One of the best places in NJ to camp. If your into kayaking, boating, fishing, camping, hiking and much more then this is the place for you. You can either hike in to a site up to 7 miles or as we did, we loaded everything onto our kayaks and took the trip straight across. The view from the beach side sites are amazing, there is plenty of space in each site and plenty of space in between sites. I highly recommend this one to anyone who is trying to get away.
This campsite has everything, several beaches, historic building and history, amazing sunsets ,shade trees and very long bike trails.
A quick 40 minutes north of NYC, Harriman State Park has an eclectic little campground called Beaver Pond. The grounds are just steps away from Welch Lake, offering a lifeguard monitored sandy beach which is open during the summer season for swimming, fishing, and small boat craft further out.
“Welcome to Bear Mountain” grumbles the park ranger as he sits in complete darkness! He is in his ranger hut, checking in the late evening arrivals to the campground. It’s totally dark inside, lit only by the glow of the outside lamps. The atmosphere is complete with spider webs covering the walk up window, and I swear I saw a black widow doppelgänger . He’s nice, but you can tell he’s given this welcome speech too many times to get overly excited about it. He offers us a highlighted map to our site, wishes us a good stay, and gives us the run down on bear activity in the area. I mean, we are in Bear Mountain, what do you expect?!?
The campground offers several different sties, from platform tent spaces to those for 25’ trailers. All sites have a standard picnic table and fire ring. Our site is a trailer site, it’s perfect for the trusty old pop-up, and feels nice and roomy. Although no site offers electric or water hook up, camp amenities include: a moderately stocked store, public bath houses, a laundry facility, playground for the kids and camp-sinks with access to water.
Offering the peaceful tranquility of sitting under the changing oak, sumacs, maples, and poplars, I wouldn’t recommend this site for the quiet hearted. There is a constant buzz in the air of conversation, music, laughter and shrieking toddlers. Quiet time at night is laughable as the enjoyment of being in nature rages on into the early morning. I myself could go either way; I’m not overly bothered by the late nights and chorus of noise, but living in the megalopolis that I call home, it would be nice to not have the ruckus constantly follow you to the great outdoors.
We didn’t visit Welch Lake beach but for a quick walk to the area for a few pictures; it’s past season at this point, and I still have to do some fishing pole shopping. A quick 15 minute drive from Beaver Pond, is Bear Mountain State Park. Here you can find some of the Appalachian Trail, with various smaller trail heads for this historic (Revolutionary Times 1770s) part of the region including the one to Doodle Town. Long since the last resident left, the area is a ruins with markers showing where a house was, but most of the area has been taken back by nature leaving only a stone stair case here or a partial foundation wall there. It terminates at Iona Island Bird Sanctuary, a lovely long grassed marshland. The trails in the area are friendly to hikers, bikers, and the non arthritic kneers, as most are rated moderate to challenging. Don’t fret, trails that are rated easy and accessible to disabled are equally enjoyable and beautiful. They offer stunning views of the changing foliage, quick glances at the Hudson River and the rolling hills of the area. We didn’t take the Perkins Memorial Tower trail, but heard it was amazing. Next Time!!!
There are 20 tent sites spread across four loops. There is NO beach access. Some sites have shelters, others do not. Pay attention when reserving. All sites have a fire pit and picnic table. Sites are walk-in (only about¼ mile) and carts are available to haul gear. Two water spigots and bathrooms with flush toilets are also on-premise. No electric, hook-ups, or showers. The nearby beaches have outdoor shower facilities though. The racoons are fierce. They will eat through your tent. Use the bear lockers provided to store anything scented.
Activities abound: hit the beaches for (non-motorized) water sports or sunbathing (Gunnison is the nude beach), learn about the military history of the area on an NPS tour, visit the oldest working lighthouse in the US, walk or bike the multi-use trails, go birding, and more! Nearby Hartshorne Woods Park (Monmouth County Park System) has great hiking and mountain bike trails too.
Round Valley is certainly a must see for any type of outdoors person, or someone who appreciates relaxation in a gorgeous landscape. It is a semi-mountainous, forested setting with a very large "lake", which is really a man-made reservoir in the middle of a valley. The crystal-clear water is home to huge lake trout and the forests are bursting with wildlife. The sunsets across the lake are to die for. You will have to look very hard to find a more beautiful camping scene in New Jersey. Also, it's dog friendly!
