The Hotel Kaaterskill is a great moderate hike and the start of the trail is located just outside the entrance of the North-South Lake Campgrounds. The Scutt Road DEC parking area is a popular starting point for many Catskill hiking destinations. (More information below the photo gallery)
We parked at the Scutt Road parking area and was reading the hiking board when an orange car drove up to us. The license plate on the car read ‘CHOWTIME’. The driver of the vehicle asked us if this was a good location to walk dogs. We were unsure but answered that there was a horse resting area and loading ramps to help people get on horses within the confines of the parking area. We then mentioned there was no horses at the site or horse trailers parked at the location. The driver thought best to maybe find another spot in case any horses did show up. We started a small conversation with the driver of the vehicle. My father made a positive comment about his 2 Chow Chow dogs found in the back of his car. As my father approached the rear window of the car the driver stated: “You did it right. That is how you should approach. They are very protective”. The driver then started to talk about his 2 Chow Chows and how protective they were to him and his wife as they saved his life in a bear attack. His wife was in the passenger seat. The owner of the dogs told us a story about how one of his Chow Chows which was in the backseat helped wrestle down a black bear when the black bear wandered into to their backyard of their home and attempted to attack him. The driver of the car with the license plate ‘CHOWTIME’ stated that the story of his black bear attack was featured on Discovery Channel.
His black bear story could have been easily forgotten and not mentioned in this blog post if was not for the fact of our encounter a few short hours later. We met a black bear on the way back down from the Hotel Kaaterskill. It was walking on the trail where we were heading too. The bear was huge. In fact it was tremendous. One of the largest I have ever seen. My father and I walked the other direction slowly and the bear did not follow and soon disappeared back into the woods.
A few quick pieces of information regarding the hike:
1- The trail is marked very well to the top. However once at the location there is little current signage regarding the hotel or location.
2- It is easier if you walk on Scutt Road to the end and then utilize the old railroad right of way to get back onto the trail. The trail which parallels Scutt Road is rocky.
3- This area has a very high incidence of encounters with black bears. We did encountered a very large black bear while hiking to the Hotel Kaaterskill remains. Several sources state 750 lbs is the large end size for black bears. This bear weighed as much.