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Thursday, December 18, 2014

News: Public Comment on Proposed Changes at Catskills Kaaterskill Falls being Solicited

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a Public Scoping Meeting for updates and amendments to the Kaaterskill Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the area immediately surrounding Kaaterskill Falls.  The meeting was held on Wednesday, December 17, 2014.  At the meeting, the DEC spoke of current conditions and some ideas for the future which included increasing visitor safety, improving trails and protecting the natural environment.  The public also had the opportunity to provide their feedback to DEC to start the planning process.

Regarding the process of updating and amending the Kaaterskill Wild Forest UMP, the DEC has said: Members of the public have a variety of opportunities to suggest issues to be addressed, identify problems, and offer comment on Unit Management Plans. The Department encourages public input through scoping meetings, during plan development and during the formal review of completed draft Unit Management Plans. People are encouraged to help in identifying issues that need to be addressed in the plan.  Input from the users of public land, local governments, neighboring landowners and anyone else with an interest in the property for which the plan is being developed is encouraged.

Questions about the updates can be addressed to Josh Borst, the DEC's Senior Forester at 607.652.3607.

If you'd like to submit written comments to DEC on potential changes for the Kaaterskill Falls area, they can be made until January 16, 2015 and can be sent to:

Josh Borst, NYSDEC, 65561 State Highway 10, Suite 1, Stamford, NY 12167
or via email at R4.UMP@dec.ny.gov


Need more information on hiking and planning your 
adventures in the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Catskill TrailsRead up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  We also have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps for hiking and exploring the Catskill Mountain region.


AMC Catskill Mountain Guide, 2nd: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills (Appalachian Mountain Club)   


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Event: Catskills Winter Gear and Gab, Second Sundays Series at Spillian | Sunday, December 14, 2014

As part of the Trail Conference's Second Sundays at Spillian workshop series, they will be holding a winter hiking for the new-to-winter hiker presentation, a short stroll around the Spillian trails and a shopping opportunity with local outdoor retailers!


Winter Hiking
Beginning with avid Catskills hiker, Catskill 3500 Club Board Member and Trail Conference Catskills Assistant Program Coordinator Heather Rolland who will present a short program exploring getting started and getting inspired to get outside on the trails this winter, with a focus on gear, safety, and special concerns for kids and dogs while in the great outdoors.

Spillian Trails
Will Soter, the Trail Conference's Trails Chair for the southern Catskills, will lead a walk on the Spillian grounds, and discuss the many volunteer opportunities available to the public on local trails.

Winter Gear
Local outfitters Kenco The Work and Play Outfitter, Catskill Mountain Storehouse and Morgan Outdoors will be on hand to answer questions about winter gear, offer suggestions for must haves and stocking stuffers, and yes - they will have a wonderful array of great stuff to help you get outside and play.

Refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public and you can register on the Trail Conference's page for this event or by calling 518.628.4243.  Spillian is located at 50 Todd Mountain Road in Fleischmanns, NY.

Friday, November 21, 2014

News: Support NY & NJ Trails this Giving Tuesday

It's often easy to assume that trails just happen, but that's simply not true.  The building, maintenance and care of trails and open space is done by an army of volunteers supporting small park staffs in many areas, including the trails of New York and New Jersey.  The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference alone maintains over 2,100 miles of trails in this area and volunteers put in over 75,000 hours a year (representing $1,950,000 worth of donated labor)!  All that work can't happen on its own, they need the support of those who use and enjoy the trails.

One way to provide that support is to take part in the Giving Tuesday event that the Trail Conference is running between Tuesday, November 25 and Tuesday, December 2.  This year your Giving Tuesday donation at the Trail Conference will go further thanks to a generous anonymous donor.  All gifts made during the eight days of the promotion will be matched 2-to-1. That means, when you give $50 toward the challenge, your gift will be matched with $100.
A great aspect to the promotion is you can generally support trails throughout New York and New Jersey or you can target your donation to the specific region you love (we love the Catskills!).  No matter where you direct your donation, the trails and the volunteers who give them plenty of TLC win.

Love Trails!

Monday, November 17, 2014

News: Catskill Conservation Corps steadily grows in first season of work!