There is no car access to these campsites, you must keep your vehicle overnight in their south parking lot. If you have a camping registration you do not have to pay the fee to enter the park after you check in to the office. The only way to get to the campsites which are located on the other side of the reservoir deep in the woods, are by boating in, backpacking in, or biking in. If you are boating, kayaking, or canoeing to your site, be very careful and watch the wind warnings. If the wind-warning strobe lights go off you should get off of the water asap because the waters can get very rough and this place is nicknamed the Bermuda Triangle of NJ. We were originally going to boat in for a quick overnight, but at the last minute we decided we wanted a challenge. We backpacked 5.5 miles in on an August morning to site #52. The trail was mountainous, rocky, hilly, but for the most part in the shade. This is definitely not a walk through the park easy trail, pack light and don't bring coolers or wagons if you are hiking it. The first three miles are very rocky, with some larger rocks protruding from the ground, but from there on the trail turns into smooth asphalt to allow for ranger and emergency vehicles and it gets a lot easier. We were a bit sore the next day with a couple of mild blisters but we were still able to easily do the 5.5 mile hike back in the afternoon. Someone who does a lot of hiking and backpacking will find the trail easy, but with little to no experience you may struggle. My dog is a 7 year old retriever with minor joint issues and the trail was a piece of cake to her (she even carried all of her own gear).
These are truly primitive sites with only a few drinking water pumps scattered about and some primitive outhouses, however, you never feel completely alone here because the campsites are not spaced too far apart. My honest opinion: filter or purify your water right from the reservoir if you have the option, because you may be far from a pump, or it may be temporarily closed, and the reservoir water tastes good and is cold. I also opt to skip the outhouses too because they are never clean and always stink unbearably no matter where they are. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. Alcohol and smoking are not permitted. If you must bring alchohol, bring a little in a subtle container and do not bother the other campers. Swimming is also technically not permitted but there were many people swimming and we swam also and no one was bothered.
Now onto our campsite. Site 52 was nearly perfect. The views were to die for. We were able to clearly see the water past the trees from our tent and from our picnic table. The trip to the water was just a few yards away by a footpath carved through tall grass. Unfortunately, the guests before us were very dirty and there was fresh trash scattered about our spot, so we had some cleaning to do when we arrived. The other downside to this spot is you could just barely see site 53 from your spot, which wasn't a huge deal but it wasn't total privacy. Since the surrounding campsites are just barely spaced out to give enough privacy, you can clearly hear your neighbors if they are being noisy. Keep that in mind if you are being the noisy one too. The park strictly enforces its rules and if you are being a nuisance you will be escorted off the property. We saw it first hand on our overnight trip. Our neighbors were college-age, very loud and rowdy, chugging beers and smoking (both are not permitted so don't make it obvious if you are doing either). Suddenly it got quiet and we look over and there are 3 cops at their site arresting them. We were thankful that it got quiet after that, but it was short lived, right before the sun set our other neighbors boat in and start playing music loudly and chopping wood, this continued until around 1am. We would have complained but we were just too tired and kept just falling back asleep. But seriously please don't be that guy.
Onto the the tl;dr!
- Breathtaking scenery
- Gorgeous crystal-clear water
- Sites are in a beautiful wooded area
- Sites have a picnic table and nice fire rings
- You can boat, kayak, or canoe right into your spot if you have a water-access site, site numbers are posted to help you find your spot
- Great spot to watch wildlife
- Amazing spot for water sports, fishing, swimming, etc
- Beautiful, scenic trails to hike or bike
- Can confirm the sunsets are gorgeous
- Every site is dog friendly!
