Weekend of January 13
The Catskills will see periods of rain showers Friday, then intervals of clouds and sun for the remainder of the weekend. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-upper 30s. Trails will be muddy. A muddy trail forces you to slow down and pay attention to each step. Expect to hike slower than normal and plan a shorter hike than you would when trails are dry. Pack traction aids such as microspikes or crampons. Microspikes, snowshoes, and trekking poles are available for sale or rental at the Catskills Visitor Center.
Trail Conditions: This week’s trail conditions are sponsored by Vly Mountain Spring Water, Inc. We’ll see muddy, snowy, and icy conditions depending on the elevation of your hike. Higher elevations will have snow and ice. Expect rain then sun and clouds mixed with temperatures near 40F. 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. Know your skill level and physical capabilities; choose trails within your or your group’s ability. Slow down when you need to. Especially in muddy conditions, go slow and take smaller steps to try to avoid slipping.
Sunrise is at 7:23 am and sunset is at 4:48 pm. This weekend brings a Waning 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 cloudy. Periods of rain early. Morning high of 47F with temperatures falling to near freezing. SSW winds shifting to WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Friday night: Mostly cloudy skies early will become partly cloudy late. Low 22F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 31F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Mostly clear skies. Low around 20F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High 36F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Sunday night: Clear skies. Low 22F. Winds light and variable.
THIS WEEK’S HIKING TIP: Be aware of erosion. When the ground is wet and muddy, it can be tempting to move to the side of the trail to avoid walking through the mud. If too many hikers start making that choice, the soil on the sides of the trail will become damaged and unable to grow plants. Eventually, the empty space in the area expands, and the natural foliage shrinks. Creating social trails creates more of an unwanted carbon footprint. Be sure to walk directly through mud sections to minimize your impact.
Tips on cleaning muddy hiking boots or shoes after a hike:
- Take out your laces (and insoles if applicable). These should be washed separately. Insoles can be deodorized as needed, and laces can be cleaned with warm water and a small amount of dish soap.
- Clean away any dried dirt, rocks, or other debris. Take some time to remove anything that can be removed while your footwear is dry. Clean out the outsoles to make sure your shoes maintain their grip.
- Scrub the outside of your footwear. You can use saddle soap (for leather), specialized boot or shoe soap, or dish soap along with plenty of water. Use a small brush to clean the outer areas.
- With a damp cloth, clean away any soap that might be left on your footwear.
- Apply any waterproofing you may want. It’s ideal to do this while your footwear is still damp.
- Start the drying process. Place your footwear in a dry place where the sun doesn’t shine directly. You can also add some baking soda if you’d like to help speed up the process.
Hike Smart by packing the proper gear. See the NYS DEC’s recommended packing list (PDF) and safety tips.
Catskills Fire Tower Challenge 2023: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) 2023 Fire Tower Challenge is under way and runs through December 31, 2023. Hikers can earn a prize and a certificate for climbing 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). Stewardship of the fire towers is a partnership with the Catskill 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.
Trail Register Information: (the books found inside metal boxes at the start of all hiking trails): The NYSDECencourages 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 Nov 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: Public access to the two peaks has 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 club membership..
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 with 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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