Spring forward: with an extra hour of daylight this weekend and a few days of warmer temperatures this week, Catskills hikers are gearing up for the start of spring. Hikers should expect there to still be several inches of snow on most trails, especially at higher elevations where there could be 1-2 feet of remaining snow. Hikers should also plan for very high winds on Friday evening. Prepare for hikes with snowshoes, micro spikes, gaiters, and trekking poles this weekend. Stay safe, consider alternate plans, and please continue to follow New York State and CDC regulations before traveling.
Trail Conditions: With the thaw and freeze cycles of warm daytime temperatures and cold overnight temperatures right now, trails will have frozen snow and ice early on in the day and in shaded areas, and snow will become softer, wet snow by midday. Especially when the snow starts to soften and you’re sinking down, it’s a good idea to hike with snowshoes. You can always store snowshoes in or on your backpack for the parts of the trail where you don’t need them. For information on renting snowshoes, visit our Winter Tips page here.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, mostly sunny with a high near 60. Friday night, partly cloudy with a low around 28. Blustery, with a west wind 9 to 14 mph increasing to 16 to 21 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph. Saturday, sunny with a high near 42. Saturday night, mostly clear with a low around 25. Sunday, mostly sunny with a high near 41. Sunday night, mostly clear, with a low around 19. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
DEC Announces a Ban on Residential Brush Burning Starting Soon: From March 16th through May 14th, there is a ban in NY State on any residential burning of brush or debris to prevent spring wildfires. “…the start of spring brings an increased risk of wildfires right here in New York,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “In an effort to protect our communities and natural resources, New York prohibits residential burning for two months starting on March 16, when dry conditions are highest.”
Trail Register Information: (the books found inside metal boxes at the start of all hiking trails): The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation encourages all visitors to continue to sign in and out at trail registers. These provide important information on trail usage and hiker safety. It is suggested to choose one person in your group to fill in the register for everyone, consider bringing your own pen or pencil, and bring hand sanitizer to use before and after touching the trail register.
Temporary Closures: The following destinations are closed in the Catskills. For any information or clarification, please feel free to call (845) 688-3369 or email firstname.lastname@example.org:
– The building of the Catskills Visitor Center in Mt. Tremper, NY is currently closed, however a window service on the side porch is available for visitor information from 10-3, every day except Wednesday. Staff is answering phone calls at 845-688-3369. Visitor Center trails are open.
– Seasonal access roads across the Catskills are now closed and unmaintained for the winter months.
– DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more (link to: the DEC’s website). As of June 11, the DEC resumed issuing permits for groups of fewer than 10 people who would like to stay for more than three nights at one location on state lands. DEC is also temporarily restricting lean-to use to members of a single household at a time.
Doubletop and Graham Access: As of Wednesday, January 13th 2021 public access to the two peaks, Doubletop and Graham Mountain has ended. We at Catskill Center are thankful to the landowners who have made their property accessible to hikers for many years and respect their decision. The Catskill 3500′ Club has decided that the remaining 33 peaks will make up the collection of Catskill mountains to be hiked for membership of the club.
Peekamoose Blue Hole: No permits are required at this time. DEC permits are required to visit this site on weekends and holidays from May 15 – September 13. Permits are available as late as one day in advance, but more no more than seven days in advance. Permits can be acquired from the Reserve America website at: https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com
Hiking Tips to Prepare for Winter:
– Trails can get more slick, slippery and unpredictable during the winter months due to ice, snow, and wet surfaces. Bring traction devices for your feet, and trekking poles for your hands to aid in safe travel.
– Due to snow, think about bringing things like waterproof hiking boots, gaiters, snowshoes, and trekking poles. Follow best Leave No Trace practices by walking through the midline of mud and snow on trails instead of walking around those areas.
– Temperatures are low, especially in the overnight. Bringing a full clothing layering system with you in your pack is essential for day hikes or overnight hikes. This includes non-cotton layers, warm hat and gloves (extras if you have them), and a “puffy” – an insulated jacket that’s easy to take on and off throughout your hike.
As always, bring a mask, even on the trails. While hiking with the people you live with, wearing a mask is not mandatory. However, while on summits, trailheads, points of interest, and even passing others please wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Especially in areas such as parking lots and trailheads, there has been a reduction in people actively wearing masks. The continued use of masks in these areas is incredibly important for the general the health and safety of all in the Catskills.
Recreate Responsibly: An informative set of guidelines put together by several outdoor organizations. The Catskill Center recommends following the Recreate Responsibly principles and taking precautions before, during, and after your outing to decrease your chance of exposure to COVID-19.
Carry It In, Carry It Out: The Catskill Park is a carry it in, carry it out park—please be sure to hike out all of your trash and dispose of it properly!
Weather: Be aware of and prepared for changing weather conditions in the Catskills. Stay current with the National Weather Service Weather Forecast. The NY Mesonet has stations in and just outside of Catskills that provide real time weather data and forecasts. Hudson Valley Weather provides detailed forecasts for the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
In An Emergency: Report backcountry emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers and forest fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-408-5850 or call 911.
The Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey Catskills Visitor Center (CVC) hosts a weather station in the MesoWest Network. Check the current weather conditions. The Center is located at 5096 Route 28 in Mt Tremper, NY. The Visitor Center building is currently closed, however trails remain open. Please remember to socially distance when visiting the CVC’s trails by giving other visitors 6 feet minimum distance and wearing a mask when you meet others.