A nor’easter winter storm that came through New York on Wednesday night has brought two feet or more of snow to the Catskills Region! Stay safe and continue to recreate locally. With cold temperatures for the next few days, expect that snow will freeze overnight. Snowshoes, micro spikes, gaiters to keep snow from getting in hiking boots, and warm gear are highly recommended for any hikes this weekend. While hiking in the winter is beautiful, it can present more dangers than during other times of year, especially in the mountains. Consider practicing snowshoeing and testing gear in local parks or on flat easy trails before attempting a more difficult hike.
Trail Conditions: Snow will be found all throughout the region, from low elevations all the way up to the highest elevations. With over 2 feet of snow, there are a couple of things to be aware of if you’re traveling or looking to go outdoors. First, many trailhead parking areas will not be plowed right away, and it’s important for hikers to turn around and not park illegally if a trailhead is not cleared. Second, wearing snowshoes and avoiding post-holing is recommended as it keeps the trails in safe and walking-friendly condition for the next hikers. Sunrises this weekend will be at 7:15am, sunsets will be at 4:30pm.
Information about Snowshoes and Winter Layering:
*A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Snowshoes, a helpful article from Parks & Trails New York.
*A great video from 2017 on the Leave No Trace website talks about Preventing the Posthole and why it’s important (featuring Catskill Center’s own Andy Mossey!)
*A video all about creating your own layering system in cold weather from the Catskill Center
Where can I rent snowshoes? To name just a few places:
-Jimmy’s Belleayre & Ski Shop in Highmount, NY
-Hunter Mountain Outfitters in Tannersville, NY
-Windham Mountain Outfitters in Windham, NY
-Rock & Snow in New Paltz, NY
-Some libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System (must have a library card, call to confirm availability)
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, mostly sunny with a high near 32. North wind around 7 mph. Friday night, mostly clear with a low around 8. Northwest wind 3 to 7 mph. Saturday, mostly sunny with a high near 33. Saturday night, mostly cloudy with a low around 20. Sunday, mostly cloudy with a high near 38. Sunday night, mostly cloudy with a low around 25. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
Hunting Season: Hunting for deer and bear is closed for the 2020 season. For hikers, stay smart and prepared by wearing bright colors such as orange, or a bright blue color throughout the winter. 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.