Winter has finally arrived! With a fairly heavy snowfall over most of the Catskills this past week, you can expect full winter conditions on the trails. The skies are expected to be clear but temperatures will still be quite cold and trails are snowy. Whenever you head out be sure and pack warm layers as well as snowshoes or cross country skis to help protect the trails and yourself.
This week’s Trail Conditions: Expect trails this weekend to have lots of snow and ice. With a pretty heavy snowfall earlier in the week, many Catskill trails are seeing at least 10-12” of snow. Be sure to bring snowshoes or skis with you. Without these, you run the risk of post-holing which can cause serious bodily harm as well as make the trail dangerous for others. Some areas of the trail may still see icy patches where snow has been packed down or windswept. It is a good idea to carry microspikes or other traction aids in your pack.
Sunrise is at 7:20 am and sunset at 4:54 pm. Always remember to bring a headlamp or flashlight when you head out and never rely solely on phone flashlights, especially during cold temperatures. Winter months can make the trails harder to find, so always know where you’re headed, and don’t forget to bring a map. You can always expect colder temperatures as well as more snow and ice accumulation at higher elevations.
Weekend Weather Forcast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Thursday: A slight chance of snow before 9am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a temperature falling to around 18 by 5pm. Northwest wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 1. Wind chill values as low as -9. Northwest wind 6 to 8 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high near 18. Wind chill values as low as -10. North wind 3 to 6 mph. Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 1. Light north wind. Saturday: A slight chance of snow showers before 1pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 24. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 9. Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 31. Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10. (Source: National Weather Service.gov)
This weekend: The Catskill 3500 Club is hosting their Winter Weekend. They are offering sixteen guided hikes, a perfect way to get out on the trails and gain some winter experience. Head over to the Catskill 3500 website to register for a hike. Don’t forget to call ahead for a complete gear list of what to bring if you are unsure.
Catskills Fire Tower Challenge 2022: the DEC has announced the return of the Catskill Fire Tower Challenge for 2022! Starting on January 1st, 2022, and going through December 31st, 2022, hikers can earn a prize and a certificate for completing all six of the fire towers in the Catskill Park: Overlook, Red Hill, Balsam Lake, Mount Tremper, Hunter, and the Upper Esopus. Learn more by visiting the Catskill Fire Tower Project website and the DEC’s Fire Tower Challenge website.
Catskills Visitor Center (CVC): in Mt. Tremper, NY is open from 9:30-4:00 pm every day except Tuesday including newly installed exhibits, maps, information, and a gift shop. A fire tower is located on the property as well as nature trails. Call the Visitor Center at 845-688-3369 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visitor Center trails are open from dawn to dusk.
Hunting Season Notices: Regular hunting season has ended, however, some small game is still in season. Please review the DEC hunting season map for specific information.
Fishing Season Notices:
- From October 16th to March 31st, trout fishing is permitted for catch and release only. Valid fishing licenses and artificial lures are required.
- From April 1st to October 15th, trout fishing is permitted for harvesting with a valid fishing license. Three fish are allowed per day, with one over 12″.
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.
Seasonal Roads and Trailhead Closures: The following are seasonal roads and are not maintained during winter months and are generally closed from November to April 15th of each year:
- Platte Clove Road – Indian Head Wilderness (Town of Hunter) – closed November 1st to April 15th
- Roaring Kill Road – Indian Head Wilderness (Town of Hunter)
- Big Hollow Road – Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness (Town of Windham)
- Russell Brook Road – Delaware Wild Forest (Town of Colchester)
- Mary Smith Road – Delaware Wild Forest (Town of Colchester)
- Ploutz Road – Dry Brook Wild Forest (Town of Middletown)
- Molly Smith Trailhead on Route 23A – Kaaterskill Wild Forest (Town of Hunter)
DEC recommends visitors access Kaaterskill Falls by parking at the Laurel-House Road, Schutt Road, or South Lake parking areas.
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:
– 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
- Ulster County Road Closures
Doubletop and Graham Access: As of Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 public access to the two peaks, Doubletop and Graham Mountain 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 has decided that the remaining 33 peaks will make up the collection of Catskill mountains to be hiked for membership of the club.
Winter Hiking Tips:
– Trekking poles, boots, and traction devices are useful for traction and stability. Gaiters keep dirt, snow, and ticks out of your boots. Finish each hike or excursion outdoors with a thorough tick check if the temperature is above 32 degrees F.
– Winter brings with it slick and hard to see trails. Make sure to take your time on these trails to avoid personal injury. Be sure to plan your route and bring a map with you.
– Keep a close eye and ear to encroaching weather and morning frost and prepare by bringing rain gear and warm layers on all hikes. Consider bringing a water filter on longer hikes. Remember that temperatures will be significantly colder with greater snow/ice accumulation at higher elevations.
– Temperatures are frequently below freezing overnight. Bringing a full clothing layering system with you in your pack is essential for day hikes and overnight hikes. This includes non-cotton layers, a warm hat, gloves, and a “puffy” – an insulated jacket that’s easy to take on and off throughout your hike. Be sure and try to stay as dry as possible, wet layers can bring down your temperature. Changing into dry layers during your hike can help keep you warm.
– For more cold weather hiking tips as well as suggestions of places to rent or purchase foot traction devices as well as snowshoes, please visit the Catskills Visitor Center’s website here.
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! Note that most trails will not have any garbage receptacles. Always be prepared to take any garbage back in your car with you.
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 open from 9:30 am-4:00 pm Trails open from dawn to dusk. The CVC does require masks upon entry to the building and please remember to socially distance when visiting the trails by giving other visitors 6 feet minimum distance and wearing a mask when you meet others.
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