- There is a lot of variety with the sites (water access or more into the mountain, full shade, partial, or no shade, how far they are spaced apart, etc) so you will be able to find the site that is perfect for you
- Paths that allow for emergency vehicles, police, and rangers keep the place safe and fun while giving you the remote feeling of a campsite
- Lots of tinder and firewood available to gather
- Our site had a couple clotheslines hung already
- Each outhouse had bear-proof trash cans, very handy
- Our site was left littered
- Noisy, disruptive neighbors
- Not full privacy (depending on the site)
- Outhouses smelled like death and were terribly dirty and dark
- Only 2 water pumps were working when we went, and they were both way too far, we brought a water filter and pumped our own water straight out of the reservoir
- The trail had a surprising amount of litter, mainly tinfoil and cigarette butts scattered along the trail. Perhaps the rangers could be more strict about littering
- Mild boat noise at water-front sites
THINGS TO DO AT ROUND VALLEY
- Great fishing
- Beautiful hiking trails
- Wildlife/bird watching
- Mountain biking
Enjoyed the rustic setting. In the sparse woods of the northern pine barrens. Nicely manicured sand roads and sites. Stay in the outer loops if you like more privacy.
This campground is old and there isn't much there, but it depends on why you're camping whether that matters to you. We wanted to be by the beach and we were.
The playground is new and centrally located. They also have a horseshoe pit.
There are lots of RVs but not close to tent sites. There were lots of showers but only 1 was unlocked (free and with hot water). The bathroom was very clean and well stocked.
There are 5-7 tent sites. Ours was #59, well shaded and spacious.
The water spigot and the gray-water dump are not right by the tent sites. Seems silly since the tents are the ones using them.
Our site was not clean when we arrived. There was garbage in the woods and cigarette butts on the ground. We cleaned up everything ourselves (except in the woods due to poison ivy), but I think they can do better.
There are NO fire pits, you must bring your own. Fires are allowed but you must have a fire container or bucket for your fire off of the ground.
The sites all have a table and raised BBQ "pit" for cooking only.
They are extremely nice there.
I still give this campground 4 stars because it was quiet, the campground itself was clean, the bathrooms were clean and it was centrally located to what I wanted to do plus the sites are very big.
We went on 4th of July weekend so the place was packed. We were able to get a secluded spot in the woods which was great! 2 teenage girls had a blast in the lake and riding their bikes around. Pool was packed so didn’t spend time there but the ceramic class was fun for the girls. Lots of seasonal campers so not much room for spots for weekend visits unless you want to be in the field areas with not much shade cover. Overall we had a good experience.
Super lindo todo!! $15 dolares la noche para los que viven en el Estado de New York o New York city .. si es fuera del estado son $5 dolares mas!! Lo mejor es reservar online y escojer el espacio pero no es obligatorio.. si quieres acampar en un area lejos y solo pues escojan la seccion W… no todas las secciones tienen una plataforma de madera para poner tu caseta de campaña.. algunas secciones son las casetas ensima de la grama.. lo mejor es buscar una seccion que esten los bańos y las duchas cerca en caso también de que se te antoje ir de madrugada … para el mes de Agosto no habia nada de mosquitos ni moscas .. El personal muy amable .. no habia mucha vigilancia.. lo que si es llevar mucho gas y carbon y palos de madera para la fogata y estar preparado si llueve.. hay una tienda que venden palos para la fogata $12.. venden Cafe $1 . Hielo $5 ..$10 .. venden frisas .. leche y muchas cosas mas!!! Hay un lago estilo playa..bueno lo unico que los que no están acostumbrados a ver o escuchar animales salvajes es un poco miedoso en la noche!! Nunca tener comida ni nada de olor dentro de las casetas por que los osos viene por la comida .. dejar todo dentro del carro .. y en fin todo muy lindo.. los bańos y bańera muy limpios y ademas puedes cargar en el bańo el celular
The place was nice & cleaned and cheap. The lady in the store is rude & smokes to much, the pool area closes at 6pm that’s to early I think, the Baseball fields is run down, Quite time is from 10:00pm-8am Strictly Enforced but people were still partying & making noise at till 1am.
I highly recommend this campground as a place to get out and camp out on the water. You can hike in by foot but if you have camp gear and tent equipment my recommendation is to canoe your belongings in! There’s usually a couple of campfires at each site and you’ll book with the rangers when you drive in or by phone to get your permit. The sunsets here are incredible and I’ve camped in Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota!
My husband and and I camped one night at this newly reopened park over the weekend in Long Island just to check it out and were pretty disappointed by the tent camping area. There are 69 tent/trailer sites(no hook ups). There is no distinguishing separation between each site nor a designated driveway for your car- you merely pull up on the grass. It's basically like camping in your local city park. People park wildly all over the place, which also makes it more difficult to determine which site is which by the number painted on the roadway. Each"site" has a picnic table and an barbecue grate on a post. There is one bath/shower house in the center of all of these sites with no path provided for folks to walk to and fro, so naturally people will walk right through your site randomly rather than around the road. While the bathroom building itself is in decent shape and has a large amount of toilet stalls and about five showers, the condition of women's room was absolutely ghastly inside.
