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The Mountain Top Historical society presents Hikefest 2021 from Friday Oct. 8 to Saturday Oct. 9. Hikefest begins Friday night with a Zoom presentation on the history of the Hotel Kaaterskill by Robert Gildersleeve. Saturday there are two hike options: one to the grounds of the former Hotel Kaaterskill and the other to sites along the Kaaterskill escarpment trail that inspired the art of Sanford Robinson Gifford, a member of the Hudson River School of Painting. See below for more details. Register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or calling 518-589-6657. 

Oct. 8 (Friday) Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds History Zoom Presentation, 6:20 – 7:15pm. To prepare for our exploration of the Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds on the hike scheduled for October 9, Robert Gildersleeve will host a Zoom meeting to discuss the history of the Hotel. To receive the link to participate in the meeting, you must register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   We recommend that you log in to the meeting at 6:20 so that we can admit you and be ready to start at 6:30.

Oct. 9 (Sat)

Hike One: Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds, 9am-3pm. Led by Paul LaPierre, Pete Senterman, and Bob Gildersleeve – The Hotel Kaaterskill, said at the time to be the largest mountain hotel in the world, was started as a result of the legendary “Chicken War” between Philadelphia lawyer George Harding and Charles L. Beach, the owner of the Catskill Mountain House. Since then it has sparked our interest and the interest of our members and friends. About two years ago, Scott Koster discovered a survey document from 1883 in the collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The survey has provided so much additional information that we decided to revisit the site. Meet at the Historical Society’s U&D train station on the MTHS campus in Haines Falls at 9:00 a.m. We will then carpool to North-South Lake State Park (entrance fee per car or free with Empire Pass) to begin our walk to the Hotel Kaaterskill site. This is a moderate hike of about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 400 feet. Planned return at 3:00 pm. Bring a lunch and water. Sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended. More details see this description. 

Hike Two: "In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford" 9 am – 2 p.m. Join geologist Robert Titus for a journey back into the Ice Age, whose landscapes were the subjects of the artists of the Hudson River School. This hike will locate spots along the Blue Trail where Sanford Robinson Gifford sketched and we'll examine evidence of glacial activity at each location. Moderate, four miles. Bring water and lunch. Return by 3 p.m. Meet at Laurel House Road parking lot at 9am. Dogs welcome if owners comply with Park rules.