We travel in a 17-foot camper van, but no one ever believes that we are no bigger than a standard cargo van and can easily fit in a regular size parking space. Upon arrival at Ausable Chasm, we were told we had to take a site with water and electric since we had a camper van. These sites were $13 more per night and we really did not need the hookups. We were finally able to convince the staff that we could take a standard tent site, which was more than big enough.
The road through the campground is dirt and rutted but the speed limit is 5 mph, so it wasn’t that bad, but it would be a mess if it was raining.
Bathrooms and shower rooms are individual rooms, but the doors are not labeled so it’s a game of “what’s behind door number 1?” There was no light in the shower room that I looked at so a night shower would be out of the question. The bathrooms were clean and had soap, paper towels, a garbage receptacle, and a mirror in each.
Lots of ant hills throughout the campground so be cautious where you set up a tent. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. Large and nice-looking playground, pool, volleyball net, disc golf and mountain biking/hiking trails. It also looked like there were cross country ski trails but not sure if the campground or cabins would be open in the winter.
Biggest advantage is that Ausable Chasm(a separate business) is directly across the street from the campground and it is very close to the ferry that will take you to Burlington, VT, our next destination.
Smugglers notch was not only beautiful but the campground was one of the best ones I’ve stayed at. We stayed in cherry (leanto) site which was fairly private and big enough for us to set up our 8 person tent. They were pet friendly which is always a plus. The bathrooms were the cleanest ones yet. The staff was friendly and helpful. They make nightly rounds to check on the campers and make sure no one has any questions or concerns. There were trails leading from campgrounds and beautiful views. We had an unforgettable weekend. Would 100% camp there again in the future!
Lonesome Lake hut is one of three AMC huts open year-round. During peak season, your rate includes dinner, breakfast, a bunk with 3 wool blankets. Meals are served family style; if you have food restrictions, let them know when you make your reservation. There's running water in the sinks (peak season) and composting toilets. Bunkrooms are smaller here than at other huts; you'll be sharing a room with 3-6 others and most of the bunks are only two high rather than the triple deckers you'll see elsewhere. During the off-season, a caretaker may start a fire, but you're on your own for meals and bedding. Sit on the deck or down by the lake and enjoy the views, maybe some wildlike. If you're not an AMC member, join and you'll get a discount on the rate while also supporting their work.
It's about 1.6 miles and 1000' elevation gain from Lafayette Place trailhead, making it a family-friendly destination. NOTE: parking at the trailhead is at a premium and you may need to park at the hiker shuttle at Cannon Mountain. If that's the case, drop off the majority of your crew so that only 1 person has to pay the shuttle fee.
In winter the trail is so frequently travelled that you may not need snowshoes, but I would definitely recommend spikes to minimize the risk of sliding on ice. Your reward is a beautiful view (on a clear day) across the notch to Franconia Ridge. The Kinsman Ridge towers over you to the west. If you're bagging 4000-footers, it's great to hike up here in the evening one day and then head up to the ridge for the Kinsmans and Cannon the next, to make it just a little easier.
I discovered this small family-run campground while driving to another one and my curiosity was piqued, so I had to check it out. After a friendly welcome, I was allowed to explore. They offer wooded campsites, some of them along a a brook and others near a pond; There's no boating or swimming in the private pond because of steep sides, but it's stocked and license-free fishing is possible for trout and catfish. The brook runs into the Pemi river. There is also a swimming hole, but I didn't get a chance to explore that.
The 31 sites vary in size, but are reasonably level, no hookups. A clean, bright bathhouse provides toilets and coin-operated showers; a dumpstation is also available for RVs.
The office is also a store with minimal supplies and firewood. Let them know when you plan to arrive and call if you'll be late to hold your site. They're open full-time Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then weekends only through Columbus Day.
It made me sad to think what this campground used to be (either that or the website was terribly misleading, however, since the property is for sale, I am thinking that it may have fallen on hard times).
I called a week ahead to make sure there would be space. Heath, the owner, called back later the same day, very apologetic that it took him so long to return my call (less than a day did not seem to be too long to me). He assured me there was space, so we made our plans. We did not plan on arriving after dark, but we did, having had too much fun admiring the fall color. I called ahead to let Heath know we would be arriving late and left a message (it took three different phone numbers to reach an answering machine). No one was there when we arrived. It was challenging in the dark, but we found two open spaces and backed into one of them. We were not able to use the electrical connection as it required both input and output 30 amp connections and we need a 110 for one of the connections.
