Like the previous reviewer, we camped off the Huckleberry Trail. We parked at the summit, descended down and came back up. It was one of the most gorgeous trails I've ever experienced and highly, highly recommend it for a quick weekend backpack.
We did this hike in March and there was a thin layer of snow on the ground when we started that quickly accumulated while we hiked and then overnight as we slept. Quick heads up to be prepared if you're going to do this because I definitely got pretty cold and chickened out without doing the whole trail.
This was the guide we were going to follow: https://www.hikingupward.com/MNF/SpruceKnobSenecaCreek/
The sites along the beginning of the trail are nestled among the spruces and very beautiful if you can't make it too far on your first night. We camped just before mile 5 where you get on the Lumberjack Trail, there are two nice sites there with defined campfires.
These are all backcountry, hike-in sites, so none of your campground amenities, but they're all gorgeous.
Spruce Knob Lake is an established campground at the base of the mountain. It was closed in March when we visited so we couldn't even drive through. If you're going to camp at this campground I would totally recommend doing the Huckleberry Trail at the summit!
Spent the first camping trip of the summer here on Memorial Day weekend and it was a beautiful spot. There are a number of sites set up in a circle, the initial sites are better suited for RVs while the sites along the back of the loop are flatter and can accommodate a tent. This was our first car camping in an actual campground experience in a while - our last few trips were all backcountry sites - and it felt very luxurious. The campground is situated near shooting ranges so the gunfire lasts late into the evening and begins early in the morning disrupting the serenity a bit.
The best part - it's free! Just register at the box. There are vault toilets and each site has a fire ring, picnic table, garbage cans, and there are spots to dump waste water. It's very well-organized and well maintained.
North Harmony State Forest is in Panama, NY, right next to the PA line. While it's not difficult to find the forest, finding the campsites can be a bit tricker. There are right off Snake Forest Road on a trail. There are a couple more sites around a small pond/marsh area called Little Brokenstraw Pond on our map. You have to park at a gate off Wiltsie Road and hike in, but not far. We stayed at one close to the water, so the skeeters were pretty bad - bring bug spray. Had one of my stranger camping experiences in this forest: we saw an horse and buggy go by the campsite, having bypassed the gate. Not too long after, a young man approached our campsite and asked if we wanted to join a party "up around the bend." When we were walking food back to the car we saw a buggy, complete with disco ball, leaving the shindig. Basically, you'll be deep in Amish country and they may throw a rager while you're there. We didn't see anyone else, but it was loud.
Three simple campsites strewn in a circle around Evergreen Pond. The one closest to the road is very suitable for car camping, the other two you need to hike into but neither are very far. I recommend the farther site, it's the best spot. The pond is small, but quaint. We stayed one night right in the middle of summer on a weekend and only ran into 3 other people, none of whom stayed the night with us. Hiked for a few hours (unsuccessfully) attempting to locate Hovey Gully and saw no one. Really an amazing (free!) spot.
Unlike Leonard Harrison, Colton Point on the western rim of the Pine Creek Gorge isn't a tourist hub. The campsites are private and you get to hike in (varying amounts of distance.) The trails aren't built up with steps and the like, but I think the Colton Point Turkey trail is much more manageable even without them. You can connect to the West Rim Trail if you'd like. My only warning is that I managed to get turned around on the trails, nothing too serious, but I recommend a reliable map.
26 campsites in a loop near the primary viewing area for the PA Grand Canyon AKA Pine Creek Gorge. This park is on the east rim and it is definitely the more touristy of the two rim parks, Colton Point being on the west rim. Turkey trail takes you down into the gorge onto the Pine Creek Rail Trail and along the creek. It's a very well maintained trail, so don't be deterred by all the doomsday signage, it's very doable, albeit steep on the way back up.
Gorgeous campsite that we used as our base camp to hike Marcy. Technically, I don't recommend this as there are plenty of sites at the base of Marcy and this is an hour drive away. However, it's an amazing spot and you can't go wrong with anything in the 'dacks. We got unlucky with the weather, but the fog in the lake made for some good pictures. I believe we paid around $30/night for standard no hookup site peak season, but we didn't have neighbors on either side!
^^ We always joke that that every state seems to boast their own version of the Grand Canyon. Well, NY has two: Ausable Chasm and Letchworth.
In short, it's gorgeous. Well worth a trip, especially now before they tear down the railroad bridge. Lots of trails down by the campsites, and the major trail along the gorge for views of all three falls. It's very easy to gain access down into the gorge to get to the base of Upper Falls. Just don't be an idiot and actually go in the water, it's not called the Mighty Genesee for nothing.
I think the previous reviewer got a bit confused - Patterson State Park is a small campground in PA near Cherry Springs State Park. I kind of view it is overflowing camping for the campground there. In that way, it serves its purpose. It has around 8 small, open campsites around a small gravel loop. The sites are a bit too expensive for what you get: limited privacy, no feelings of really being in the woods. But there are bathrooms, water, and a pavilion! There's also a trail head that I believe connects with the STS at some point (We didn't actually start any hikes from this point.) There's a pay station and all sites are first-come first-serve.
I haven't been back to Allegany in some time, but my family frequented the park when I was younger. It's really an amazing place for a family trip since there are cabins! Our family of 6 fit comfortably in one cabin when we were all small. There's beaches, guided nature trails, biking, hiking. Basically, Allegany has it all. Do not miss the thunder rocks, they're really, really enjoyable.
I ALWAYS recommend heading away from state parks and camping in state forests. There's always more privacy and more wilderness. Of course, this is a personal preference! You often miss out on the amenities of state parks; however, blueberry patch has a bathroom! An amazing space if you're looking to transition from public camping to backcountry camping. The trails were VERY muddy when we went so I highly recommend taking your hiking boots. Also, the 10 sites are first come first serve. We were the only ones when we arrived midday but by night they were almost all filled on a summer weekend. Great way to see Watkins Glen without having to camp right next to someone else. Also, there are in fact blueberries! And a great field to see the stars from.
I'm picky when it comes to campsites, but I loved my time at Stony Brook. The hike through the gorge to see all the waterfalls is stunning and can't be passed up. The actual campsite set up is always what gets me, because I prefer to be secluded and remote, which you never get in a state park! However, we were happy with our campsite choice because we did not stay in the typical loop, instead staying at a campsite by the restrooms. Since it's sort on a undesirable location since it's not right on the water, we got to be by ourselves. Overall it was an amazing trip. Only stayed one night due to time constraints, but it was just the right amount of time.
I write this with the caveat that we did not actually spend the night in Cherry Springs State Park. I favor campsites with privacy in the woods, even if they lack the amenities of public campsites. That being said, we did spend the evening on the public viewing field falling asleep under the stars. Sleeping on the field all night isn't actually allowed, so we camped at Little Lyman Vista, which we found on a map of the area. The whole area is very gorgeous and I HIGHLY recommend going for stargazing. If you have flexibility with your dates, try to go on a new moon or a meteor shower!
The area is incomparably gorgeous with so much to do. I really recommend heading to the nature center and following the trails there. The views are gorgeous and you get some great vistas. There's also fishing, kayaking, that sort of thing. Camp store has fire wood and ice. As for the campsites, I'm used to them being a little more secluded and shaded than the one we stayed at. If you're tent camping and booking through reserve america, I HIGHLY recommend perusing the site map for some time to find a site close to the water and farther from the RV ring. That being said, we loved our time there.