High Peak Number 23/46!
What is up Road Trip Warriors!? This past weekend on 11/16/2019, I hiked my 23rd Adirondack High Peak! I am so excited to be at the halfway point for becoming an Adirondack 46er. I started this hiking journey back in 2017 and haven’t stopped since. The best time of year to hike is now, in my opinion. Yes, it is cold and icy, but the pros outweigh the cons ten-fold. The crowds disappear, the bugs are gone, and there isn’t any mud. The snow-capped peaks and the frozen coniferous trees paint the most iconic winter scenes in New York. Here is a bunch of information and photos from this remarkable hike!
Summary of Phelps Mountain
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Length: 4.1 miles to summit, 8.2 miles round trip
- Elevation: 4,161′ above sea level
- Hiking Time: 8-9 hours
- Elevation Gain: Approximately 2,000′ (most of the gain is in the last mile)
- Photo Opportunities: Once you are nearing the summit of Phelps, there are plenty of openings to capture the stunning MacIntyre Range. The summit of Phelps also offers views of Mount Marcy, Mount Colden, and Mount Haystack.
The trailhead for Phelps Mountain can be found at the Adirondack Loj. Follow Route 73 towards Lake Placid and Adirondack Loj Road will eventually be on your left. You will reach it well before reaching the ski jumps. Follow the road for about 3 miles and you will have reached the Loj. It costs $12 to park for the day. Don’t forget to sign in at the wooden structure at the trailhead!
Getting Ready to Begin the Hike
So it takes a little longer to get ready for a hike in snowy conditions than during the Fall or Summer. If there is over of 8 inches of snow on the ground, snowshoes are required. You’ll also want much more gear such as micro-spikes, snow pants, extra layers, gloves, etc. If you plan on hiking in winter conditions, please be prepared. I crossed paths with numerous people wearing untied timberland boots filled with snow, people wearing jeans, and other improper attire. I am not poking fun at anyone, and I think it is great that people want to get outside. Just be safe about it and have all the necessary gear to keep you warm!….Anyways…back to the hike!
You will start at the trailhead from the Loj following the blue trail-markers. Eventually you will cross a wooden bridge and continue along the relatively flat trail. The trail remains undemanding and it comes to a split after one mile. On your right, you can head towards Algonquin Peak which will also get you to Wright and Iroquois. On your left, the trail will lead to the Marcy Dam Lean-To, Avalanche Lake, and Mount Marcy. This is the trail you will want to take if you are heading to summit Phelps Mountain.
Marcy Dam (2.1 miles to Phelps)
This is a scenic spot in the Adirondacks where you’ll emerge from the forest and the mountains and wilderness surround you. I don’t know what it looks like when it isn’t frozen, but it sure did look beautiful in the snow. It is a great spot for a break and to take photos. Below you can see a picture of the dam itself.
At the dam, you will want to take a left. There is a bridge this way that will get you across the water and to the sign on the opposite side of the dam. Take notice at this sign that you are only 2.1 miles from summiting Phelps Mountain! The trail remains rather undemanding between here and the next sign.
Break at the One Mile Sign to Phelps
I HIGHLY suggest taking a stop at this sign to hydrate and eat some food. You’re going to need the energy boost. Most of the elevation gain of this hike is in the last mile. It is very steep, and during mid-November, the trail is a mix of snow and ice.
It took about an hour and fifteen minutes of climbing to get to that first opening where the views of the Adirondack High Peaks opened up. It was more than worth it.
First Opening for a View
The view you get once you break tree-line while climbing Phelps is spectacular. You are rewarded for the hard work you put in while climbing up the last mile of the trail with commanding views of the MacIntyre Range. This time of year, when the mountains are draped in white blankets of snow, are the most picturesque. Here is the view of the MacIntyre Range.
Summit of Phelps
The summit of Phelps Mountain is not a 360º view, BUT it offers a large open area where you’ll be able to view Mount Colden, Marcy, Haystack, and still have sight of the MacIntyre Range! I could have spent hours here taking pictures and taking in the Adirondack scenery. My brother and I ate Stewart’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the summit while taking hundreds of photographs and numerous videos.
Getting Back to the Trailhead
Getting back to the Adirondack Loj from Phelps Mountain is self-explanatory. You will just backtrack the same way that you went when hiking up to the summit. When you reach Marcy Dam, take a right and watch for the sign that points to the left where you will recross the wooden bridge.
Despite the snow and the cold temperatures, I did see some snow pups hiking with their humans! One was a Siberian Husky with beautiful blue eyes and another was a fluffy golden retriever with orange booties on his paws! Obviously you know your dog(s) best, but just a friendly reminder to make sure they are comfortable in the snow and chillier weather!
I crossed paths with a few youngsters on this trail. I didn’t see any going up or down Phelps Mountain though. This trail, minus the last mile up to the summit, was relatively undemanding. I would say that most individuals could handle this trail. If you plan on doing it in the ice and snow, just make sure you dress appropriately and have the proper gear in your bag.
- Timberland Hiking Boots
- Nike Compression Leggings
- Athletic shorts
- Adidas Joggers
- Underarmour long-sleeve
- Athletic T-shirt
- Athletic Long Sleeve Pullover
- LL Bean mid-layer jacket
- Winter Beanie
- EMS Hiking socks (warmest pair they make)
- Gloves (with hand warmers in them from Stewarts)
- Kahtoola microspikes
- 2.5L of water
- Almonds, peanut butter granola bars, and peanut butter sandwiches
- Extra hiking socks
- LL Bean outer-shell jacket
- Extra Wind-breaker jacket
- Extra shirts, compression shorts, and underarmour
- Wind/Rain Pants
- Emergency tents and blankets
- Paracord and two carabiners
- Water-proof matches
- LifeStraw (water filtration, costs about $20)
- Trekking poles
- First-Aid Kit
- Garmin inReach (satellite device that has a GPS, can send texts, send SOS, and has many other helpful features)
Hey guys, gals, and fellow Road Trip Warriors! I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful if you were planning to hike Phelps Mountain! I have twenty-three more Adirondack High Peaks to go so there will be plenty more posts about those trails and summits! Anyways….SMASH that like button, leave a comment to reach out, and subscribe to the most fun and informative outdoor blog that there is in the Northeast! I look forward to sharing more!