In a very wintry week, additional snowfall in the Catskills Region brought 2” to 5” of snow across the Park on Tuesday on top of the 1’ to 2′ feet from the week before. Some very cold overnight temperatures, especially the next two days, Thursday and Friday, will harden the snow and likely bring more ice to the trails. Don’t forget your snowshoes and extras of warm layers, including for head, hands, and feet!
Trail Conditions: With current winter conditions on trails this weekend, snow will be very deep in places, not all trails will be broken by other hikers. Microspikes are crucial to bring in addition to snowshoes for any hikes this weekend for patches of ice. Prepare for the possibility that not all trailhead parking areas in the Catskills will be plowed and plan alternate hikes in case a parking area is not yet plowed. Microspikes stretch over hiking boots for traction on ice, while snowshoes go on hiking boots to stay above (not sink into) heavy snow. Both tools ensure hiker safety and keep trails in good, smooth condition for others. Hand warmers and a thermos of a warm beverage are both great extras for winter hiking this weekend.
Weekend Weather (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, mostly cloudy, with a high near 24. Friday night, mostly cloudy with a low around 8. Saturday, a slight chance of snow after 1pm, mostly cloudy with a high near 26. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Saturday night, snow likely, cloudy with a low around 16. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Sunday night, mostly cloudy with a low around 12. Monday for President’s Day, partly sunny with a high near 28. Monday night, a chance of snow, mostly cloudy with a low around 13. (Source: National Weather Service)
New Trail up Red Hill Fire Tower: The DEC announced this week the official opening of their wonderful new trail to Red Hill Fire Tower in the Town of Denning as a collaboration between the DEP and the DEC, and built by Tahawus Trails. The trail is blue-blazed and is 2 miles one-way from the new parking area on Denning Road. The new parking area offers 10 parking spaces and increases ease of access to the Red Hill Fire Tower for hikers. Learn more from the official DEC press release here.
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)
Hunting Season: 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.
DEC Announces the opening of Alder Lake through the winter months: The gate at Alder Lake has been opened to allow access to the larger, upper parking area. The road leading to the parking area will be maintained on a trial basis through the remaining early winter months of 2021. Visitors still must use good judgment, especially after fresh snowfall. Visitors are encouraged to know the capabilities of their vehicle during the wintertime and to bring a shovel in case it snows during their hike.
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.
*511NY road closure map (updated daily)
*Catskills Trail Conditions Facebook Group (updated regularly by locals and visitors to the area)
*Catskills 3500′ Club Facebook homepage with updates
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, snowshoes, 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.
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.