. Marcy and Algonquin.
The temperatures on the way up were all over the place, from the lowest of -20F to about 10F at the trailhead of Cascade on Rt 73 just outside of Keene NY. At the Adirondack Loj parking lot it was 0F when I arrived at 8:00am.
Leaving the Loj, the turn off for Phelps is about 3 miles out. From there it’s one mile to the top. It’s a long Adirondack mile for sure, but much easier in the winter as compared to the summer.
I had the summit of Phelps to myself, always a nice time. There was very little wind, so even though it was cold, it was comfortable. Marcy and Algonquin were still socked in the clouds, but they are still breathtaking, especially with the surrounding high peaks in view.
I was still undecided as to whether or not I wanted to do Tabletop as I headed down Phelps. The trip down Phelps was quick, and with some buttslidding, a good time. After a short break I decided that Tabletop was too close to pass up. Off I went.
The herd path turn off for Tabletop is about a mile from the Phelps turnoff. As this is the Van Ho trail to Marcy, there is a solid amount of elevation gain in that mile. Tabletop does not have a marked or maintained trail, it’s a herd path – just follow where everyone else has walked. It’s about .7 up to the summit. During the summer you are walking in a stream bed, with lots of mud at elevation. There are some fantastic views once you get above the tree line, and a great view of Marcy, and the Great Range from the summit.
I didn’t spend much time on the summit, as it was crowded and there was a cold wind blowing. It is such a nice peak, and nothing technical to deal with in any season.
It was a bit of a long day, but beautiful. I had some nice conversations on the trails, and enjoyed some people skiing the Angel slide on Wright Peak. Also some guys from Germany skied down from Marcy, and flew into Marcy Dam…glad I wasn’t in their way on the trail.
Mentally I was in good spirits, but this trek physically stressed me for some reason. Maybe the cold? Not enough sleep? Not eating enough on trail? It could be anything. This is one of the amazing aspects of hiking, you can do the same hike you have done before, and have a completely different experience. While it wasn’t bad, and I, thankfully, wasn’t injured, I was super happy to open the Jeep, get out of my snowshoes, and head home.
14 miles, 3000ft of elevation gain, about 7.5 hours on the trail. Excellent day!