Number thirty-two in height in the Adirondacks and one that is often missed being on the trail to Mt. Marcy most people don't seem to have the time to get up it.
The mountain offers great views of Table Top, Indian Falls and Mount Marcy as well as a good view of Algonquin and the Lake Placid Valley, with Whiteface and Easter off in the distance.
A simple route with a few open sections that require a little scrabbling about 1/2 way of the trail.
The peak is largely tree covered but there are a few open parts that offer good views and a nice spot to have lunch and look at Marcy.
The trail is well-maintained all the way to summit and it can be reached by simply following the Van Hoevenberg trail from Adirondack Loj and then taking a sharp left had turn at the Phelps Mt. Trail marker.
The trail can be steep at time and there is some scrabbling up a few small rock faces.
The normal route is to park at Adirondack Loj and follow the Van Hoevenberg trail to Mt Marcy and take a sharp left turn after about 3 miles at the Phelps Mt. Trail marker.
Mormal restrictions apply
When To Climb
Any time of year is good.
Phelps is a good mountain to climb when pressed for time or when arriveing late in the day since the trail is good and very easy to find.
Normal Adirondack restrictions.
1) No Camping above 4,000 feet
2) No camping withing 150 feet of a stream or other water source except at a designated campsite.
3) No soap or washing withing 150 feet of water
4) Pack it in Pack it out is the rule for garbage
5) Only dead and down wood can be used for fires and set in a proper fire pit. ( local etiquette is to use a stove and not a fire)
Some good sites:
Adirondack Hiking Portal
What's in a name
Phelps is one of the few mountains in the world that are actually named after mountaineer.
Orson Schofield Phelps (1817-1905) a.k.a. Old Mountain Phelps was the one who cut the first trail up to Mt Marcy as well he guided the first women to the top. Over a very long career he guided many parties to its summit and many others as well and is most remebered for his close assiation with Verplanck Colvin. He also named a good number of the summits and quickly became a legend in the area thanks to writers like Charles Dudley Warner and was able to ask for the outrageous fee of $2.50 to $5.00 a day.
In the late 18th century the climb to Marcy was normally a two to three day trip from Lake Placid one way. (Now one can wake in the morning have a good breakfast get up the mountain and be home for early Dinner).
To give you an idea of what was expected of a guide of the era here is a little extract from Adirondack Guide site that explains it nicely;
Guiding at Saint Huberts consists of a number of duties of which the following are a few: it is the duty of the guide to get the food ready, tote it along, and be sure that there is enough; row all members of the party to and from wherever they wish to go; act as the cook, waiter, chambermaid, and nurse; bough up the lean-tos; keep the fires burning in the evening, and act as a story-teller. The remainder of the time is his own. If you doubt me, try it.
I would love to see the guides at Zermatt, Chamonix or Rainier do all this for their 5$ a day.
Though he most likely never climbed this peak it is most fitting it is named for him. He was perhaps America’s first native-born Mountain Guide.
Phelps was also a writer and his recently unpublished work has just come to light and supposetly it debunks some of the present history of climbing in the Dacks.
One final note is that Phelps till his dieing day never called Mt. Marcy, Mt. Marcy, he always called it Mt Mearcy. Some of the locals and to my surprise many people of New York still use this pronunciation.