The recent rain has made a slippery mess of much of the trails across the Catskills. With the season’s first snow on Friday, there is also a couple of inches at the highest elevations. Bring micro spikes with you this weekend to be safe. Be well prepared for slippery conditions and watch out for tricks, treats, and ghouls this Halloween weekend. Mud, wet leaves and pine needles are going to transform the trails to a very slick and spooooky condition. 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: Snow may cap some of the Catskill peaks this Friday. With snow and some ice (temperatures below freezing throughout the weekend), it’s a good idea to have foot traction devices. Be prepared for cold and snowy conditions if you are planning on tagging a summit. Be prepared for ice, some puddles, mud, and especially slippery leaves and pine needles on the trails and cliff-sides. As always, the better prepared a hiker can be for these conditions (think gaiters, boots, and even trekking poles), the better their experience will be while hiking in the Catskills. Fall conditions are in full swing albeit on their way out; cooler temps, slippery leaves and pine needles will present trail hazards.
Weekend Weather Forecast (reporting for Mt. Tremper, NY): Friday, rain and snow before noon, then a chance of rain between noon and 2pm. High near 41. North wind 8 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Friday night, mostly clear, with a low around 19. Northwest wind around 6 mph becoming calm after midnight. Saturday, sunny, with a high near 43. Calm wind. Saturday night, partly cloudy, with a low around 29. Sunday, a chance of showers after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 53. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Sunday night, a chance of rain showers before 11pm, then a chance of rain and snow showers between 11pm and 5am, then a chance of snow showers after 5am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Chance of precipitation is 40%. (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 close beginning November 1st. This includes access to Platte Clove via Platte Clove Rd.
- 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 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.
- 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 theCatskill 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.