Ice, snow, and mud: the Catskills have it all right now as we usher in the first full week of spring! Warm temperatures and predicted rain over the coming weekend will speed up melting. Streams will be running higher than normal across the region. Stay prepared with winter gear, layers, and waterproof footwear.
Trail Conditions: Plan for ice and snowpack above 2500′ feet in elevation, and a mixture of ice and mud below 2500′ feet this weekend. Streams will be running higher than normal due to rain and warming temperatures, be alert and aware at a stream crossing and be prepared to turn around if it presents any danger. Micro spikes are still important to have with you for sections of ice on trails, especially at higher elevations. Snowshoes won’t be needed for all hiking this weekend, however they will come in very useful on and close to mountain summits where there is still up to a foot of snow.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, occasional showers and a possible thunderstorm before 2pm, then a chance of showers. High near 71. Breezy, with a south wind 9 to 14 mph increasing to 16 to 21 mph in the afternoon. Some winds could gust up to 37 mph. Chance of rain on Friday 90%. Saturday, mostly sunny with a high near 58. Sunday, rain likely, mainly before 8am. Cloudy with a high near 54. Chance of rain Sunday 70%. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
Upcoming Virtual Event: On Thursday, March 25th the Catskills Visitor Center is hosting a public online talk from 7-8pm all about the history of the Catskill Park and the reprinting of the book Catskill Park: Inside the Blue Line. Join Catskills experts for a great virtual discussion (no pre-registration required): learn more here.
Catskill Center is Hiring: If you’re passionate about protecting the Catskills, take a look at the Catskill Center’s jobs page. We’re currently hiring for both seasonal and full-time positions (Catskill Stewards and more): https://catskillcenter.org/opportunities
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 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.
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)
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 Spring:
– Expect a mixture of conditions, from snow, to ice, and mud in early spring. Staying prepared with snow and ice foot traction devices is important, as well as having waterproof shoes for walking through wet, muddy parts of the trail. Trekking poles are useful any time of year, but are also great in spring for traction and stability. Learn more about mud season conditions on the Leave No Trace website here.
– Do your best to follow Leave No Trace practices by walking through the midline of mud and snow on trails instead of walking around these areas.
-Streams are often running higher in the spring due to rain and melting snowpack. Bear this in mind and always be prepared to turn around if a stream is high and crossing could be dangerous.
– Temperatures are warming up, and sunsets are later than in the winter months. Whenever you’ll be in the mountains, expect variable weather. It’s a good idea to continue to pack a clothing layering system, this includes noncotton layers, warm hat and gloves, and a waterproof/windproof outer layer that’s easy to pack, and 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 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.