COVID-19 Hiking and Camping: NYS Fire Towers Closed

Trail sign in the Hunter Mountain area
Average read time 2 min

As we have all been asked to be socially responsible and practice social distancing during the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) outbreak, it is hard to do in urban areas. It seems that this will go on for some time and mandates will change as the situation changes. People have been heading for parks and playgrounds with their kids to ease the tension of being indoors. Who can blame them? We in the hiking community know all to well the value of being outdoors.

However, playgrounds, campgrounds, nature trails, and other park type activities can be hard to “navigate” in certain instances, especially with young children who are naturally socially driven. Generally, kids like to play with other kids.

For many people, exploring nature has become popular over the past couple of decades, many people have “found” the outdoors again. That’s good. But like parks, we need to be socially responsible in the backcountry during this period.

The NYSDEC and State Parks Department have issued some new orders and guidelines regarding park and backcountry usage. You can find it here.

Kaaterkill Falls

Kaaterkill Falls is open but access from RT 23A is closed, use the upper trailheads.

Catskill and Adirondack (and other state) Fire Towers Closed

NEW: Firetowers have reopened 

Closing access to DEC-controlled fire towers to the public, however, the trails to the fire towers remain open. During this time period, the Adirondack Mountain Club has suspended it’s Fire Tower Challenge.

Access to Doubletop and Graham Mountains in the Catskills suspended

NEW: The landowners have reopened access to Doubletop and Graham Mountains.

During this period the Gould family has decided to close its land and thus the access to Doubletop and Graham Mountains. The trail to Balsam Lake Mountain remains open, but see above about fire towers. During this period any ascent of the peaks will NOT count toward your 3500 membership according to the Catskill 3500 Club. Please respect the landowner’s rights.

Safety recommendations

  • Stay close to home
  • If you arrive at a trailhead and it is full, have a second hike nearby in mind. Don’t park at the roadside or pack the parking area above capacity.
  • Keep your distance at parking areas, on trails, break spots, lean-tos, and at viewpoints and other spots of interest. (remember 6-feet)
  • Do short-medium hikes rather than long endurance hikes (may be better for your immune system and less risk of injury – remember hospitals are already struggling don’t add to it)
  • The NYSDEC has made some recommendations on how to sign-in at trailheads during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read about it here.

And finally here are a couple of articles, how to recreate responsibly and safely through the COVID-19 pandemic and a great article about getting into nature with out going to nature.

NYS Parks InfoGraphic on safety during COVID-18
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking NYS Parks InfoGraphic