Weekend of January 5, 2024
The Catskills will kick off the weekend with mostly sunny skies on Friday, followed by cloudy skies and a winter storm watch on Saturday night into Sunday, with possible total snow accumulations up to 11 inches, and temps in the low to mid-30s throughout. We’ll see mainly sunny skies on Friday with a high near 34F. Friday night will be partly cloudy with a low of 23F. Saturday will see overcast skies and snow showers in the afternoon with a high of 31F. Did someone say “snow”? Saturday night has a potential winter storm storming. Expect cloudy skies and snow, with a low of 26F, and 5-8 inches of snow expected. Sunday will be cloudy with snow showers continuing with a high of 33F, and 1-3 inches of snow expected. We’ll see mostly cloudy skies early on Sunday night changing over to partly cloudy skies by the afternoon with a low of 25F. Higher elevations will be cooler.
Trail Conditions: This week’s trail conditions are sponsored by Kinship Photo. Expect snow-covered trail conditions this weekend, with both snow and ice-covered sections at higher elevations. Prepare for your hike with proper boots and ankle gaiters, trekking poles, snow-shoes and crampons. Anticipate colder temperatures at higher elevations. Pack appropriate layers and gear in case your trip goes longer than planned or an unexpected overnight occurs. Carry a trail map with you.
Sunrise is at 7:25 am and sunset is at 4:39 pm. We’ll see a Waning Crescent moon this weekend. Always bring a headlamp or flashlight with you in case your hike takes longer than planned, and never rely solely on your phone flashlight.
Gear Rental: As temps drop and winter weather is here, rest assured that you may trek safely as the Catskills Visitor Center has outdoor gear for rent, such as crampons and trekking poles.
Catskill Stewards: Established by the Catskill Center in 2018 as a response to high use in the Catskill Park, today the Catskill Stewards program runs at four high-use trailheads throughout the Catskills, Catskill fire towers, and along the Devil’s Path. Our stewards are seasonal employees who work to help visitors understand the importance of responsible recreation in the outdoors. Our stewards are trained Leave No Trace educators and certified in Wilderness First Aid.
Emergency Situations: If you get lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call 911 or the DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch, 833-NYS-RANGERS (833-697-7264).
Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace when recreating in the Catskills.
Hike Smart by packing the proper gear. See the NYS DEC’s recommended packing list (PDF) and safety tips.
WARNING: Backcountry conditions can change suddenly. All users should plan accordingly, including bringing flashlights, first-aid equipment, extra food, and clothing. Weather conditions may alter your plans; you should always be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods before entering the backcountry. Backcountry hiking trails can be rugged and rough; they are not maintained so wear proper footwear!
Travel: Plan on arriving at your destination early and have several back-up plans in place in case parking at your desired location is full.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday: A mainly sunny sky. High near 34F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 23F. Winds light and variable. Saturday: Cloudy with snow showers developing during the afternoon. High 31F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 60%. Saturday night: Watching a potential winter storm. Cloudy with snow. Low 26F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 100%. 5 to 8 inches of snow expected. Sunday: Snow during the morning will give way to lingering snow showers during the afternoon. High 33F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 80%. 1 to 3 inches of snow expected. Sunday night: Cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy after midnight. Low around 25F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
THIS WEEK’S HIKING TIP: Know what to do if you get lost while on trail. We’ve all gotten lost on a trail, right? Despite knowing a trail well, it is easy to lose track of where you are and become lost. If you do become lost, be sure to follow these tips to help keep your wits about you, and return safely to the trail, and home.
- Stop where you are. Keep calm and assess your situation.
- Try to determine your location by looking for recognizable landmarks and listen for vehicles on nearby roads.
- If you are sure you can get yourself out of the woods using a map and compass, do so, otherwise stay put.
- If you have cell service, call the NYSDEC Dispatch (1-833-697-7264) or call 911. The dispatcher will ask questions to collect information needed to help searchers locate you quickly.
- If you don’t have cell service, move to a location close by where you are visible to searchers on the ground or in the air. If you have something brightly colored, wear it or place it in a conspicuous location.
