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!!!
First, it is a state park so it has many of the things you would expect like a beach area, picnic areas, playground, volley ball, pavilion, etc. We went out of season so there were no lifeguards, or anything “open” at the pavilion. We are always after campgrounds with as little going on as possible other than the nature so this would not be a place for us during the summer when I imagine it gets quite packed. There are about 50 camp sites but many of them, from 1 to 30ish are wide open with ZERO privacy. That said, it’s great for large groups that book a few sites next to each other. There were 3 groups during our stay. Which got pretty loud if you were in sites in the 30s. Starting there, sites get more separated and a wee bit secluded. There are only 4 dog friendly sites, which we need. They are 42-45. Be careful with site 44, no good place for a tent. The other are nice. There is one spot for showers and bathroom. They were really clean. Same for dishwashing facility. So depending on what you’re looking for, it has something for you. Like I mentioned, we like quiet spots so the fact that it has the potential to be too loud in peak times meant 4 starts from me.
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.
Enjoyed a great weekend at Stokes State Forest. We stayed at the campsite at Lake Ocquittunk Area. Campsite was very spacious and had a platform where we were able to fit two tents. There was plenty of space on the site for more tents. Site came with bear proof bin for garbage and fire ring. Very comfortable site, quiet but still with plenty of amenities. Bathrooms and shower were all single stall and very clean, only a 5 min walk from our site. Two water sources nearby as well. We didn’t have direct views of the lake, but were within a minute walk to some quiet views of the lake. Also the location is amazing; there are trail heads near the campsites and longer trails, including access to the Appalachian Trail within a short 10-15 minute drive. You can also rent kayaks and SUP at the main office. Highly recommend Stokes.
Great park with large enough campsites. Bathrooms were clean, showers were ok, could use a little bleach. We were at site 52 and had to drive to the bath house because it was so far, but we didn’t mind. Mosquitos were terrible. Water taps scattered around campground. We were drinking the water right out the tap but by our 4th day there were new signs to boil the water before drinking. We figured since we had been drinking it so long and felt fine we were ok so we didn’t boil our last day.
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.
Spent the weekend camping with friends and we really enjoyed our time at Clarence Fahnestock. We were lucky our site was secluded from everyone else and we were surrounded by lots of trees. They also have community sites if that’s your thing. The bathrooms were fairly clean but only 2 stalls so sometimes got a bit crowded. The beach across the way was great and had its own bathrooms and a small concession stand. Overall very pleased and would definitely go back.
Been camping here for 4 seasons. The management is very helpful and willing to help with even the smallest of requests. Great for RV and tent camping. There’s a pond stocked with 2-3 types of fresh water fish. They offer seasonal camping and a game room with a small general store.
This was our first time camping and it was a success. Sites had room to move and it was quiet and peaceful. Kids had lots of fun on the free kayaks and pool. Staff was friendly and helpful. Campgrounds have lots of hills so be prepared to hike up and down.
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
I would definitely recommend this campsite to anyone wanting a beautiful, remote setting, but with all of the conveniences that the campgrounds offer. Anyone from a beginner to an expert would enjoy Stokes. Whether it be just a short, relaxing weekend trip or an adventure-packed week long trip, this place has the potential to be whatever you make it.
Has the perfect balance of feeling secluded without feeling completely alone in the middle of nowhere; the campsite we were specifically on was just far enough to be remote-feeling and fully private with trees surrounding it
Cute little pond right on the campgrounds
Our site had a fire ring, a picnic table, and a large sturdy pole with a hook for your lantern/mesh dry bag/etc
Even, rocky, yet soft enough ground to sleep on, many trees available for hammock camping
There was a huge, nasty storm one night that we stayed there, with terrible downpour and flash flood warnings, our site was elevated and did not get flooded
A lot of firewood and kindling in the area to be gathered, or you can buy firewood right from the office
Lots of stuff to do in the area for nature-lovers and outdoors-enthusiasts (Hiking trails, fishing/fly-fishing, sightseeing, mountain-biking, kayaking/paddle-boarding (rentals in the area if you do not own), hunting, swimming, horseback riding, waterfall-hunting, bird/wildlife watching (there are hawks, rabbits, owls, deer, toads, snakes, turtles, frogs, foxes, bats, salamanders, many interesting bugs, beavers, and bears in the area, you never know what you will see), lots of beautiful brooks and streams throughout the entire park, many awesome remote areas to set up your hammock and relax) Whoever said that there wasn't much to do here is just either not an outdoors person or straight up lying!
