Mostly cloudy conditions are expected in the Catskills with a winter storm warning issued until Saturday morning. Temperatures will be in the mid 30s. Trails will be soggy and snow covered. Snowshoes and traction devices are highly recommended on ice and snow. Pack microspikes or crampons to be ready for icy and snowy trail conditions. Microspikes are available for sale or rental at the Catskills Visitor Center. Remember that winter hiking requires more planning than a summer hiking excursion because you need to take extra safety precautions to be ready to combat harsh elements. Hiking season doesn’t have to end with the arrival of winter. With preparation and the right gear, you can enjoy your favorite day hiking trails year round.
Trail Conditions: This week’s trail conditions are sponsored by Central Hudson. We’ll see a cloudy weekend for the Catskills with a winter storm impacting the southern Adirondacks, Mohawk Valley, Schoharie Valley, eastern Catskills, Lake George Saratoga Region, northwestern parts of the Capital Region, and the Helderbergs regions. Temperatures will linger in the mid 30s. Snow accumulations could reach 18 inches in some locations, with other areas seeing 6-12 inches. Temperatures are steadily becoming colder as winter approaches. Be sure to stick to trails and walk directly through mud puddles to reduce trail-widening impacts. Prepare for your hike with proper boots, ankle gaiters, and trekking poles to ensure easy travel through the middle of muddy sections. It is recommended to pack snowshoes and traction devices. If trail conditions are inconsistent, (hard ice, soft snow, rocks, mud) a pair of microspikes designed for mixed terrain is your best bet. Conditions can abruptly turn snowy, wet, windy, or chilly in the backcountry or an injury can result in an unplanned night out, so carry extra clothes and gear. Dressing in layers and having extra dry, warm clothes in your backpack is one of the essentials to safe winter hiking. As winter conditions can be variable, it’s also important to remain mentally flexible as well. If you forgot your microspikes and poles at home and the trail is covered in ice, don’t go. If you come to a section with deep powder and you don’t have snowshoes, turn back and explore somewhere else.
Sunrise is at 7:18 am and sunset is at 4:26 pm. This weekend brings a Waning Crescent moon. Always bring a headlamp or flashlight with you and never rely solely on your phone flashlight.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday: Periods of rain and snow. Temperatures nearly steady in the mid 30s. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 100%. Snow accumulations less than one inch. Friday night: Watching a potential winter storm. Snow will taper off and end in the evening but skies will remain cloudy overnight. Low near 30F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 90%. Saturday: Sunshine and clouds mixed. A few flurries or snow showers are possible. High around 35F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Saturday night: A few clouds. Low near 20F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy skies. High 32F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Sunday night: Partly cloudy skies during the evening will give way to cloudy skies overnight. Low 24F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.
THIS WEEK’S HIKING TIP: Bring safety gear.
- Bring a trail map, first aid kit, compass, pocket knife or multi-tool, hand-warming packets, and a headlamp.
Additional Hiking Tips for Cold Weather:
- Leave a trip itinerary with a friend who knows who to call if you are late in returning.
- For safety, do not hike alone in winter.
- If you are not an experienced winter hiker, make your initial trips day hikes in areas that you are familiar with. Go on trips with experienced winter hikers who are familiar with the area and local conditions.
- Never count on a fire or stove to keep you warm. Learn how to build an emergency shelter.
- Stay alert for the signs of hypothermia, frostbite, or trench foot. Know the signs and symptoms and how to treat them before you set out. Take a Wilderness First Aid class to prepare yourself better.
- Use microspikes. (Microspikes are made of chains and tiny spikes that slip on over your boots. They’re helpful in icy conditions on flat terrain and are usually inexpensive. Winter hiking often means you might encounter snow and ice on the trail, so you’ll want more traction on your footwear to prevent slipping. Microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes are the three footwear options for winter hiking, depending on the conditions.
