With a beautiful fall weekend ahead of us, it’s time to hit the trail! Sunny and mild temperatures during the day on Saturday and Sunday are sure to make any weekend hike ideal, albeit a little muddy.
Trail Status and Closures: All marked and officially designated hiking trails in the Catskill Park are currently open to the public. All trailheads are open, and all gates are open for interior parking areas.
Trail Conditions: Over the last week the Catskills have seen a lot of rain and windy conditions. The trails are all wetter than usual, so be aware of slippery rocks and spring-like mud. We’ve had reports of downed trees and we suggest checking overhead for widow makers when setting up camp or stopping for a break. Temperatures are dropping into the 40s at night, so plan to pack fall hiking layers.
Forecast: Friday, expect minor showers in the morning turning to mostly cloudy across the park. Temperatures will reach a high of 64º Friday, at night dropping to the mid-forties. Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high near 62. At night, expect a low of 40-41º. Sunday will also be mostly sunny with a high near 59º, with temperatures dropping to 45º at nighttime.
Hunting Season: This Monday, October 1st marks the beginning of hunting season for many species such as coyote, cottontail rabbit, and squirrel. The DEC’s website has some useful maps of New York with regional and species-specific hunting information. Hikers should plan to dress in bright colors to stay visible.
The Catskills 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 three Leave No Trace considerations this week.
Know Before You Go – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin) These words have incredible application to the outdoors, where failing can lead to injury or worse. This week, plan for muddy conditions, dropping temperatures, and do plenty of research on the route or area you want to visit.
Stick to Trails and Camp Overnight Right – While the mud puddles are getting deeper and deeper, consider wearing tall boots and gaiters. As always, the best option when encountering a muddy section of trail is to hike straight through it. This aids in preventing trail widening, plus you earned those muddy boots!
Keep Wildlife Wild – Fall is a sensitive time of year for all wildlife here in the Catskills. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and store food properly both at home and in the backcountry. Animals across the park are preparing for winter and may be more active than usual. Keep a particularly close eye on your food and food scraps.
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
Road Closure: A single lane on Route 23A between Haines Falls and Palenville is open and two way traffic is being managed by a temporary traffic signal. Expect delays as work continues to repair storm damage.
Insects and Ticks (Tick Safety Tips): With cooler temperatures, mosquitoes and most other biting insects are kept at bay. That said, stay alert to ticks. Ticks carrying lyme disease are present and active in the Catskills throughout the fall when the temperature is above 45º, as are other tick species. Be sure to be prepared with repellants (see our suggested products) and always complete a tick check after hiking to ensure there are no ticks on your body. If you find a tick, make sure to remove it properly.
Thunderstorms and Lightning Safety for Hikers: When lightning strikes, make sure you are out of the way! Lightning Safety Tips for hikers from the American Hiking Society.
Seasonal Roads and Gates: Seasonal roads have opened for the season. Those roads include:
Platte Clove Road
Roaring Kill Road
Russell Brook Road
Mary Smith Road
The Gates at Alder Lake (Balsam Lake Wild Forest) and at Onteora Lake (Bluestone Wild Forest) have been opened for the season.
Peekamoose Blue Hole: A free day use permit is required to visit the Peekamoose Blue Hole on weekends and holidays. Permit regulations are in effect now through October 15th and they can be obtained through the Reserve America Website.
Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for changing weather conditions in the Catskills. Check the current 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.
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 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: Olivia Bernard