On December 25th the Catskills received a deluge of over 6 inches in rain. This excess of rainfall is having a lasting effect on roadways across the Catskills and may interrupt travel plans to trailheads and other destinations, read on to find out specifics. Looking ahead to this weekend, a sunny few days is queued up. Don’t let the mild and sunny weather fool you however, wintry conditions of ice, snow, and wet conditions such as big puddles and mud are to be expected throughout the trails. Stay safe, consider alternate plans, and please continue to follow New York State and CDC regulations before traveling.
Trail Conditions: Be aware of frost and ice on trails across the region, especially in the early mornings after cold temperatures refreeze tracked out trails. Summits of all Catskill Mountains are currently covered with a few inches of snow and more importantly thick bulletproof ice. Prepare for your hike with mandatory traction devices, extra warm gear, and additional winter considerations such as a hot drink in a thermos are highly recommended.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, sunny, with a high near 39. North wind 6 to 8 mph. Friday night, partly cloudy, with a low around 17. North wind 7 to 10 mph. Saturday, mostly sunny, with a high near 36. North wind 9 to 13 mph. Saturday night, partly cloudy, with a low around 19. Sunday, sunny, with a high near 38. Sunday night, partly cloudy, with a low around 17. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
Hunting Season: Big game hunting has concluded for deer and bear. However, some small game hunting is still permitted in the Catskills region through February. For a full summary of the 2020-2021 hunting season’s start and end dates, please visit the NYSDEC’s website here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/huntsummary2020.pdf
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. It is suggested to choose one person in your group to fill in the register for everyone, consider bringing your own pen or pencil, and bring hand sanitizer to use before and after touching the trail register.
Temporary Closures: The following destinations are closed in the Catskills. For any information or clarification, please feel free to call (845) 688-3369 or email email@example.com:
–After severely heavy rain over Christmas last week, some roads in the Park are now one-lane only in sections (Route 214 and Route 23), and some have been temporarily closed to repair damage (Route 42). For the most updated information on road closures and reopening’s we recommend these resources:
*511NY road closure map (updated daily)
*Catskills Trail Conditions Facebook Group (updated regularly by locals and visitors to the area)
*December 2020 Flood Resources on the Catskill Center’s Blog
*Catskills 3500′ Club Facebook homepage with updates
*Upstate NY Christmas Flood of 2020 Facebook Group
– The building of the Catskills Visitor Center in Mt. Tremper, NY is currently closed, however a window service on the side porch is available for visitor information from 10-3, every day except Wednesday. Staff is answering phone calls at 845-688-3369. Visitor Center trails are open.
– Seasonal access roads across the Catskills are now closed and unmaintained for the winter months.
– DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more (link to: the DEC’s website). As of June 11, the DEC resumed issuing permits for groups of fewer than 10 people who would like to stay for more than three nights at one location on state lands. DEC is also temporarily restricting lean-to use to members of a single household at a time.
Peekamoose Blue Hole: No permits are required at this time. DEC permits are required to visit this site on weekends and holidays from May 15 – September 13. Permits are available as late as one day in advance, but more no more than seven days in advance. Permits can be acquired from the Reserve America website at: https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com
Hiking Tips to Prepare for Winter:
– Trails can get more slick, slippery and unpredictable during the winter months due to ice, snow, and wet surfaces. Bring traction devices for your feet, and trekking poles for your hands to aid in safe travel.
– Due to snow, think about bringing things like waterproof hiking boots, gaiters, and trekking poles. Follow best Leave No Trace practices by walking through the midline of mud and snow on trails instead of walking around these areas.
– Temperatures are getting lower, especially overnight temperatures. Bringing a full clothing layering system with you in your pack is essential for day hikes or overnight hikes. This includes noncotton layers, warm hat and gloves, and a “puffy” – an insulated jacket that’s easy to take on and off throughout your hike.
As always, bring a mask, even on the trails. While hiking with the people you live with, wearing a mask is not mandatory. However, while on summits, trailheads, points of interest, and even passing others please wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Especially in areas such as parking lots and trailheads, there has been a reduction in people actively wearing masks. The continued use of masks in these areas is incredibly important for the general the health and safety of all in the Catskills.
Graham and Doubletop Mountain Access: From theCatskill 3500 Club. “IMPORTANT NEWS ON DOUBLETOP AND GRAHAM – Both mountains will be closed to all hikers from November 8th to December 26th for private use during hunting season. For permission to hike on Graham or Doubletop, call Bill, the caretaker, at his office number: (845) 586-4099. He will be responding during Monday-Friday business hours. This is a landline, so texts will not work. He will no longer be replying to the cell number originally listed, even if it is a text. Follow the guidance for your region and only ask for permission to hike if travel is appropriate. Please be respectful of these protocols so that we do not lose access to these mountains.”
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 to decrease your chance of exposure to COVID-19.
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!
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 currently closed, however trails remain open. Please remember to socially distance when visiting the CVC’s trails by giving other visitors 6 feet minimum distance and wearing a mask when you meet others.