Weekend of December 23
Mostly cloudy and rainy conditions are expected this weekend in the Catskills with a wind advisory in effect until Friday evening. Temperatures Friday will be unseasonably warm, then drop drastically to single digits overnight. Temperatures will be in the low 20s the remainder of the weekend with a flood watch in effect until Saturday morning. Trails will be snow covered and icy. Pack microspikes or crampons to be ready for icy and snowy trail conditions. Microspikes, snowshoes and trekking poles are available for sale or rental at the Catskills Visitor Center. Remember that winter hiking requires more planning than summer hiking 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. There are no biting insects plus there are fewer people on the trails. With preparation and the right gear, you can enjoy your favorite day hiking trails year round.
Trail Conditions: We’ll see a cloudy and rainy weekend for the Catskills with a wind advisory and flood watch in effect. Temperatures Friday will be in the low 50s with the remainder of the weekend seeing temperatures in the low 20s. Intervals of sun expected Sunday. Temperatures are steadily becoming colder. 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. 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 7:22 am and sunset is at 4:29 pm. This weekend brings a Waxing 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: Rain early⸺remaining cloudy with snow showers in the afternoon. Morning high of 51F with temperatures falling sharply to near 20. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Friday night: Considerable cloudiness. Low near 5F. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph. Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 13F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Saturday night: A few clouds from time to time. Low 8F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy skies. High 22F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Sunday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 11F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
THIS WEEK’S HIKING TIP: Recognize the signs of hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature). Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures. While hypothermia is most likely to occur at very cold temperatures, it can also occur at cool temperatures (above 40 degrees fahrenheit) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
Signs of hypothermia include:
- Exhaustion or feeling very tired.
- Fumbling hands.
- Memory Loss.
- Slurred speech.
If you or a person you know are experiencing signs of hypothermia, take action immediately.
- Get the person into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing.
- Warm the center of the person’s body—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. You can also use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
- Warm drinks can help increase body temperature, but do not give alcoholic drinks. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
- After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrap their body, including their head and neck, in a warm blanket.
- Get the person proper medical attention as soon as possible.
Hike Smart by packing the proper gear. See the DEC’s recommended packing list (PDF) and safety tips.
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.
First Day Hikes: Celebrate the new year in the outdoors with a First Day Hike at one of the many events across the state and nation. To learn more, visit the DEC’s website or visit the Catskills Visitor Center for more information on the two First Day Hikes for which we’ll be a part.
Catskills Fire Tower Challenge 2022: There’s still time to complete the Catskill Fire Tower Challenge for 2022! The challenge that began Jan. 1 runs through December 31, 2022, and 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 (at the Catskills Visitor Center. 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 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.
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 15 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 In, Carry Out: The Catskill Park is a carry in, carry 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 pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from December through March. Trails open from dawn to dusk. Email us at the Catskills Visitor Center: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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