- If it appears that you will need to spend the night:
- Clear an area of snow to build a campfire for heat, light, and comfort. A fire will help searchers locate you.
- Using snow or items from your pack, build a shelter that will serve as a “cocoon” to keep you warm and sheltered from the weather. You can also use dead branches, conifer boughs and leaf litter to insulate the shelter.
Always verify that dogs are permitted on a hiking trail before departing. Most national and state parks do not allow dogs. When mapping out your hike, do research online or contact the managing agency and ask if their trails are dog-friendly. Even if dogs aren’t required by law to be on a leash, it’s a good idea to keep them leashed for their protection. When hiking, be respectful of other hikers and dogs, and don’t stray from designated trails. Make sure to keep an eye on your dog and don’t let it wander off. Between wild animals, like venomous snakes, and potentially toxic plants, keeping your dog close by your side will prevent mishaps. Learn how to practice Leave No Trace.
Peekamoose Blue Hole: Permits are no longer required to access the Peekamoose Valley Riparian Corridor. This includes day hike access to Peekamoose and Table Mountains, camping, and access to the Blue Hole and Buttermilk Falls.
NYSDEC Blue Hole information in Spanish here
Catskills Fire Tower Challenge 2024: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) 2024 Fire Tower Challenge is under way and runs through Dec 31, 2024. Hikers can earn a prize and a certificate for climbing all six 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 Center’s Catskill Fire Tower Project website and the DEC’s Fire Tower Challenge website.
Fishing Notice: Free fishing days offer residents and non-residents who are 16 and older* to fish without a freshwater fishing license or recreational marine fishing registration. (*Kids under 16 can always fish for free!) Free fishing days calendar will be posted once the 2024 schedule is released from NYSDEC.
For more information, visit NYSDEC.
Trail Register Information: (the books found inside metal boxes at the start of all hiking trails) We encourage all visitors to continue to sign in and out at trail registers. These registers 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:
- 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.
- Platte Clove Mountain Road (in the town of Hunter) is a seasonal limited use highway that is generally closed to vehicles from November 15 to April 15.
- Elka Park Road (Roaringkill Section) in the town of Hunter. Scheduled reopening will be weather permitting.
Doubletop and Graham Access: Public access to both 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..
For More Information:
- 511NY road closure map
- Ulster County Road Closures
- Catskill Mountains Facebook Group
- Catskills Trails, Hiking, Camping & Stewardship
- Catskills Trail Conditions Facebook Group
- Catskills 3500 Club Facebook homepage with updates
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. The Catskills Visitor Center hosts a weather station in the MesoWest Network – check the current weather conditions.
No Overnight Camping at Trailheads: Overnight camping is not permitted at trailheads or other roadside locations where a camping disc is not present. This includes individuals sleeping in cars, vans, and campers. Campers should seek out designated roadside campsites marked with a “camp here” disc or campgrounds. When camping, always carry out what you carry in and dispose of trash properly. Use designated bathroom facilities, pack out human and pet waste, or dig a cat hole.
Have a Back-up Plan: The Catskills is a popular destination with limited parking in most places. Well-known trails get crowded and parking spots fill up quickly and early. Have several backup plans. If you arrive at your desired location and cannot find parking, move on to backup locations until you find a place with safe, legal parking.
Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on your location, the time of day, and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers, insulating layers, and waterproof, windproof outer layers. Gaiters can help keep your lower legs and feet dry. Bring additional layers. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in.
Manage your time wisely: Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to maximize sunlight hours and always bring a headlamp. Set a turnaround time and stick to it.
To report a wildfire, call 1-833-NYS-RANGERS (1-833-697-7264) or contact a forest ranger in your area.
The information provided may not reflect current specific conditions. Contact the local Forest Ranger for more current and specific information by calling 518-897-1300 or check the list of Region 3 Forest Rangers or Region 4 Forest Rangers for direct contact information.
The Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey Catskills Visitor Center (CVC) is the official visitor center for the Catskill Park and is at 5096 Route 28 in Mt Tremper, NY. The Visitor Center building is open from 9:30 am-4 pm every day from April through November, and 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.