I was so tired that, despite the heavy road noise from Route 2, I fell asleep shortly after 9 pm. However, we were woken out of a sound sleep at around 2 am to the sounds of a woman shouting loudly and angrily (at her kids, husband, someone). This went on for a few minutes and no one sounded in distress and then all was quiet again. Even the road noise had subsided.
The bathrooms were small but reasonable. There was a laundry area and a game room/lounge, stocked with a pool table, couch and chairs, books, (recent) newspapers, and games. There was also an above-ground pool and a separate tent area. Cell service was strong and WiFi is available, but we did not use as we did not have the password.
RV sites were$35 and tent sites were$25, cash or check only. The next morning, we checked the office again and it was still locked up with no trace of anyone having been or being around. There was no place to leave the money and we never heard back from Heath, so we left. There could be so much potential to this conveniently located campground and I hope that someone is able to revive it.
As far as the individual sites go, they are fairly standard. Roomy enough with a picnic table and fire ring and most are reasonably spaced far enough apart with trees to provide privacy. However, the noise from Highway 93 is intolerable! 18-wheelers blowing by at all hours of the day and night, making it very difficult to enjoy a restful sleep. I had reserved site 46 because it was across the street from the Pemigewaset River but I could not hear the river over the highway noise. You can hear the highway noise from all the sites, but I think 33, 34, and 35 are the quietest. The Lonesome Lake Trail runs right through the campground which is good news/bad news. Easy access to the trail but there are a number of sites that directly border the trail, which could impede privacy. No cell service. There is a store, and two restrooms with pay showers; one of these also has a dishwashing sink, and washer and dryer, a nice perk. Franconia Notch State Park has a lot to offer and this campground is centrally located. If it wasn’t for the horrible highway noise, I would give this campground 4 stars; however, it is the ONLY campground in the park, so I guess that’s that!
I went to this campground in both 2017 and 2018. We had a great time here for fall camping, we were able to drive up and get a site that day. The waterfront sites are the best and unfortunately we were unable to get one of these sites (though our friends did). The campground is easy access to Franconia Notch and Lincoln. The bathhouse was clean. As stated in previous reviews, staff is friendly, but also particular about the rules and the showers are a little more expensive than average. Overall good campsite and would recommend it.
This is the best of car camping - you get the feel of really being out in the woods, with your car a short distance away. They provide wheelbarrows for easy moving of your stuff, and the campsites are super clean and well organized. We stayed at campsite 6 and loved waking up to the sound of the stream down the embankment. We’d definitely stay here again!
Stillwater State Park in Groton VT is a delightful retreat, nestled on the shores of Lake Groton. The campground has a mix of lean-tos and tent sites. There are waterfront, waterview, and regular sites. Depending on the site booked, the price can vary by a few dollars. I made a short notice reservation, and we managed to score a waterfront site that someone else had cancelled.
Having our own personal shoreline was wonderful. I was camping with a group of 12-14 year old girls. They enjoyed sitting on the large rocks, watching the ducks and fish in water. We also brought kayaks, which were fun to launch from our site. Our site(site 8) had two fire pits--an older, stone hearth one, and the newer round metal type with a grill. We ended up using the stone hearth to store wood and supplies, and primarily cooked over the round fire pit. The site was large enough for an 8 person tent, a 4 person tent, and a whole bunch of bikes.
We were within easy walking distance of the beach and pavilion. The girls mostly biked everywhere. There is even a nice path through the woods to the local camp store. This was very helpful the first morning when I discovered the bowls had been left at home! The prices at the camp store are reasonable, and they sell many essentials, including ice cream!
The lake water was beautiful and clear. There was enough sand at the camper beach for sand castles and other beach games. We did see a few leeches here and there--none right at the swimming area, but more to the side, close to the vegetated areas.
Stillwater's bathrooms were clean, and there were enough bathhouses that it was never far to one. On our second day, there was an interpretive program at the the pavilion. The ranger led visitors in making bark boats out of materials found in the park. The project was a great idea, as the kids could test their boats right there in the lake. Our group had varying degrees of success, but all the girls agreed it was a super fun activity.
