National Park tourists stumble across two extremely curious bears on hiking trail

Two brown bears at Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

Two hikers had to think fast on a visit to Katmai National Park and Preserve when they stumbled across two particularly curious brown bears on a densely wooded trail. Visitors to Katmai are advised to stay well away from the animals and watch from a safe distance, but sometimes close encounters happen when visibility is limited, forcing visitors to stay calm and find a way out of the situation.

Photographer Alex McGregor was visiting the park with a companion when he spotted one bear emerging from the undergrowth. He reacted correctly by speaking calmly and consistently to identify himself as human, while guiding his hiking partner away, but the pair had to change their plans on the fly when a second animal arrived on the scene.

McGregor recorded the whole encounter, which you can watch below, and shared the footage on Tiktok on Sunday,


♬ original sound - chasing.luminance

Rather than simply making their way directly back the way they came, the pair decided to head into the trees to escape the bears, which had taken an interest and were heading straight for them.

"Every other time we saw a bear on the people trail they were just using it as a highway, cruising back and forth," McGregor explained. "So we were trained to get off the trail and give them the right away while making sure the bear knows we're there so we don't startle them. This bear had other ideas... we're very grateful to the bear school training that helped us keep calm and move out of his way."

Bears at Katmai

Most people who visit Katmai do so for the brown bears. The park and preserve are home to around 2,200 of the animals, and is one of the few unaltered habitats where they are able to thrive..

The National Park Service (NPS) explains that it's important to maintain a balance between appreciating and studying the bears, and giving them space and peace to live undisturbed.

"It is important that all who visit Katmai respect bears and are armed with the knowledge to stay safe in bear country," says the NPS. "The urge to take the perfect photograph or maintain the best fishing hole with your fly rod can be strong, but bears need space to sleep, eat, rest, travel, and play." 

Spring and early summer are some of the best times to see bears at Katmai, when the animals move to open land to feed on sedges and dig for clams in the mudflats. In late summer, the bears gather at Brook Falls to feast on sockeye salmon as the fish move upstream to spawn, putting on weight ready for hibernation.

For advice on how to handle a bear encounter, check our our guide what to do if you meet a bear: a guide to wildlife safety.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.