Weekend of December 2ND
Expect cloudy conditions and rain this weekend in the Catskills with temperatures in the low-to-mid 40s. Trails will be soggy in most areas. A mostly sunny start on Friday will turn to cloudy skies for the rest of the weekend with rain expected Friday night into Saturday. Higher elevations have cooler temperatures and tend to be more prone to snow. 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.
Trail Conditions: This week’s Trail Conditions are brought to you by Woodstock Land Conservancy. We’ll see a mostly cloudy weekend for the Catskills with temperatures in the low-to-mid 40s with rain expected Friday night into Saturday. Temperatures are becoming colder, especially at night. 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, as well. 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 please 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.
Sunrise is at 7:06 am and sunset is at 4:26 pm. This weekend brings a Waxing Gibbous 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: Mostly sunny skies. High 43F. Winds SSW at 5-10 mph. Friday night: Mostly cloudy with some showers late. Low 33F. Winds SSW at 5-10 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Saturday: Occasional rain. High near 50F. Winds SW at 10-15 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch. Saturday night: A few clouds. Low 29F. Winds WNW at 10-15 mph. Sunday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 39F. Winds WNW at 5-10 mph. Sunday night: Mostly clear skies. Low 26F. Winds light and variable.
REGULAR FIREARMS SEASON FOR DEER AND BEAR IS UNDER WAY. Click here for more details. From DEC commissioner Basil Seggos: “With most public land across New York State open to multiple forms of recreation, from hiking and nature photography to hunting and trapping, visitors should be cautious, courteous, and responsible when sharing the woods to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.” “DEC encourages all visitors to review the safety guidelines for hunting and recreating in the woods before going afield and respectfully sharing the outdoors with others.”
THIS WEEK’S HIKING TIP: Eat and drink frequently.
- Dehydration hastens the onset of hypothermia. Do not underestimate the amount of food that you’ll need. Snowshoeing for example, burns about 600 calories an hour and winter backpacking requires 4,000-5,000 calories a day.
Additional Hiking Tips for Cold Weather:
- For safety, do not hike alone in winter. The potential consequences are simply too high.
- Daylight hours are short in the winter and the sun goes down quickly. Begin your trip early in the day and be prepared with a headlamp and extra batteries. Lithium batteries are more reliable in cold weather than alkaline ones.
- Leave a trip itinerary with a friend who knows who to call if you are late in returning.
- 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.
- Be prepared to keep warm with nothing more than the equipment you can carry. Dress in layers and assess whether it is prudent to bring along extra clothing or an emergency shelter in your pack.
- 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 in your footwear to prevent slipping. Microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes are the three footwear options for winter hiking, depending on the conditions.
Catskills Fire Tower Challenge 2022: the DEC has announced the return of the Catskill Fire Tower Challenge for 2022! Starting on January 1st, 2022, and going through December 31st, 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: Firearms hunting season opened November 19, 2022. https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/huntguide.pdf Remember that all hunters and those who accompany hunters are now required to wear fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink. Click here for more information.
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.
- From April 1 to October 15, trout fishing is permitted for harvesting with a valid fishing license. Three fish are allowed per day, with one over 12″.
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.
Temporary Closures: The following destinations are closed in the Catskills: Ashokan Quarry Trail- Closed for hunting season from November 19- December 11, 2022.
- 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 Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 public access to the two peaks, Doubletop and Graham Mountain 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: Permits are not required at this time. 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 – September 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. The CVC does require masks upon entry to the building and please remember to socially distance when visiting the trails by giving other visitors 6 feet minimum distance and wearing a mask when you meet others.
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