Weekend of November 17, 2023
The Catskills will see partly cloudy skies and rain this weekend with temperatures ranging from the low 40s to 61F. We’ll see cloudy skies on Friday with a chance of rain showers for the afternoon and a high of 61F. Cloudy skies continue overnight on Friday with rain likely and a low of 43F. Saturday will see morning showers followed by partly cloudy skies by the afternoon with a high of 46F but temps fall as the day progresses to near 35F. Expect mostly clear skies into Saturday night with a low of 30F. We’ll see sun and clouds mixed on Sunday with a high of 44F. Sunday night will see a few passing clouds with a low of 26F. Higher elevations will be cooler.
Trail Conditions: This week’s trail conditions are sponsored by Camp Catskill. Expect muddy trail conditions this weekend, especially in low-lying areas. Prepare for your hike with proper boots and ankle gaiters and walk directly through mud puddles to prevent trail widening and damage to fragile plants. Fallen leaves can obscure slippery surfaces, like rocks, and are very slippery themselves when wet. 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 6:49 am and sunset is at 4:34 pm. We’ll see a Waxing 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: Partly cloudy skies during the morning hours will become overcast in the afternoon. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 61F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Cloudy. Some light rain is likely. Low 43F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Saturday: Rain showers in the morning, then sunny in the afternoon. Morning high of 46F with temps falling to near 35. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Saturday night: A mostly clear sky. Low around 30F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High 44F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Sunday night: A few clouds. Low 26F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.
THIS WEEK’S HIKING TIP: Keep your water bottle warm.
Staying hydrated in cooler temps is just as important as it is in the summer. Take extra precautions to keep your water from freezing.
- A foam sleeve (like a koozie) will increase the time it takes water to freeze in a bottle. An active hand warmer inside the insulative sleeve can be used on more frigid days.
- Water tends to freeze at the top of a water bottle, so carry the bottle cap down to prevent the opening from freezing first. Ensure the bottle properly seals to prevent leaks.
- Start your hike with warm water instead of cold tap water to slow down the freezing process.
- Nothing warms your body (or your spirits) like warm liquid on the trail or by a campfire. Vacuum-sealed water bottles and thermoses can help keep warm drinks steamy for hours, and they can also be used as standard water bottles.
- Sip water often to stay hydrated and also to check the state of your water. Is it starting to freeze?
- Do you hike with a hydration reservoir? Manufacturers make special hose, bite valve, and reservoir sleeves to slow down the water from freezing, but in many cases, reservoirs will freeze faster than traditional water bottles.
- Store soft-sided flasks or slim water bottles on the inside of your jacket. Be sure it is properly sealed to prevent leaks.
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.
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
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 2023: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) 2023 Fire Tower Challenge is under way and runs through Dec 31, 2023. 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 2024 schedule is released from NYSDEC.
For more information, visit NYSDEC.
Hunting: Regular (rifle) season for deer hunting begins on November 16 and runs through December 8. For more information about hunting season in the Catskills, 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.
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..
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.