Snowy conditions on Catskill summits have the mountains feeling and looking like winter has made its first appearance this season. If you plan to hike this weekend do so with the planning of winter conditions. While hiking in the winter is beautiful, the risks and dangers are much higher during this time of year. Please continue to follow recommendations on safety and social distancing from New York State and the CDC. Use your best judgment when traveling and keep alternate plans in mind if you’re visiting a trailhead that happens to be very busy.
Trail Conditions: Be aware of frost and ice on trails across the region, especially in the early mornings. Summits of all Catskill Mountains are currently covered with a few inches of snow. Prepare for your hike with traction devices, extra warm gear, and be sure to bring rain layers as precipitation is in the forecast. Please keep in mind that fall time is hunting season in New York. Wear brightly colored clothing (orange, or bright blues) so no one thinks you, or your pet is a deer or bear.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, mostly sunny, with a high near 49. Southwest wind 5 to 7 mph. Friday night, mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Saturday, a chance of showers after 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 48. Light southeast wind. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Saturday night, showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 40. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Sunday, a chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Sunday night, a chance of rain and snow showers between 1am and 4am, then a chance of snow showers after 4am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Chance of precipitation is 30%. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
- Winter Preparedness Class: Catskill 3500 Club, 12.11.20, 5:00pm in Livingston Manor. The class is in person only. For details, and to register, send email to past President Tom Rankin, email@example.com. Masks must be worn at all times. Hand sanitizer will be available.
Hunting Season: Hunting for deer and many other animals is currently open including regular rifle season. For hikers, be smart and prepared for hunting season by wearing bright colors such as orange, or a bright blue color. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org:
– 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.