Weekend of January 20
A mixture of rain and snow will start the weekend for the Catskills with snow Sunday. Temperatures will be in the mid 30s. Trails will be wet, muddy, with snow, especially at higher elevations. Rain can be dangerous because a rapid drop in temperature and a brisk wind that can often follow, create ripe conditions for hypothermia. Safety and preparedness are extremely important no matter your physical ability or destination. Properly preparing for winter conditions is essential for a more enjoyable and safer experience. Stay dry, dress in layers, and pack traction aids. 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 Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm. We’ll see wet, muddy, snowy, and icy conditions depending on the elevation of your hike. Higher elevations will have snow and ice. Expect rain and snow with temperatures in the 30s. Be sure to stick to trails and walk directly through mud puddles to reduce damaging 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 help avoid slipping.
Sunrise is at 7:19 am and sunset is at 4:56 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: Cloudy with showers of rain and wet snow in the morning. High 41F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Friday night: Considerable cloudiness. A few flurries or snow showers possible. Low 28F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly to mostly cloudy. High 36F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 23F. Winds light and variable. Sunday: Cloudy. Snow likely in the afternoon. High 37F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 70% with accumulations less than one inch. Sunday night: Watching a potential winter storm. Snow in the evening will mix with rain at times overnight. Low 31F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 100% with 1 to 3 inches of snow expected.
THIS WEEK’S HIKING TIP: Bring safety items on your hike. If you are hiking an easy, well-maintained trail that sees a lot of foot traffic, you may not be as worried about safety. No matter what you anticipate your hike to be like, you should include a firestarter, flashlight, and whistle in your safety kit so you are prepared for any situation. A fire can signal for help and keep you warm, a whistle calls for help, and a flashlight will guide you in the dark.
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: There is 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 NYSDEC 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 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 of 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 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: 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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