The day before I climbed Mt Marcy in 1995, I set up a tent and then climbed Phelps Mtn (4161'). Unfortunately, it rained that day and I didn't see much from the ledges on Phelps. That night it poured rain but the next day was sunny and I managed to climb Mt Marcy. Since then I had always wanted to go back to Phelps to see the views that I missed due to the rain.
The best route is from the parking lot at Adirondak Loj, but this lot was full. As an alternative, I parked at the South Meadow area. This adds 0.7 miles each way, 1.4 miles total, to the trip, plus more elevation gain and a whole series of ups and downs on the undulating trail in. However, it was worth it to climb Phelps.
I started at 9:33 AM and reached Marcy Dam at 10:45 AM. Since the floods of Irene, this dam has been destroyed and the lake drained. From this spot, the same trail goes to Mt Marcy and to Phelps until the trail to Phelps branches off. Some of the hikers just were going to Indian Falls. It's a long way to Marcy, 14.8 miles round trip, and a very rough trail with tons of rock hopping, but strong hikers can do it in a day.
As usual I just took my time and eventually, by 1:20 PM, I arrived at the summit. The views were magnificent. I could see Mt Marcy, Colden, Gothics, Big Slide, Giant and Camels Hump, (all of which I have climbed). I got to talk to a number of the friendly hikers on the summit. I had lunch and just enjoyed the views.
Finally at 2:03 PM I started back down. The weather reports for today were Mostly Sunny, about 70 degrees, but actually it was Mostly Cloudy until late afternoon, when it did finally clear to Mostly Sunny. This happens in the mountains a lot. Still, it was good hiking weather and tons of hikers were out enjoying it. On my trip I met and spoke with a number of them, and I also met a hiking dog named Rocky and another hiking dog named Zorchy. All of the dogs I met this day were very well behaved and were kept on leash (a requirement here due to the crowds of people who climb Marcy). Considering how many people climb Marcy, it is a pity they don't do more trail work on this very rough and demanding trail.
By 4:37 I was back at Marcy Dam. After that I had a snack break and ate some Vanilla Wafers. By 6:05 I was back at my car and ready to head home. It's a very beautiful mountain and well worth the rough trail to get to the summit.