Big Game Hunting Season News                                                                  View this email in your browser
Annual Big Game Hunting Season Opens November 21st

Heads up Hikers!  New York's annual big game regular hunting season begins on November 21st and lasts through December 13th. During this period thousands of hunters will be taking deer and bear with rifles and shotguns.

While hunting accidents are rare, many hikers prefer to avoid the woods during this season. If you are one, don't despair because there are numerous trails in the Catskills and in nearby areas where hunting is not allowed. The CMC has compiled an extensive list of the restricted areas.  Remember, in addition to state lands hunting is allowed on most lands belonging to the NYCDEP, including parcels that are sites of some CMC trails.

Hikers should always wear orange during hunting seasons and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Avoid hiking during dawn and dusk hours when visibility is low.  Small game season is currently open, so it is a good idea to wear orange now.  New York's 2020 hunting seasons, including maps and dates, are summarized here.

NOTE: The Ashokan Quarry Trail will be closed to all hikers during the dates of this season. Only hunters with valid licenses may use the parcel. The trail will reopen to all hikers on December 14th.

The Popularity of Hiking in the Catskills Continues to Grow

Even with the arrival of colder and wetter weather, hiking use of Catskills trails continues to be much higher than in years past.  On CMC trails use is up over 60% from 2019.  We do not have comparable numbers for DEC maintained trails, but they are no doubt experiencing similar increases.  Exactly why remains to be seen, but clearly the pandemic has played a major role as folks seek safe recreational options to replace indoor and large group activities.  Contributing factors may include higher visitation due to successful promotion of the Catskills as an outdoor recreation destination and the increasing popularity of the Catskills for second home buyers. 

With hundreds of miles of trails, the Catskills provide ample opportunity for crowd free outdoor adventures.  Nevertheless, there are several destinations that should be avoided.  Among the most visited sites are Kaaterskill Falls and the adjacent North-South Lake area. Other locations that are under stress include Giant Ledge, Slide Mountain, Tremper Mountain, Overlook Mountain, Red Hill Fire Tower and some trailheads accessing the Devil's Path and the Escarpment Trail.  For your own enjoyment and for the sake of protecting plants and animals in these areas we suggest looking for other destinations, especially if you are hiking on weekends or holidays.  Be aware that many other trails are busier than usual, so be prepared to look elsewhere if parking facilities are over full.  Remember that towns will issue tickets and even tow violators for parking illegally.

It is also very important that we all respect one another in these times of great stress. We are in this together and that means on the trails as well as in other locations.  Be sure to maintain a comfortable distance from other hikers and wear masks when near others.  Keep dogs on leash at all times when hiking on busy trails.  Park vehicles responsibly so you do not block others from being able to leave parking lots. In cases of emergency, this is especially important.  And finally, always respect the guidance you receive from Forest Rangers, DEC personnel and other first responders.  They are in the business of helping folks understand how to enjoy their visit safely and in a way that protects our environment and recreational facilities.

Happy hiking!
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