Looking ahead to the weekend, we should have two dry days with cool winter temperatures. Expect overnight frosts to make the trails icy during most of the day on Saturday and Sunday. Read on to learn how to best prepare for current winter trail conditions.
Trail Conditions and Winter Hiking Tips: Much of the snow has melted at low elevation areas. A few inches of packed down snow will still be present as you hike up to higher Catskill elevations with up to a foot of packed snow at the highest elevations. To stay safe on ice, make sure you have a pair of microspikes. This week you should be able to leave snowshoes at home. Good layering skills are key now throughout the winter; keeping warm layers on when moving slower and lighter layers when you start to exert your body. Stay hydrated with ample water.
Roads and Trailhead Status: All marked and official hiking trails in the Catskill Park are currently open to the public.
Many seasonal roads are not maintained in the winter. Keep this list in mind if your car isn’t snow-ready:
Platte Clove Road (Indian Head Wilderness), Roaring Kill Road (Indian Head Wilderness), Russell Brook Road (Delaware Wild Forest), Mary Smith Road (Delaware Wild Forest), Ploutz Road (Dry Brook Wild Forest)
Weekend Weather Forecast (recorded for Hunter, NY): Friday will be mostly sunny with a slight chance of snow showers before 3 pm. The high is about 26° and the low is 9° with a wind chill value as low as -3° . Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high reaching 23° and a low overnight of 15°. Sunday expect mostly sunny skies with a high of 28° and a low of 17°.
Hunting Season: Regular deer and bear hunting seasons continue through the weekend ending on Sunday, December 9th. Muzzleloading and late bowhunting seasons begin on Monday, December 10th. Hunters can sign up for licenses with the DEC’s resource list of local outfitters. Hikers should plan to dress in bright colors or wear vests to stay obvious.
The Catskill Guide to Leave No Trace: Essential skills and outdoor ethics are crucial for enjoying the Catskill Park in a safe and responsible manner. Read on to discover the top two Leave No Trace considerations this week.
Know Before You Go – Planning and preparing are the keys to enjoying the outdoors. Sunsets are about 4:25 pm this weekend. In case of unexpected night hiking, keep a headlamp with you. If you’re planning to backpack, the NYSDEC has a cheat sheet of state camping regulations.
Help Keep Wildlife Wild – Fall is a sensitive time of year for all wildlife foraging here in the Catskills. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and store food properly both at home and in the backcountry. Bears are still present this time of year. You can take a bear canister for an overnight hike or hang a bear bag to keep your food and toiletries safe. Bear bags should be at least 15 feet from the trunk of a tree and the ground below.
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!
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.
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.
Winter Hiking Opportunities: Throughout the Park there are hikes coming up on January the 1st to start the New Year. Browse through the DEC’s website to read more and to sign up.
The Catskill Interpretive Center now hosts a weather station in the MesoWest Network. Check the current conditions in Mount Tremper, NY.
For More Information: Visit the Catskill Park's visitor center, the Maurice D Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center (CIC) at 5096 Route 28 in Mt Tremper, NY. The Center is open everyday from 9:30 to 4:30, and until 6:30pm on Fridays. Staff and volunteers can provide trail information and updates. The CIC's Gift Shop carries trail maps, trail guides and more for purchase. You may also shop from home at the Catskill Interpretive Center Online Gift Shop. You can call the CIC at 845-688-3369 or email them at email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Alex McClain