Spring Hiking and Bear Safety Tips for the Catskills

Mud Season Tips: What is mud season? It is the time in early to mid-spring when our snowpack is melting or has just melted, and is when our trails here in the Catskills are extra wet. We want you to be able to enjoy our trails any time of the year, but we want to […]

Mud Season Tips: What is mud season? It is the time in early to mid-spring when our snowpack is melting or has just melted, and is when our trails here in the Catskills are extra wet. We want you to be able to enjoy our trails any time of the year, but we want to make sure you can enjoy mud season’s soggy trails safely and without damaging them or the surrounding environment! 

Trails are slippery when wet and muddy!

As ice and snow melts, you might be tempted to think trails become easier to walk, but a muddy, wet trail forces you to pay attention to where you step. First of all, mud-caked boots don’t grip as much, second Catskill rocks are slippery when wet! Expect to hike slower than normal and proceed with caution during your hike.

Trekking poles are always helpful, but especially so on wet, muddy trails. They help you keep your balance and make hiking easier.

Our highest trails in the Catskills often keep snow and ice late into the spring! Traction aids, such as microspikes are essential in these conditions and will be needed at higher elevations long after we’ve put our snowshoes in the closet or the trailhead looks like spring is firmly in place. Be sure to pack those microspikes!

Our wet trails can be easily damaged!

Wet, muddy trails are more prone to erosion, as is the soil surrounding our trails. Mud season hiking requires walking in the center of the treadway and/or stepping on our many Catskill rocks wherever possible. This preserves both the trail and your footwear. 

If you are tempted to walk around a wet area, remember that you are damaging plants and loosening soil, which will result in erosion and natural resource damage.

Find your trail!

We do have trails that you can enjoy in soggy spring conditions without causing damage. Stop by the Catskills Visitor Center or give the Visitor Center staff a call at (845-688-3369) for suggestions. You can also visit them on the web at catskillsvisitorcenter.org

Keep Feet Dry and Comfy

You need the right gear! Be sure to wear waterproof boots in the spring. Gaiters will also help keep your feet dry. With proper waterproof boots, socks and gaiters, you can keep your feet warm, be steady on your feet and be able to walk in the middle of the trail to prevent additional erosion and trail damage!

Mud Season Information from Leave No Trace (link leaves Catskills Visitor Center’s website)

Bear Safety Tips

Bears in the Catskills come out from hibernation in mid-March. The NYSDEC strongly encourages homeowners to take in bird feeders by then. All trash should also be secured, either in a bear-proof container or indoors where bears can’t access it.

Reducing Human-Bear Conflicts on the DEC’s Website (link leaves Catskills Visitor Center’s website)