The first weekend of 2019 is a great time to reward yourself with a hike! A slight chance of rain on Saturday means some ice, mud, and high-flowing streams.
Trail Conditions and Tips: After a couple of days with temperatures above freezing, a lot of the heavier snow has melted in the Park. Slick mud and moisture are on trails, and ice will be found on all trails at elevation. Check maps before heading out to see if any stream crossings are on your expected route! Streams are running high in the Park with additional rain accumulation in the last two weeks. Trekking poles and sturdy shoes can be helpful in getting across a creek or stream. A reminder to stay hydrated and fueled while out hiking in winter as shortages of water or nutrition can be prior conditions for hypothermia.
Roads and Trailhead Status: All marked and official hiking trails in the Catskill Park are open to the public. Many seasonal roads and parking lots are not maintained in the winter. Keep this list in mind if your car isn’t ready for snow/ice:
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 (reporting for Hunter, NY): Friday is looking mild and sunny with a high near 41°. The overnight low is 29°. Saturday, a 50% chance of precipitation with potential freezing rain until 11 am when it will change to rain. High of 37° and a low at night of 28°. Sunday should be mostly sunny with a high of 36°. The evening looks partly cloudy with a low of 19°.
Hunting Season: Small game is open now through the end of winter. Hunters can sign up for sporting licenses at the Catskill Interpretive Center, or through a local outfitter on the DEC’s site.
The Catskill Guide to Leave No Trace (LNT): Essential skills and outdoor ethics are crucial for enjoying the Catskill Park in a safe and responsible manner. Read on to discover the top three Leave No Trace considerations this week.
Plan Ahead and Prepare: One of the best ways to prepare for a hike is to have a printed map and to study it before you head out. Cellphones can be useful navigational tools—unfortunately, they can also be hard to rely on in the winter when batteries die more quickly. Information like total mileage, change in elevation, and parking accessibility will give you a great sense going into a hike what to expect and approximately how long you’ll be outdoors. Especially in winter, this knowledge will tell you how much water, food, and clothing to bring.
Leave What You Find: It can be tempting to bring home a bird feather or another artifact that you see while hiking. If you’re following best LNT practice, leaving what you find helps other hikers to really see the Catskills and all of the treasures that it has in store.
Hike on Durable Surfaces: If possible, walk straight through a muddy section of trail rather than around it. The trails will become less wide over time and soil compaction will be lessened as well.
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 the Catskills that provide real time weather data and forecasts. Hudson Valley Weather provides detailed forecasts for the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
The Catskill Interpretive Center (CIC) now hosts a weather station in the MesoWest Network. Check the current conditions in Mount Tremper, NY.
Winter Hiking Opportunities: The Catskill 3500’ Club has regular weekend hikes coming up on their winter schedule. The Catskill Mountain Club has an advanced hike and/or snowshoe planned for next week. Check with group leaders for more information about gear and skill level!
For More Information: The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center is located at 5096 Route 28 in Mt Tremper, NY and is open everyday from 8 am to 3 pm now through the winter. Come at the start of the day for discounted ski and snowboard lift tickets! The CIC's Gift Shop also carries trail maps, trail guides and more for purchase.
Call us at the CIC: 845-688-3369 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Bill Chriswell