Three days of sun are currently forecast for this weekend (Friday through Sunday). Hikers and other outdoor recreationists in the Catskills should see ideal conditions for being outside! The tops of the mountains got a dusting of snow and some cold temperatures in the past week, bringing a little bit of winter to the highest elevations. Even with temperatures in the 60s and 70s this weekend, it’s still a good idea for hikers to locate their micro spikes or other traction devices and keep them in their backpacks. Don’t forget that hunting season is happening in New York. The more visible you and your pets can be, the safer it is for everyone. Orange hats, vests, and other clothing are all good options to stay seen in the outdoors.
Please continue to follow recommendations on safety and social distancing from New York State and the CDC. Use your best judgement when traveling and keep alternate plans in mind if you’re visiting a trailhead that happens to be very busy.
Trail Conditions: The recent snow and cold temperatures brought some ice to the trails in the high peaks of the Catskills, and with warmer temperatures this weekend, hikers should expect melting snow, and trails that are more slippery. Thinking in terms of winter footwear (hiking boots, gaiters, micro spikes or another foot traction device) is a good idea, both for this weekend and for upcoming weekends. There were a couple of days recently with some very high winds, which means hikers should expect trees and branches to be down on many of the trails. Sunsets this weekend will be at about 4:47pm, and sunrises will be at 6:33am.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, sunny with a high near 69. Southwest wind 5 to 7 mph. Friday night, mostly clear with a low around 46. Saturday, sunny with a high near 69. Light wind. Saturday night, mostly clear with a low around 44. Sunday, sunny with a high near 70. Sunday night, mostly clear with a low around 45. (Source: National Weather Service, NOAA)
Hunting Season: Hunting for Deer and many other animals is currently open with some restrictions. For hikers, be smart and prepared for hunting season by wearing bright colors such as orange, or a bright blue color. 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
Fall Foliage Report: The Catskills are well past peak at this point. The Hudson Valley region still has some color albeit late in the season. Prepare for fall with the guide from the Catskills Visitor Center all about scenic places to view the foliage: https://catskillsvisitorcenter.org/fall-foliage/
I Love NY keeps track of the colors changing across the state of New York on their website each year.
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:
- Seasonal Roads across the Catskills will not be maintained beginning November 1st. This includes access to Platte Clove via Platte Clove Rd., be aware that in case of snow or ice the road from east to west is not safe for car travel.
- Kaaterskill Falls trail via Route 23a is closed. Laurel House Trail and the trails above the falls have been reopened.
- The building of the Catskills Visitor Center in Mt. Tremper, NY is currently closed, however 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.
- 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 Fall:
– Trails can get more slick and slippery in the fall because of leaves on the ground. Good traction shoes and trekking poles help with stability.
– It usually rains more in the fall than in the summertime, so there tends to be a lot more mud on trails. 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 on trails instead of walking around it
– 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 the Catskill 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.