We stayed at the campground on a busy weekend when every site was booked. I was impressed by how quiet the campground ones considering the number of people. The resident campground staff do a good job patrolling to keep things quiet. He even came and check on us because the girls were a little too loud!
In trying to come up with a list of cons, I am having trouble! It was a very positive experience. My only piece of advice would be to make sure you bring the right provisions. This area of VT is 25-30 minutes from any type of grocery store. There is the camp store, but their stock is limited. Just FYI. Also, there is cell service near the water, but it is very inconsistent. Generally, I like limited service since leaving technology is one of the things I love about camping!
Overall, a highly recommended camground. If you have a certain week you want to camp, make sure you book early in the spring, otherwise you might have to wait for a cancellation like I did. The proximity to hiking, boating, swimming, and biking in Groton State Forest makes this a very popular summer campground.
As a Ranger for the The Dyrt, I periodically am given gear to review. This trip, I was stoked to review gear from Banner and Oak. I tested out their women's Pathfinder hat during this trip. I selected it because it had lighter colors, while still looking stylish. I was not disappointed! This hat is structured enough to stand up to abuse and still look good. It is a more feminine riff on the tradition trucker hat style. The back is made out of a stiff mesh, while the front is made of cotton duck fabric. It adjusts with the classic plastic tab system on the back. I loved this hat! It is perfect for throwing on over a braid or pony tail on those messy-hair camping days. It also hides dreaded "helmet hair" after biking. It is now a permanent part of my outdoor gear kit. My 12 year old daughters want their own, and keep wearing mine.
The one area I see room for improvement is in the plastic mesh back. I felt it could be a bit softer, but overall found it comfortable. Definitely check out Banner and Oak if you are looking for solid options for hats!
Decent campground with pretty good amenities (camp store, showers, actual flushing toilets). Only disappointment was that the campsites themselves are way closer together than advertised on the pictures on the website. They also have very little trees or cover in between them, which leaves them relatively open and exposed to other sites.
Overall good experience though. We really enjoyed having the river/creek right near to our site to give us some nice white noise. We would stay there again, but might look into some other campgrounds if we had the option.
Nice family campground nestled in between route 15 and the lamoille River. Great car accessible tent sites right on the water and plenty of amenities that the kids will love. We'll stocked camp store and two pools. It can get a bit noisy due to the proximity to the highway, but it's still a good option for car camping in this part of Vermont.
High up on a hillside. The prime lean tos have great views. Sites for tents offer some set away but further from water and toilet. Other sites closer, but also closer together. Firewood available. Take a walk to the picnic pavilion which has a great view. Trail around Slack Hill has view of Ascutney. Pavilion and some shelters look over to Kiliington. CCC trail cuts through. Ash and maple woods. Clean, well kept.
This campground is easy to navigate. It’s family friendly with a large field for volleyball, badminton, etc…
Nice and relaxing. Right next to Quechee Gorge where you can hike down to the gorge and go swimming or just sit on the rocks in the sun. Very relaxing and fun!
Right in the middle of Franconia notch; you can get to many trails from here; and there's a bike path that's paved, so is good for kids as well
Kettle Pond State Park is located in Marshfield, VT only 30 minutes from our home, yet going there still managed to feel like a retreat. We booked a group site with a couple other families for August back in the winter. We were thrilled when the weather ended up being perfect for camping. Low 80s during the day, and 60s at night, without any rain. A few of the mornings, the kids even swam before breakfast because the water was warm enough that it was warmer than the cool morning air temperature!
The group sites all have 5-6 lean-tos, with each lean-to having privacy and its own fire ring with grill. In addition, each group site has a large, community fire pit, picnic tables, and out house. Our group site (which was labeled Group Site 12-15) also had direct access to the camper kayak/canoe launch on Kettle Pond.
Kettle Pond State Park also has about 12 remote paddler campsites, most of which are lean-tos. All the campers that stay in the group area and the remote sites launch their boats from the launch that was within our group site. This meant we had a little less privacy than the other group sites, and that we had cars rolling down to the water to drop off boats, but overall, the disruption was minimal. We enjoyed being that close to our boats and swimming for the kids.
