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Thread: Access to Doubletop and Graham in the Catskills now forbidden

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Access to Doubletop and Graham in the Catskills now forbidden

    From the Catskill 3500 Club:

    The End of an Era:

    Doubletop and Graham are closed to all public access

    Dear fellow hikers,

    Doubletop and Graham will no longer be accessible to the public regardless of whether they are local or not. I share this news with sadness because of all the history the Club has had with these two peaks, but I do not think this will be surprising to those who have been reading the updates. Since the 3500 Club began the list in the 1960s, the Goulds have been very generous over the years in allowing so many hikers to experience these special mountains and we deeply thank them for their openness and access during that time.

    We all have seen how the number of hikers in the Catskills has increased in the past few years and COVID-19 has just been a part of that this was happening pre-COVID-19 as well. With more people pursuing the 35, the addition of lists like the grid, single season and some double single seasons and the proliferation of information through social media, the traffic on these mountains (and everywhere) is expanding. Increased connection with nature can be a wonderful thing as all of us know who are so passionate about it, but all this expanded usage has ramifications. The impact on the natural resources is evident and the Goulds have taken this step to enhance the health of the ecosystem and protect the flora and fauna. Consequently, the family has decided that the mountains they love need to make the return back to their original wilderness state.

    Jim Bouton and I were on Doubletop on Sunday and removed the old canister. Please continue to use South Doubletop and Millbrook Ridge as replacements until the Club board meeting at the end of January when new permanent mountains for the list will be finalized. Needless to say, if a tally list is submitted with Doubletop or Graham after today, we will not count it and will know that it was an illegal climb. We will announce final decisions after the 1/31 meeting.
    Note: You must ONLY access South Doubletop from state land, regardless of whether you are local or not. We ran into trespassers on Sunday who tried to shortcut the longer route required to hike the peak on entirely public land who clearly did not request permission. The Goulds will prosecute anyone who trespasses so use this as an opportunity to learn a real bushwhack and challenge yourself. That really is what the list is about!

    Please respect the decision by the Gould family as they have thought deeply about this. We should be appreciative for how long we have had access to these mountains and that there are landowners who want to preserve our beloved Catskill mountains in their natural state without thought of commercial opportunities.
    And share this news with anyone who may not see it on Facebook, Groups.io, or is not on our mailing list!

    Maria Bedo-Calhoun, President, Catskill 3500 Club
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO

  2. #2
    Senior Member SpencerVT's Avatar
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    I think a wiser and more equitable solution would have been to open the mountains on 2-3 weekends a year, instead of closing them off altogether. That's similar to what they do for Charles Mound in Illinois. This would strike a healthy balance between allowing the mountains to rejuvenate their ecosystem and not be overtrodden, while at the same time provide an opportunity for people to still experience these special mountains.
    I think that would work well and be much better than forbidding the peaks completely.
    Spencer
    Bigfoot

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    A lot of things went on behind the scenes, and since I don't know all of them, I will not comment.

    But I know that 'very limited access' was proposed to the owners...

    Aside from the one herd path up Doubletop and the road up Graham, I have not seen any big devastation to these mountains, but I don't own them and I don't know what they looked like 60 years ago.

    This past year, they were selling hunting permits, so I'm not sure access will be TOTALLY forbidden.
    Last edited by Tom Rankin; 01-14-2021 at 02:07 PM.
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    FYI, since people seem to be confused elsewhere, you can still hike any of the official DEC trails inside Gould property, on the way to peaks such as Balsam Lake, Eagle, Big Indian.
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO

  5. #5
    Senior Member Puma concolor's Avatar
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    If they want to make the closing legally enforceable, they’re going to have to put nail holes in a whole lot of trees ... which would arguably be more environmentally damaging and less aesthetically-pleasing than mere footprints in the woods. Putting the word out to the Club and placing signage at the trailhead is a start, but ultimately NYS law requires signage placed entirely around the the property to prove that the trespassing was done “intentionally and knowingly.” I also think there might be a bit of a lack of understanding of at least a portion of the list-bagging population. While some folks are all about the Club and the patch and the camaraderie, others care only about completing the true list whether that list be in the Catskills, Adirondacks, New England or wherever.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puma concolor View Post
    If they want to make the closing legally enforceable, they’re going to have to put nail holes in a whole lot of trees ... which would arguably be more environmentally damaging and less aesthetically-pleasing than mere footprints in the woods. Putting the word out to the Club and placing signage at the trailhead is a start, but ultimately NYS law requires signage placed entirely around the the property to prove that the trespassing was done “intentionally and knowingly.” I also think there might be a bit of a lack of understanding of at least a portion of the list-bagging population. While some folks are all about the Club and the patch and the camaraderie, others care only about completing the true list whether that list be in the Catskills, Adirondacks, New England or wherever.
    If you hike in or around the area, you will see that the land *IS* posted all the way around, perhaps not to the letter of the law in every place, but pretty well. And I suspect they are well aware of the statute.
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO

  7. #7
    Senior Member Puma concolor's Avatar
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    OK. Cool.

    Been more than 20 years since my one and only bushwhack of Doubletop. I guess things have changed. Can’t remember if there was any signage on the Graham jeep road back then.

    Hardly a unique situation in the Catskills, though. Large and small tract land owners have been at odds with locals over nature usage for decades. Used to run into it all the time particularly along the section of the Kaaterskill Creek in Palenville heading up towards Tannersville.

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