Van Wyck to Table & Peekamoose (updated)

Two plane wrecks. Two bear holes. Two talus fields. One incredible view.

Hike Length: 11.0 miles (17.70 km)

Total Ascent: 3,075ft (937m)

Intensity: Hardest Catskills Hike

Route Type: Loop

Includes: Blazed Trail, Unmarked Trail, Herd Path, True Bushwhack, Road Walk, Stream Crossing, River Crossing

Parent Van Wyck

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scenic view mountain summits

Van Wyck seen from Peekamoose

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 A very difficult hike that’s best tackled in a group with experienced hikers.

Hiking Trail Description

This route is very long and very tough — still one of the toughest hikes I’ve done.

The ascent of Van Wyck is extremely steep. And the descent on the other side passes though a gnarly talus field that sits at the base of a steep cliff. After all that, the bushwhack from Van Wyck to Table — in black fly season — feels truly endless.

On the other hand, the first time I did this hike was with the Catskill 3500 Club and one member of our group was the lovely Marguerite — a septuagenarian, 420 gridder, and local hiking legend. It was a pleasure to spend time hiking in Marguerite’s company.

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Van Wyck Route Notes

Our group assembled at the trailhead for the Peekamoose-Table trail on Route 42, then hiked about ¼ mile west on the road to gain entry to Bear Hole Brook.

I don’t recommend this beginning. Instead of this very sketchy start, I recommend using the old woods road that begins about 300 ft further west on Peekamoose Rd. It’s quite easy to follow and soon re-joins the GPS route shown on this page.

We began making our way up Van Wyck’s southern ridge. There are a lot of old woods roads here, and the area is dotted with stone ruins

stone ruins in winter
Ruins on Van Wyck Mountain

Van Wyck Plane Wrecks

Very quickly, we came to the first of two plane wrecks on Van Wyck.

The lower wreck is a single-engine T-33 military trainer jet that crashed during acrobatics testing in 1962. Both occupants were killed. The wreck is located at apx 2280’ / 41.92762 N, -74.43955 W.

The site is large and obvious, even in the spring growth. This is just a small part of it…

jet engine wrecked in forest
Jet engine
jet engine wreck in winter, covered in snow
Jet engine in winter

On this day, we did not find the second site, a civilian plane wreck from 1977. We searched a very large area but I think we were a little too south.

In March 0f 2023, I re-hiked Van Wyck, with a tip for its location, and found the upper wreck easily at 2650’ / 41.945054 N, 74.437503 W.

memorial plaque at site of plane wreck
Memorial Plaque, 1977 Plane Wreck

There are many wrecks in the Catskills. They are fascinating but tragic sites. Please be respectful.

blue plane wreck
Blue wreckage, easy to spot in the snow
plane wreckage covered in snow
1977 plane wreck on Van Wyck

Both wrecks are on the the main ridge. It’s relatively easy to hit both on your way up.

Not far from the upper wreck, you’ll find two large…

Bear Holes

The bear holes are at 41.94923 N, -74.43612 W. Basically, just two very large holes right next to each other. Quite odd to find in the woods.

Supposedly, they were used to trap bears, but I’m dubious. A bear would have no problem escaping either hole. Maybe they had steeper sides in the days of yore? Who knows.

As it is, their proximity to each other and their utility are likely forever mysterious. They don’t photograph well, but here’s what one looks like in winter…

large depression
Bear hole in winter

Definitely worth checking out, though.

After the bear holes, the route to Van Wyck’s summit suddenly becomes intensely steep.

Van Wyck Summit Climb

In summer it was tough going. In winter, with snowshoes on, we were hanging on for dear life.

At the 3000’ contour look for a small cave.

Above 3000’ the hiking gets much easier, though the brush is very thick. You may find a herd path or two.

Make your way to the summit, which is well treed-in but marked with a small cairn.

A little southeast of the summit is an open ledge that’s the perfect spot for lunch. The view is apx 180° but centers dramatically on Table and Peekamoose to the east…

scenic view
Table and Peekamoose seen from Van Wyck
snowy mountaintops
Table & Peekamoose

From this vantage point, Table’s long, beautiful, flat ridge is hidden directly behind its summit…

snowy mountaintop
Summit of Table mountain in winter

But Peekamoose looks very cool…

snowy mountain summit
Peekamnoose summit

Van Wyck to Table

hiker on open ledge
Hiker taking one last photo…

From the big view, make your way along Van Wyck’s northeastern ridge, toward the col between Van Wyck and Table. The hike from Van Wyck to Table’s summit is only about 1.75 miles but it took us over two hours…

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Similar Hikes

This is one of the most memorable and scenic Catskills hikes.

It’s also one of the hardest hikes in the Catskills.

By following a less tricky route, you could visit both plane wrecks without much trouble.

You might also enjoy hiking Table, Peekamoose, Lone & Rocky as a loop.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Van Wyck.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

6 responses to “Van Wyck to Table & Peekamoose (updated)

  1. Completed this hike 11/7/20. Used the old logging road for the first 1.5 miles or so that led directly into a herd path that has been blazed with cut out beer can bottoms nailed to trees for about another .75 of a mile. Not sure how recent this was done but the expiration dates on the beer cans were printed with a 7/20 date so Id imagine that this is fairly new. So essentially, the real bushwhack didnt start until about 2.5 miles in. Following the summit of Van Wyck through the leafless trees made the relatively flat trek fairly easy. With luck, we stumbled upon one of the plane crashes just before the ascent up. The debris field is absolutely massive with this wreck. Upon our poking around of the site, we noticed a small plaque strapped to a tree memorializing the 5 victims of the crash as well as the Nov 5, 1977 date the accident happened. The gps coordinates for the crash are 41.94505, -74.43769. This also happened to be exactly mile 3 of our hike. After that, it was an extremely steep ascent to the summit of Van Wyck where we found the stunning views of Table, Peekamoose and the ridge line we would follow to get there. The summit of Table loomed intimidatingly as we got closer but the climb never really got very steep to the summit. From there it was a very quick pace over to Peekamoose as we were finally back on trail which felt like a paved road considering the first half the hike. Definitely doing Van Wyck again….and again lol. Sorry for rambling but this was just a great hike!

  2. Is this bushwacking in keeping with LNT principles? I worry that especially with the reach your page has, that people will trample and harm these lands.

    1. Yes, it is, if done correctly. It is one of the best ways to experience wilderness. No-one should step off trail without being fully prepared in terms of knowledge, gear, and principles. LNT is about not trashing nature. It is not about not experiencing nature.

  3. I have done this hike with a few modifications. I did not bother to hike up the brook but took the woods road for about .3 miles before heading NNW. After picking up the first crash site, I headed due north along a “spine”, hitting the second crash site and the bear holes.After that the climb up Van Wyck which is steep at 27%. This can be mitigated by heading slightly west and then up. After taking in the view from Van Wyck, I headed along Catskill divide which was pretty open until the final ascent up to Table or at least the trail to Table. This is interesting as you can easily see that the land drops off on both sides. This is about a 1.2 miles walk after the descent off Van Wyck or about 2 miles total. From There I went to the “summit” of Table and the followed the trail to Peekamoose and downhill all the way to the car.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Small and busy. Get there early.

Google Maps Location: 41.914934, -74.429457

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead