"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sniffing around the North-South Lake Park for RR Remnants (Part Two)

After our adventure down and back up exploring the Otis Incline Railway trestle remnants (Part One), we checked out more of the park...

Onward to Kaaterskill Falls

We continued southward on the legit trail and hiked on a few very steep connector trails that lead is up hill and closer (so the signage said!!) to the site of the old Kaaterskill Hotel. Sadly we never found it. My Camelbak was getting low on water and for a moment we were contemplating returning to the car. Thankfully we decided to continue on instead (who needs water on a hot day?!!).

Happily we reached Kaaterskill Falls and the view from the overlook is quite spectacular.

We sat down on a nearby retaining wall to chow down our packed lunches. Of course at that moment I realized my sandwich was still sitting in the cooler of my car - DUH!. But between the apples I had brought and Greg's trailmix and beef jerky (yum!) we were adequately replenished.
a nice "developed" section of the trail

Trestle Remnants at the Creek Crossing

A short walk up towards the parking lot brought us to the creek crossing trestle remnants which I had documented on my previous excursion:  Exploring Catskill Railroad Remnants >

Greg's Photos of this area

Traversing the old ROW

Next--now being veterans of hillside scrambles--we crossed the rocky stream bed and climbed up to get to the ROW. It was really neat to still see the ties in the ground and walk along a clearly-defined railroad embankment.
NOTE: My cell phone battery was low so I shot these on a different camera at apparently a "not so good" setting :-(   
looking back at the stream crossing

Greg took a couple of nice shots along here as well
looking back at the stream crossing 

After crossing Scutt Road, we stayed on the ROW which was now an official trail and encountered a family on bikes. Off to the side we noticed some foundations which appeared to be perhaps the footings for the water tower (?).
Once at South Pond we found the "undeveloped" trail south of the pond and continued our trek eastward. This tree on the rock caught my eye!
Rich's camera...
-Photo Courtesy of Greg Fealey-

Site of the Catskill Mountain House

Our finale for the day was fittingly the site of the old Catskill Mountain House. The view was absolutely stunning. It easy to see why this spot was a destination for myriads of tourists ages ago and why an incredible train transportation network was built to bring folks here. If any readers haven't yet been here--make it a point to visit--it's an incredible experience!
Rich's camera shots
-Photo Courtesy of Greg Fealey-

It was a short walk back to our cars and we topped off our day by a chowing down a hearty meal at Selena's Diner - a great old school diner down in the village of Haines Falls. We had a great and perhaps somewhat crazy adventure for sure. Thank you Greg Fealey for your kindred spirit and enthusiastic company!

Further Info

Catskill Mountaineer (trail info) 

The Otis Incline Railway (Part One)

After close to a year of planning and re-scheduling, I finally managed to explore the Otis Incline Railway. Although this trek was planned as a foursome, health issues sidelined two fellow trekkers. I was very thankful to have Greg Fealey join me. Truth be told, I probably wouldn't have done it on my own!!.

The Otis Incline Railway

The main goal of this trek was to document the remains of the Otis Incline Railway, especially the trestle. Ever since I saw this aerial, I was obsessed to check it out close up. All that was needed was a bit of courage (perhaps mixed with a bit of insanity!) and a day set aside to do it!

Its a fascinating relic and an amazing engineering marvel from yesteryear and strangely not that well known:

Needless to say--as the photos below will all to clearly illustrate--with all the undergrowth, it wasn't the best time of year to bushwhack and regrettably to get the best photos. But too many previous postponements and re-scheduling necessitated this "jungle trek" ("now or never!").

Our Descent

Greg and I met at the parking lot closest to the top of the incline railway ROW and we gingerly made our way down.  Between unrelenting undergrowth, the hot sun beating down on us and ridiculously steep sections, it was a tough hike for sure!
-Photo Courtesy of Greg Fealey-
For quite a distance we made our way through a rock cut  (12 ft deep or so) which kept us a bit cooler.
-Photo Courtesy of Greg Fealey-
through the rock cut
An unnavigable drop forced us to bushwhack a steep "tumble down" through the adjoining woods but once back on the incline, we were rewarded with a series of the railway's foundations--probably supports for a wooden trestle.
the drop
before the side trek
Our "tumble down side trek"
-short video-

Descending further on the incline
The foundations - ooo yeah!
-super short video-
-Photo Courtesy of Greg Fealey-
-Photo Courtesy of Greg Fealey-
For much of the continued descent, we cautiously treaded over loose slag - mixed sizes of slate that originated from the blasted rock dumped downhill from the rock cut above us.

We did cross a perpendicular trail which was noted on our topo maps but our repeated mantra was "Keep going, it's gotta be just ahead!" Greg was leading the descent and the first to spot the trestle. Frustratingly it was somewhat obscured by overgrowth so snapping starkly dramatic photos of the exposed trestle wasn't in the cards for us :-(

At the Trestle

Greg securing footing for a good photo
at the trestle (obscured by greenery!)
a couple of close-ups

Greg shot quite a few excellent photos!

After a couple of high-fives and numerous photos of the trestle, we slogged back up the incline. We  decided to forgo the full ascent and take the trail we crossed over instead.

Continued (Part Two) >