It’s spring at lower elevations, where you’ll find mud and new, sensitive plant life beginning to come in. Don’t forget that there is still some leftover ice on many Catskills peaks. Bring microspikes or another foot traction device to be safe for planned hikes above 3000’ feet. Saturday looks like a sunny day around the region. Saturday night into Sunday rain is likely, which will bring some additional mud to the trails.
Trail Conditions: Some ice remains on trails above around 3000’ feet in elevation. At lower elevations, mud will make trails more slick and slippery, be careful especially with descending on wet trails. Waterproof shoes, gaiters, and trekking poles are highly recommended for springtime hiking. Staying on trail and walking down the center of a trail can go a long way to prevent harmful erosion of trails, as well as protecting sensitive plants and flora that are just off trail.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, sunny through mid-morning, then becoming cloudy, high near 67. Friday night, mostly cloudy with a low of 45, light wind. Saturday, partly sunny with a high near 71. Saturday night, a chance of showers after 3am, mostly cloudy with a low around 51. Sunday, showers likely, mainly before 9am, mostly cloudy with a high near 66. Chance of rain is 70%. Sunday night, showers likely before 9pm. Mostly cloudy with a low around 43. 70% chance of rain. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
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:
- The Molly Smith trailhead and parking area (located on Route 23A in Hunter, NY) is closed for the 2021 season to protect visitor safety. From the NYSDEC: Visitors may access Kaaterskill Falls by parking at the Laurel-House Rd, Schutt Rd, or South Lake parking areas. Directions to these lots can be found here: https://on.ny.gov/3fx46OD.
- 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.
Doubletop and Graham Access: As of Wednesday, January 13th public access to the two peaks Doubletop and Graham Mountain has ended. We at 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 decided on January 31st 2021 that starting on “March 22nd (the first day of spring), the Club tally list will consist of 33 peaks versus the current 35. The four winter climb requirement will remain as is. With Doubletop and Graham permanently closed to public access, we concluded that we will not continue with the current substitutions of South Doubletop and Millbrook Ridge after 3/21. That decision to not add in two other peaks may surprise some of you, but, after much discussion, the vote was unanimous.” (Source: the Catskill 3500′ Club website)
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 Spring:
– Expect a mixture of conditions, from snow, to ice, and mud in early spring. Staying prepared with snow and ice foot traction devices is important, as well as having waterproof shoes for walking through wet, muddy parts of the trail. Trekking poles are useful any time of year, but are also great in spring for traction and stability. Learn more about mud season conditions on the Leave No Trace website here.
– Do your best to follow Leave No Trace practices by walking through the midline of mud and snow on trails instead of walking around these areas.
-Streams are often running higher in the spring due to rain and melting snowpack. Bear this in mind and always be prepared to turn around if a stream is high and crossing could be dangerous.
– Temperatures are warming up, and sunsets are later than in the winter months. Whenever you’ll be in the mountains, expect variable weather. It’s a good idea to continue to pack a clothing layering system, this includes noncotton layers, warm hat and gloves, and a waterproof/windproof outer layer that’s easy to pack, and to take on and off throughout your hike.
– Bears come out of hibernation in the spring. Hikers and residents of the Catskills should do everything they can to prevent human and bear conflicts. More information can be found here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6995.html (link goes to the DEC’s website)
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.
Recreate Responsibly: An informative 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.