An important change happened this week: 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 is deciding later this month which Catskill Mountains will replace Doubletop and Graham for hikers to complete their 35 peaks. Looking ahead to this holiday weekend, day time temperatures will be in the high 30s and early 40s with a mix of snow flurries and rain on Saturday. Sunrises this weekend will be at 7:17 am, sunsets will be at 4:54 pm. Stay safe, keep alternate plans in mind, and please continue to follow New York State and CDC regulations before traveling.
Trail Conditions: A mix of ice and snow can be found on Catskills trails this weekend, with a layer of snow on top of ice in many parts of the Park. At or above 3500′ in elevation, hikers will find 3 or more inches of snow off trail, and packed down snow on trail. Some patches of ice can be found which makes it essential for hikers to have micro spikes or a different foot traction device to stay safe. Warm and dry extra layers are important to have, as well as waterproof hiking boots and trekking poles. An insulated thermos of a hot drink and hand warmers can be great extras to take on trail to ensure you and your hiking partners stay warm and comfortable.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, a slight chance of rain and snow after 4pm. Mostly cloudy with a high near 37. Friday night, rain and snow before 10pm, then snow between 10pm and 1am. Low around 34. Saturday, rain and snow showers before 10am, then rain and snow showers after 4pm. Mostly cloudy with a high near 41. New precipitation between a tenth and a quarter of an inch possible. Saturday night, a chance of snow showers with a low around 28. Sunday, mostly cloudy with a high near 38. Sunday night, mostly cloudy with a low of 25. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
Hunting Season: Big game hunting has ended 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:
–Roads that were closed or one-lane only after heavy rain at the end of December should be back to two-lanes of traffic. Stay up to date with road information by visiting 511NY: 511NY road closure map (updated daily)
– 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: Access to Graham and Doubletop Mountain has ended beginning on 1/13/21. The property owners have made the decision after many years of allowing hikers to close public access to the two mountains. They have done this to ensure the land stays wild and protected. The Catskill 3500′ Club is deciding at the end of January which 2 peaks will replace Graham and Doubletop for club members to complete their 35 peaks list. Please do not try to hike Graham or Doubletop as it will be trespassing. We respect the property owners’ decision to close access and thank them for many years of public recreation.
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.