If you’re looking to hike or snowshoe this weekend the DEC is reporting winter conditions in the Catskills along with advice on how to properly prepare. However, snowmobilers might be out of luck.
The Double Sided Coin of a Winter Wonderland
Recent cold weather along with ice and snow have created harsh conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Catskill backcountry, according to the DEC.
“Now that the colder weather has arrived in the Catskills, visitors can take advantage of all the winter recreation opportunities in the park,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. “However, harsh weather can create dangerous situations to visitors that are unprepared.”
In other words, now is a great chance to enjoy winter recreation opportunities, but you could fall ill or get injured if you don’t take proper precautions.
Snow, Ice & Cold Weather
Snow depths currently range from three to four inches across the central and western portion of the Catskills, with deeper snow at higher elevations and mountain summits. You can expect ice on trails, exposed outlooks, and mountain summits.
Ice is forming on ponds, lakes, slow moving streams, and backwaters of rivers. It’s not safe to stand on or walk on at this time. Ice will remain unsafe until temperatures fall below freezing for a significant and continuous period of time.
The DEC recommends visitors be equipped with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice, and cold, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Traction devices, micro-spikes, and snowshoes should be used to navigate trails where appropriate. In addition, trees are currently weighed down from ice and snow. Downed trees can obscure trail markers and make trails more difficult to locate.
For the Snowmobilers
Despite the winter conditions many snowmobile trails remain closed. Additional snowfall is still needed to provide a good base for snowmobile travel. If you’re interested in snowmobiling in the Catskills you should check with local snowmobile clubs to determine the status and condition of specific trails, or you can view the New York State Snowmobile Association Interactive Trail Map.
Safety Tips to Abide By
The DEC recommends visitors to Catskill backcountry adhere to the following guidelines:
Be aware of weather conditions and postpone your trip if need be. Dress properly with layers of wool, fleece, and other materials that wick moisture (no cotton). Wear a wool or fleece hat, mittens or gloves, wind/rain resistant outerwear, gaiters, and insulated winter boots.
Carry a day pack with the following: traction devices, extra clothing, a map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight or headlamp, sunglasses, sunblock protection, packable insulated pad, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blanket.
Bring plenty of food and water with you as well and eat, drink, and rest often. You’re more vulnerable to hypothermia when you’re hungry, dehydrated, or tired.
Know the terrain and your capabilities, keeping in mind it takes more time and energy to travel through snow than it does on the same trails when they’re bare. Avoid traveling alone and inform someone of your intended route and return time. Call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518.408.5850 to report lost or injured people or other backcountry emergencies.