At some point during the evening, a maintenance worker on a golf cart showed up with a mop and some cleaning supplies and cleaned the men's side of the building. I was so relieved when I saw him, but he seemed to neglect the women's side completely, so I resorted to using the men's facilities all night.
There are no fire pits on any of the sites, although I learned afterwards that they do allow you to bring your own metal fire pit as long as it is elevated off the ground. There are large dumpsters located throughout the camping area and a large trash bag is provided (if needed) at the camp office when you check in.
The highlight of Heckscher State Park is the newly constructed heated cottages located on the shore of Nichol's& Great South Bays.. There are currently 11 cottages--- with more under construction. There are cottages suited for two, four, and six people and range in price from$225-$285 per night during off peak seasons and$250- 320 per night during the peak seasons.
The cottages are fully furnished, with a full kitchen and large bathroom with a walk in shower. The cottages are a short walk from the beach and also include a fire pit with Adirondack chairs and an outdoor shower on the exterior each property. I do not have photos of the inside, but they do have them on the Reserve America website if you are interested.
While the cottages are lovely and their location is fabulous they are quite pricey and no TLC was spent in the$22 tent/rv camping area, other than a new registration office which is not yet completed as of this weekend. I do hope they invest some funding in the primitive area to add fire pits,more water spigots, clearer site markings and for the continued maintenance& upkeep of the bath/shower house.
* I emailed the parks departement about the issues mentioned above about the camping area and received this reply:
I am sorry that you are upset with the conditions in our recently opened campgrounds. We have replaced all of the picnic tables. Although, they may look old because they are weathered since these picnic tables were put together during the Winter, however, they are brand new. All of the barbeques are also new and were installed during the Winter. We have changed and modernized the light fixtures and we will be replacing the rusted doors that you mentioned. There are also plans to install a playground within the campground beginning this Fall and we are looking for other improvements and additions to the campgrounds. As you probably noticed there is a new building under construction, at the entrance to the campgrounds, and it will serve as a check-in area, as well as, additional comfort stations, including family restrooms. Your suggestion of fire pits is a good one and the Park Managers will evaluate the feasibility of installing these. Lastly, I have spoken to the Park Manager who will review the cleaning operation to ensure the restrooms are appropriately maintained. I apologize for our employee not cleaning the women's room. Again, I am sorry for your negative experience but we are continuing to make improvements to the campgrounds.
Sincerely, George Gorman Regional Director New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
I will check back later this year to see if anything was changed and report back.
We went to Round Valley Resevoir on 6/21-6/22/19. When hit the water around Noon and after paddling for about 15 minutes the wind really kicked up and the water got pretty rough. We originally were supposed to camp at site 83, but the water was too rough to continue that far. The strobe lights were activated and we pulled off of the water. After about 30 minutes I called the ranger station and requested a new camp site because the water was too rough, and the strobe system was activated. The person I spoke to said that the strobes didnt mean to get off the water, but just to stay close to the coast and continue paddling. I told the person that it was not safe to paddle and we got reassigned to another site. (It should be noted that in the ranger station as well as on the literature they give you when checking in says to get off of the water if the stobes are turnd on). We ended up at site 40. The site itself was ok, but not really level. We were a little over a mile to the nearest water point. It was nice to see bathrooms along the trail with trash cans. However the bathrooms were really dirty and unmaintained. I understand it is a wilderness camping spot, but the one bathroom actually had feces covering the floor. The trash cans were nice though.
The wind died down early on 6/22 and we hit the water, paddling back to the boat launch in about an hour in calm water. Over all the site was not too bad, with a great view of the water. The staff was not very friendly , saftey concious or helpful. I felt the advice to just keep paddling close to coast while th strobe alert system was activated was not very wise. We will probably visit again, but will hike in so we do not have to deal with the unpredictable wind ans water conditions. Also his is an active Bear area , so bring bear spray. Also , there was no cell servce by the ranger station , but our phones worked well when out on the water and at the camp site.