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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…
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…
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.
There are many wrecks in the Catskills. They are fascinating but tragic sites. Please be respectful.
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…
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…
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.
From this vantage point, Table’s long, beautiful, flat ridge is hidden directly behind its summit…
But Peekamoose looks very cool…
Van Wyck to Table
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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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…
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