Van Wyck to Table & Peekamoose

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

Similar Entries In: Catskills, The Hardest Hikes, , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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 my first hike, we did not find the second site, a civilian plane wreck from 1977.

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.

They don’t photograph well, but here’s what one looks like in winter…

large depression
Bear hole in winter

As it is, their proximity to each other, and their utility, are likely forever a mystery. Definitely worth checking out, though.

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

Van Wyck Summit Climb

In summer, it’s tough going. In winter, with snowshoes on, you’ll be 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 absolutely wonderful open ledge that’s the perfect spot for lunch. The view is apx 180° and centers dramatically on Table and Peekamoose to the east…

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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.

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.

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9 responses to “Van Wyck to Table & Peekamoose

  1. I don’t know if you’re still reading comments from this, but that first wreck was my grandfather. Is it easy to get to? I know my uncle and father were maybe wanting to visit it.

    1. Hi Brooke. Yes, that lower wreck is relatively easy to get to for people with backcountry hiking skills. There’s no trail, so it requires off-trail navigation. I would love to know more about your grandfather, if you feel comfortable sharing. I would be happy to include some details in the post, if you like. Feel free to reply here or use the contact form on the site to start an email exchange. Whatever works for you. Thank you for writing.

    2. I just plotted a route and it’s 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the site, with about 1,100 feet of elevation gain. So it would be a round trip of about 3.5 miles and take 2-3 hours depending on your speed. The route follows old woods roads for the most part, and the last half mile is wild forest.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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