The 1st mile of the hike is along the old Denning Road and it's only a slight incline to the trail junction with the Peekamoose-Table Trail. This intersection is also the western end of the Finger Lakes Trail. For our trip we turned right off the Denning Road/Phoencia East Branch Trail and headed down the hill slightly along the Peekamoose-Table Trail to its crossing of the East Branch of the Neversink River. There are currently two bridges getting you across the braided stream here, but during high water, even with the bridges, the crossing can be harrowing (and outright dangerous). We lucked out with an easy crossing.
From the Neversink, the trail turns and begins to really climb up the side of Table Mountain. I'd estimate there's about 1/2 of a mile of steady, steep climbing from the river up to the crest of the ridge that the trail follows to Table Mountain. There is something of a view to the south here though, with a through the trees look at Van Wyck Mountain.
From that ridge crest though, the trail actually descends slightly before climbing another rise, then descends again before climbing to the summit of Table, but not before it passes a spring and the lean-to. The spring is on a short side trail about a tenth of a mile before the lean-to's side trail. The lean-to is located almost at the 3500 foot elevation, while the summit of Table Mountain is 3847 feet.
The lean-to is located to the right of the trail as you are climbing and is a few hundred feet from the Peekamoose-Table Trail. There is no view from the lean-to, but there is a view on Table Mountain between the lean-to site and the summit of the mountain. The only water available is downhill at the spring, which I am told is fairly reliable, but can run dry during very dry periods. The total distance from the intersection of the Peekamoose-Table Trail and the Phoenicia East Branch Trail to the Table Mountain Lean-to is 2.75 miles.
On the way down we actually bushwhacked around the two lower knolls on the ridge since it seems pretty stupid for the trail to go over them - there are no views or anything. We just contoured around both of them and picked up the trail on the other side. Not sure it really saved us any time, but I didn't have to go up and over two bumps for no reason and probably got to see portions of the woods that few others see.
When we got to the Neversink crossing, we let the dogs jump in and swim around (the main trunk of the Neversink has a pretty deep swimming hole right by the bridge).
I have to say that climb from the Neversink back up to the intersection of the Old Denning Road/Phoenicia East Branch Trail is a real pain in the butt after hiking all day. It's not very long and not very steep, but by the time we got there at least, I think it earned the expletive laden name I was told by others they had named it.
The hike back out the Old Denning Road was easy though, you can almost jog it since it's basically all downhill and you can really cruise right down. The entire hike was a little over 7 miles.
If we had continued to the summit of Table, the summit of Peekamoose is only 0.85 miles. From there, the trail descends along a ridge on Peekamoose and eventually reaches the trailhead on Peekamoose Road. No real potential for a loop there and it's quite a ride between the Denning Road and Peekamoose Road trailheads. If you stayed on the Old Denning Road/Phoenicia East Branch trail you'd come to the Curtis Monument and the intersection with the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail in about 1.75 miles. From there you can either drop down to the trailhead on the Oliverea Road (1.5 miles) or climb up Slide Mountain (2.5 miles).
Denning Road Trailhead to Junction with Peekamoose-Table Trail - 1.2 miles
Phoenicia East Branch/Peekamoose-Table Trail Junction to Table Mountain Lean-to - 2.4 Miles
Total roadtrip - 7.2 miles
Denning Road Trailhead (2100 feet) / Table Mountain Lean-to (3450 feet)
1350 vertical feet gain and then lossThe full set of photos on Flickr
Need more information on hiking and planning your
trips to the Catskills and the Catskill Park?
Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information. We have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to visiting the Catskill Park.
Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills? We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set. These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park. The Catskill Center offers a regional map of the Catskills that provides an excellent overview of the region, it's roadways, attractions and trails. National Geographic Trails Illustrated also produces a map for the region.
How about a guidebook? Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and the Adventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.
If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line. For the most comprehensive natural history of the Catskill Park and the Forests of the Catskill region, we recommend reading The Catskill Forest, a History by Michael Kudish.