The 3500 Club is committed to preserving the mountains of our region, both trailed and trail less, now and for generations to come. We feel that proper stewardship is one of the key missions of our organization. With that in mind, we encourage members and non-members to join us in following the guidelines below to help keep these mountains in as natural a state as possible and to ensure that the hikers that explore and use them stay safe. The Stewardship Committee has come up with three simple guidelines for this purpose:
1. FOLLOW THE RULES
Which rules do we mean? The regulations and guidelines created by the NYSDEC. These rules, guidelines and recommendations include but are not limited to the following:
Keep group sizes within legal limits. The 3500 Club allows a maximum of 12 participants on its sponsored hikes and recommends this for all.
No fires above 3500'.
No camping (except in winter) above 3500', within 150' of a trail, road or water source.
No cutting, cairn building, blazing, trail building or otherwise marking paths.
Respect private property.
Pack it in? Pack it out! Don’t litter, and don’t leave flagging or anything else in the woods.
Take only pictures. Don’t dig, cut, or harvest anything in the forest. Leave it there for others to enjoy.
Step well off the trail and bury human waste.
When in doubt, contact the local Forest Ranger.
Why follow these rules?
To promote a positive and enjoyable experience for all hikers and backpackers in the Catskills
To prevent damage to fragile areas
To preserve and enhance an experience of wilderness for all
2. USE A MAP AND COMPASS
Why do we recommend navigation by map and compass?
Many of the high peaks in the Catskills are trail less. Being able to enjoy these treasures and the wild woods around them requires skill, but the rewards are not insignificant. Hiking safely with confidence in trail less wilderness is a joy and an accomplishment.
GPS units can fail. Batteries can die, satellites can be hard to reach, or devices may simply malfunction.
To reduce herd path formation.
3. KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
Know your physical abilities. Take into account the abilities of everyone in your group, and if you are hiking with the club, please communicate all special needs or concerns to the hike leader in advance. Even strong and fit hikers have special circumstances arise which can impact their ability to complete a hike. Don’t commit to a hike that isn’t right for you.
Know your orientation skills. Don’t attempt a tricky bushwhack unless you have some good navigation experience under your belt.
Know how weather might affect your day. Check weather forecasts before you leave the house and watch the sky.
Make sure you wear and carry what you need for the day, given the specific conditions and terrain: proper footwear for the hike, layers for warmth and wet weather, food and water, and some first aid and emergency gear. Hiking is not much fun if you are uncomfortable, too cold, wet, hungry, or dehydrated. Taking good care of yourself is an important part of having a good wilderness ethic.
The Stewardship Committee also recommends that the 3500 Club adopts a policy of not promoting the use or publication of track logs for off trail areas. If a group is in a trailless area, best practice is to use the trail if one exists. If going off trail, we suggest that the group spread out so no one is walking in another's track.
The Committee feels that there should be no public posting of specific GPS data for any off trail location on NYS Forest or on Private property. This specifically includes track log data. This rule should be enacted to prevent herd path formation along specific Catskill bushwhack routes.
The Committee also realizes that many hikers use GPS data in a responsible and judicious manner. Posting locations of trailheads, water sources, trail junctions and other features along marked trails or roads are all examples of GPS use and information sharing that would be acceptable and potentially helpful to other hikers. But it is not the duty of the club to post these details.