- Deep snow may obscure trail blazing or trail markers. Topographical maps, a compass, and knowledge of how to use them is essential. Do not rely on a GPS. It’s not accurate enough.
- Learn basic first aid. Learning first aid is an important and necessary life skill for anyone spending time outdoors. In winter, things can quickly become more serious.
- Bring sunglasses and sun protection. The sun reflects well off the snow which can be blinding and increase your risk of sunburn.
All New Yorkers and visitors should be able to access, enjoy, and feel welcome on state lands. Check out the How To Love Our New York Lands playlist on DEC’s YouTube Channel!
Major Improvement in Clean Water Act Permit Compliance: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that the nation has achieved major improvement in compliance with the Clean Water Act permits over the past five-year period. “New York continues to be a leader in national compliance ⸻sharing our expertise in overseeing thousands of facilities to help make meaningful progress in improving water quality, holding polluters accountable, and benefiting communities across New York State and the U.S.” To learn more, visit the DEC’s website.
Catskills Fire Tower Challenge 2022: the DEC has announced the return of the Catskill Fire Tower Challenge for 2022! Starting on January 1, 2022, and going through December 31, 2022, hikers can earn a prize and a certificate for completing all six of the fire towers in the Catskill Park: Overlook, Red Hill, Balsam Lake, Mount Tremper, Hunter, and the Upper Esopus. Learn more by visiting the Catskill Fire Tower Project website and the DEC’s Fire Tower Challenge website.
Recreate Responsibly: An informative new 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.
Hunting Season Notices: Muzzleloading Deer Season and Late Bow Hunting is in effect from December 12 through December 20, December 26 through Jan 1. For more information, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/huntseason22.pdf
Holiday Deer Hunt is an extension of the late bow and muzzleloader season in effect from December 26 – January 1 in the Southern Zone. Hunters and other recreationists are encouraged to Share the Snow.
Fishing Season Notices:
- From October 16 to March 31, trout fishing is permitted for catch and release only. Valid fishing licenses and artificial lures are required.
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.
Seasonal Roads and Trailhead Closures: The following roads are seasonal roads that are not maintained during winter months and are generally closed from November to April 15th of each year:
- Platte Clove Road – Indian Head Wilderness (Town of Hunter) – closed November 1 to April 15
- Roaring Kill Road – Indian Head Wilderness (Town of Hunter)
- Big Hollow Road – Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness (Town of Windham)
- Russell Brook Road – Delaware Wild Forest (Town of Colchester)
- Mary Smith Road – Delaware Wild Forest (Town of Colchester)
- Ploutz Road – Dry Brook Wild Forest (Town of Middletown)
- Molly Smith Trailhead on Route 23A – Kaaterskill Wild Forest (Town of Hunter)
DEC recommends visitors access Kaaterskill Falls by parking at the Laurel House Road, Schutt Road, or South Lake parking areas.
511NY road closure map (updated daily)
- Catskills Trail Conditions Facebook Group (updated regularly by locals and visitors to the area)
- Catskills 3500′ Club Facebook homepage with updates
- Ulster County Road Closures
Doubletop and Graham Access: As of January 2021 public access to the two peaks, Doubletop and Graham Mountain ended. We at the 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: Permits are not required at this time, as it is off-season. Permits are required every day during the week to access the entirety of the Peekamoose Valley Riparian Corridor during the permit season. This includes day hike access to Peekamoose and Table Mountains, camping, access to the Blue Hole, and Buttermilk Falls. DEC permits are required to visit this site from May 15 – Sept 15. Permits can be acquired from the Reserve America website at: https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com
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! Note that most trails will not have any garbage receptacles. Always be prepared to take any garbage back in your car with you.
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 open from 9:30 am-4:00 pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from December through March. Trails open from dawn to dusk. Email us at the Catskills Visitor Center: email@example.com, or call us at (845) 688-3369. The Center’s online store carries trail maps, trail guides, and more for purchase.
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