This state park also was conveniently located with an access trail to the Cross Vermont Trail. The Cross VT trail is a multi-use bike path that travels much of the width of VT on old farm roads, snowmobile trails, railroad beds, and occasional roads. We took a half day bike trip on it one day to go to the town of Marshfield to visit Rainbow Sweets, home of some of the best French pastries in Vermont. We biked through marshland, seeing Great Blue Herons and other wildlife. We passed by a waterfall, and even stopped at a little farm stand to buy pickles. There were so many fun things to discover! Via the Cross VT trail, you can also travel to other state parks in the Groton State Forest, such as Boulder Beach (excellent lake swimming with sand, playground, and picnic areas), Ricker Pond, and Owl's Head.
Kettle Pond State Park is primitive. There is not ANY running water. The running water is accessed by going to New Discovery Campground, which is is about 3 miles down the road. New Discovery is also where you check in for Kettle Pond. So bringing several large water vessels is important so you can pick up plenty of water, or bring a water filtration system so you can use water from the pond.
So, the jewel of Kettle Pond State Park is really Kettle Pond itself. It is a glacially-carved shallow pond. I was pleased to discover that the bottom of the pond was not mucky at all, as it is all ground of rock silt and rocks. The kids especially enjoyed their time swimming in it at all hours of the day. We also spent lots of time in boats, exploring the pond. The park does not allow any motorized boats on the pond, so it is extremely peaceful and serene. Wild life abounds here, including fish, beavers, and loons. One evening, during a sunset paddle, we got to float alongside a loon family, which was VERY cool.
The lean-tos were in great condition. The floors were flat and easy to sweep out. The overhang was large enough to hang a hammock under. We did not bring mosquito netting for the opening, and the bugs were hardly noticeable. All the lean-tos are far enough apart that you can't hear your neighbor's snoring, which was a plus. However, one night during our stay, a new group arrived at the group site next door. We couldn't even see them, but we could hear them way too late at night, even past the quiet hours. That was only one night, however, and then the next day the campground staff heard and dealt with it promptly. The bathroom was clean, and always stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Biking on the Cross Vermont Trail
Sunset and Sunrise paddles
Biking in the campground loops
Enjoying the large group fire pit
Night time loon calls
Playing games at the large group picnic tables
Things to consider:
- Bring a way to filter water, or large containers for getting water at New Discovery
- Definitely rent or bring boats
- Transporting firewood from outside VT is illegal
- The gate is always closed, but never locked (but it looks locked!)
- Bring water and biodegradable soap for hand washing
INH540 Vertical Hang Bike Rack Review
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I was given an opportunity to review this rack from INNO while camping. As a family of 7, we have a ton of bikes to haul. We were able to test out the rack with several different bike frame styles and sizes.
The initial impressions of the rack were great. The rack is designed to fit two different sizes (1 1/4 inch and 2 inch) of hitch receivers. They allow for the 2 different sizes by using metal sleeve that slides over the smaller metal pipe. We have a 2 inch hitch, and so used the rack with the adapter. My husband was super impressed by how easy the rack was to install. The rack installs solidly and securely on the hitch without needing additional tools (a big plus in our minds!).
Ones the rack is installed, you flip the arm up to load the bikes. There are two arms on the rack. The beauty of this rack is that only the upper arm goes through the frame of the bike. Basically, the frame hangs off of the top arm, and then the lower bar of the bike rests on the lower arm. The bike is held into position by a cambered, rotating plastic ratchet-type strap that tightens on to any sized frame. So far, this attachment system seems more durable and universal than the stretchy rubber-type bike straps used by other racks.
The rack holds 4 bikes total. It holds our two adult sized mountain bikes quite well--each one takes just a couple of minutes to load on. However, it is a bit more of a struggle to load the 24 inch kids bikes on, as their bars and frame geometry are tighter. This requires a bit more messing around and adjusting. So smaller bikes take a bit more time to load--probably 5 minutes per bike.
Once the bikes are loaded, there are velcro straps to hold the front wheel rigid, which prevents it from rubbing on the other bikes during transit. There is a locking cable mechanism built into the rack, which is great for longer trips. The rack also has a foot-pedal activated tilt-down feature for accessing your trunk, which is awesome, and easy to use.