Thanks to the partnership between the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that created the Catskill Conservation Corps, volunteers are seeing a steady growth of opportunities to be involved in a multitude of stewardship activities across the Catskills.

Trail building to fire tower stewards to litter pickups, volunteers are getting more involved with taking care of State lands within the Catskill Park and throughout the Catskill Mountains region.  The CCC now provides a one stop destination for the public to learn what kind of work is being done, to find opportunities to get involved, and to support the CCC if they cannot volunteer.

Check out a look back at the inaugural 2014 season of the Catskill Conservation Corps on their website.


Need more information on hiking and planning your 
adventures in the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Catskill TrailsRead up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  We also have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.

AMC Catskill Mountain Guide, 2nd: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills (Appalachian Mountain Club)   

News: National Take a Hike Day is November 17!

Who would have thought it, but November 17 is National Take a Hike Day!


Well really, whatever excuse you need to get out there, right?

Here are some of our suggestions to get you started on your hiking adventures:



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: ThermaCELL ProFLEX Heated Insoles

ThermCELL ProFLEX available
for $149 on Amazon
Our Quick Take On ThermaCELL ProFLEX Heated Insoles:  While they are expensive and take some time to get used to as insoles, they do work as advertised keeping your feet warm.  The batteries last long enough for most day-long activities and the wireless remote makes it easy to control them.

PROS: Easy to use and control, Keeps feet warm, Charges last long enough for day-long activities
CONS: Expensive, A bit stiff and thick for an insole

Have you ever hiked in the winter and wished your feet could just be a bit warmer?  I know I almost always have and that was the reason I was excited to try out the ProFLEX heated insoles from ThermaCELL.  As someone whose feet seem to get chilled as soon as I stop hiking, skiing or snowshoeing no matter what sock or what boot I wear, I thought a supplemental heat source that is almost built into the boot would be far superior than trying to use chemical hand warmers to add some heat.

“Remote controlled heated insoles,” I hear people mumbling as you think about wires, batteries and uncomfortable things in your boots, however ThermaCELL has done a decent job tackling these issues.  The insoles are run by rechargeable batteries that fit into the insole and the temperature of the insoles is controlled wirelessly by a small remote control that you carry.  The remote is small, light (only an ounce or two) and easy to carry.  The rechargeable lithium ion batteries for the insoles are located in the heel portion and are padded, so when they are inserted into the insoles, you notice very little difference between the battery and the rest of the insole.

There are three heat settings for the insoles: standby; medium; and high and there is an internal thermostat that regulates the insoles to keep them from overheating your feet.  The goal of the insoles is to keep your feet at your regular body temperature and they work harder the colder it is to do that.  On the medium setting the batteries last for about 5 hours, but I have found that I rarely use them continuously so they last longer.  One thing to consider is that standby really is standby, the insoles are still using energy from the batteries.  The only way to turn them off is to remove the battery, in which case the insoles cannot be used because of the hole the batteries would leave.  Charging up the batteries is straightforward with the included charger.

For me, I find I turn on the heating portion of the insole when I stop hiking and I am not actively working to raise my body temperature.  At those times, the insoles can kick on with some heat and keep my feet comfortable so they never dip into the getting cold territory.

What about comfort?  This is probably the only place I am a bit disappointed with these devices.  I do not find them to be as comfortable as a good pair of regular insoles in my hiking boots, but I have been on a couple of hikes with them now without any serious problems or foot pain.  To me, it is more that they just feel a bit more stiff (most likely due to the heating elements inside) than a regular insole and take some getting used to.  They definitely keep your foot a bit higher up in the boot, so you will have to adjust your lacing a bit.  My first time out with them I ended up adjusting my boots several times until I was able to get to a comfortable spot for activities

Overall though, they do keep your feet warm as advertised and for someone who is often chilly during winter activities, I will be looking forward to having these with me this winter.

ThermaCELL ProFLEX Heated Insoles are available in sizes from small to extra-extra-large and can be trimmed to properly fit your boot.  When you purchase them, they come with the two insoles, two battery packs, a charger and power cord, the remote control with lanyard and a small carrying bag for the insoles and the remote.  They are available through most outdoor retailers and sell from about $150 to $200.

The insoles were provided to our contributor Jeff Senterman free of charge in return for a review here at Adventures in the Outdoors and in the Trail Conference's Trail Walker.