Water and dumpsters are within walking distance, or if you are not up to walking you can just take a short drive to fill up and dispose of your trash
There are outhouses scattered around, or if you are really needing a clean restroom where you can wash your hands, the park office's restroom is always open and very clean
Can be buggy at night time however, I was pleasantly surprised to have experienced zero mosquito bites and ZERO ticks on ourselves and even our dog (however she did have a leech on her from playing in the brook all day). We moderately used bug spray on ourselves and the dog had her flea and tick topical on.
Beautiful view of the stars on a clear night (Which can be breathtaking especially to city folk or those that cannot see stars from their homes)
Can hear the traffic from 206, but generally gets much quieter at night
Campsites are close enough that you may occasionally hear other groups if they are being very loud (We were next to a group campsite that had a very noisy party crowd, but could really only hear them at their loudest, and we weren't bothered)
Tent sites are located just off the dirt road where people travel to get to their sites, which means other campers' cars will occasionally pass right through your area. If this bothers you, be sure to book a site as far back as possible. Ex: Site T137 should have no vehicle traffic but your own and is the most remote of that area
Water fill stations can be a bit busy at certain times
Our fire ring rack was bent, but luckily we came prepared with our own rack to place on top of it and it worked out
Lots of poison ivy in the area, if you are not immune to it be very mindful of where you are stepping!
Our neighbor warned us that they got a flat tire after arriving at their campsite, and after searching their site found a bunch of nails almost intentionally thrown about. It's not the park's fault and the rangers were made aware of it. Carefully check your site after arriving for anything out of place and report to the office if necessary to keep these campsites safe and enjoyable.
Points of interest nearby the campsite:
Big Flat Brook - A beautiful babbling brook that runs all throughout the area. Has great fly fishing for stocked rainbow trout. Access to the brook was only a short but beautiful hike north from our site through some thistle fields and woodlands.
Buttermilk falls (Tallest waterfall in NJ), Tillman Ravine, Dingmans Ferry/Falls, and my personal favorite, Silver Spray Falls - Multiple gorgeous waterfalls and ravines just waiting to be explored, all within ~15-20 min by car. I definitely recommend checking them out while you are camping here especially if you live far away from the area.
Sunrise Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain - Catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset on top of Sunrise Mountain, which is a pleasant, scenic car ride directly to the top where there is a small parking lot, a smelly outhouse, and a nice picnic table area with a great view. Rattlesnake Mountain is a part of the Appalachian Trail and is somewhat barren towards the top which makes for excellent views. Like its name, it's not uncommon to see many snakes in the area, rattlesnakes tend to hang out on the top and sunbathe on the rocks. Keep your pets on a leash and have a stick handy just in case, however, they will leave you alone if you keep your distance.
Lake Ashroe, Stony Lake, Lake Ocquittunk - Many lakes for multiple activities in the area such as fishing (trout stocked waters), kayaking, swimming (Stony lake has a beach area with lifeguards, restrooms, and picnic areas. Check their website for more info.)
Horseback riding - A few great horseback riding places nearby, some offering trail rides through the beautiful park.
Appalachian Trail - The widely-known Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only trail in the world, that runs all the way from Maine to Georgia goes right through this area. You may run into very interesting people from all over who are thru-hiking the AT.
PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR VISIT. LEAVE NO TRACE. KEEP OUR PARKS BEAUTIFUL. THANK YOU.
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.