When the bikes are unloaded, you can collapse the swing arm of the rack, giving it a lower profile if you don't want to remove it from the car.
Our overall impression of this rack is great. The components are all super-sturdy. The aluminum framing of it is rigid, but not too heavy. The rubberized frame contact points where the bike sits really help keep the bikes stable. We like the included tools, with the storage bag. This makes it way easier to have what you need. Nothing like looking for a tool when you really need it! The rack is a great way to carry mountain bikes for camping, riding, or local recreation.
The one improvement we would make would somehow make it adjustable for smaller framed bikes, but we know that might not be possible! In the meantime, we still use it for smaller framed bike, and it works fine, just takes a little longer to load. It is a keeper, for sure!
Stayed here for 3 nights. Everyone was so helpful and very nice. "Good morning friends!" They brought our firewood right to us and even recommended a place to get great pizza on a rainy night. There is a trail from the campgrounds to see the beautiful gorge. They also had very clean bathrooms too. We will definitely be back.
Campground Review: Beech Hill Cabins and Campground
I’ve camped at many of the campgrounds in the Twin Mountain, NH area and wanted to try a new spot. Beech Hill Campground did not disappoint with its large wooded campsite and numerous campground amenities at a fair price. You have to call to make reservations and can’t see the sites, but there aren’t many sites I wouldn’t want (3& 4 are small sites just across from a street light; a few others had slopes or a lot of roots). I was along Blueberry Lane, one of the roads on either side of the power line and all the sports areas(basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, shuffleboard) with some park benches and a view of Mt Washington). You may borrow equipment at the store.
The sites are often narrower at the road (but still wide enough to make backing a trailerRV in easy) and then open up to a spacious site. There’s enough low growth under the trees that although you are aware of your neighbors, you’re not on top of each other. I was there on an early August weekend and the campground was not close to full. It was quiet and folks were friendly. There are a large number of seasonal sites in areas separate from the rest of the campers that are generally well maintained and neat. They also have some cabins and a park unit (see their photos on the website as I didn’t get to see the insides). Full hookups including cable will run $50/night.
Laundry, bathrooms with showers, and a dishwashing sink are in a building near the entrance. Bathrooms are clean, if worn. They’ve been recently painted; the caulking/edges show their age more. Other amenities include an indoor heated pool, outdoor chess and checkers, a game room with air hockey, pool, and arcade games, and an outdoor playground. Saturday evenings there may be ice cream sundaes for a small fee; check their calendar for special events.
The store is well stocked with everything from camping supplies, ice, and firewood to knick knacks, snacks, and maps. They also sell some campfire grills, which could be helpful if you’re cooking over a fire; the fire rings do not have grills. There’s a gated entrance, so you need to check in before the camp store closes on your first night. There will be a $20 cash deposit for the access card, refundable when you return the card. My cell phone had 2-3 bars 4G on Verizon.
Product Review: Banner& Oak Freedom Hoodie in Heathered Black
As a Ranger for The Dyrt I sometimes get to review equipment. Just before I headed out on this camping trip I received a Banner& Oak Freedom Hoodie in heathered black. I was grateful for the cool evenings and mornings so I could try this out. I usually wear a women’s large, so I ordered this in a medium and the fit was perfect, coming down over my waist and wrists. I like the length, but if you’re shortwaisted, you may find it is too long. The fabric is super soft and lightweight, not bulky.
When I put my hands in the pockets I discovered the left pocket had an~1 1/2” hole where the stitching didn’t join the front and back of the pockets. It was high enough that I wasn’t too worried about losing something through the hole, but I did make a point not to put my keys in that pocket; I’ll be running it through the sewing machine. The graphics are simple light gray lettering. It’s 60% cotton/40% poly, so you won’t want to rely on it for a hiking trip, but for hanging around a campsite, it's perfect!
Pristine facilities, private camp sites and a beautiful area. Smuggler's Notch is close enough to Stowe to not be a hassle to drive to, but far enough away that it's quiet and remote. The staff was helpful and very good about controlling excessive noise from other sites. You are minutes from some amazing hiking, which is great when you don't feel like driving long distances after a day hike. Excellent showers (coin operated) and bathroom facility. Reserve early, as this place doesn't have a ton of sites and it folds up quickly!