Thomas R.

Pro

Washington, DC

Joined August 2020

Car camp in the back of my xTerra with my dog. Prefer quiet, secluded spots on a river or lake without pools, playgrounds, etc.

Meh

This place is not really a campground, it seems to mainly be a seasonal RV resort…in any event, most of the spots were occupied by RVs with things like wooden decks, yard lights, cute little signs, etc. 

The tent sites are large enough, but have zero privacy between them--see photo.

What saved this place from total mediocrity is its location right on the river…while I couldn't see the river from my campsite due to brush, it was clearly audible, which was nice.  In September the river was flowing nicely, and was mainly a bit above my ankles, although there were some pools that looked like they would go up to about mid-thigh (although I didn't go in the find out).  

Firewood sold on-site, and there is a little campstore, although pickings are fairly slim.

Rip-off

*If you like RV resorts and places where people drive around in golf carts, disregard my review, you will  probably love this place

OK, I hadn't planned to stay in an RV resort, but was unpleasantly surprised to find that the two nearby state parks I had hoped to stay at were not accepting campers without reservations in September 2020.  So I was kind of desperate for a place to stay after a long drive.

So I found this place nearby.  They gave me a tent spot for $70 (?!).  About 10 yards to the next campsite in either direction, zero privacy, although luckily all the other tent sites were empty, because I was the only tent camper fool enough to stay here.  The campsite was also right on a road, with vehicles and golf carts whizzing by all the time.  

The place is really more of a cottage/mobile home community, although there were also some RVs while I was there.

The only reason I've given this place two stars instead of one is that it is on Lake Ontario, although of course don't expect to see the lake from your over-priced tent site.  They also don't allow dogs on the beach.  

Probably the worst-value, and worst, place I've ever stayed, for what I was looking for.  Again, if you like RV resorts, please disregard my review, you'll probably love it.

Better than I expected

I had to make a last-minute reservation for a campsite on my drive back from Maine to DC on a Friday night in September, so was a bit worried about finding anywhere decent at all.  This campground was one of the few with any sites available, and I got the second last spot.  So I had pretty low expectations.

Actually this campground is pretty nice--the campsites are of a normal size, with enough rocks and trees between sites to provide a decent amount of privacy.  Again, my campsite was one of the worst, right on the road, but still not too bad.  It would have been pretty decent if every campsite around me hadn't been full, generally with families with a bunch of shrieking kids.  But that's a weekend in September…

There are also a limited number of campsites right on the water.  The lake is nice enough, although much of it is covered in lily pads.

Bathrooms are fine.

No wood for sale on-site, but there are several places nearby to get wood, and any other supplies you need.  The campsite is not exactly remote, I think it was about a 5 minute drive to a gas station with firewood and all manner of supplies.

I would definitely stay here during the week when it might be a bit quieter.

Pretty Nice

This is actually a pretty nice campground as long as you have the right expectations.  

First, most of the campsites are quite nice, with decent amounts of privacy.  Also, when I was there (although it was mid-week in September), the campground was very quiet, even though every site was full.  As a walk-in, I think I got the worst campsite in the campground, and the manager said that I only got that because someone canceled.  I would avoid campsite 14 (the one I had), because the parking spot is about six feet above the camping area, and the camping area is not especially level.  Not an awful site, but it did not work well at all for my usual set up.

Second, although the campground is on the water, don't expect to get a water front spot unless you reserve well in advance, even during the week (from my experience).  There are probably about 5 campsites actually on the water, maybe another 8 or 10 have water views of some sort.  The others are back in the woods.  Nice enough spots, just don't expect water!  The campground also boasts a waterfront site for general use, but frankly it is not very nice--see photo--basically about 100 yards of gravel road, fronted by a man-made bunch of seaweed-covered rocks (by the way, the waterfront campsites are along with this same stretch of gravel road.

There is a bath house with showers and toilets, and portapotties.  Everything was clean.

Pretty Mediocre

Based on the other reviews, I was pretty excited about this campground, but found myself pretty disappointed.

First, this campground is not exactly "on" the Wild River--it is probably 100 yards away through the forest, but I could barely hear the river from my campsite (one of the "riverside" sites) and of course could not see it at all.  There are a couple of small tributaries between the campground and the river, but there were basically dry when I was there in September.  

There are three "riverside" campsites, but one is permanently occupied by the manager, so really there are two.  The sites are large enough, and there is probably 40 yards between campsites, but there is little tree cover, so there is little privacy between these "riverfront" sites--see photos.  I didn't look at the "walk up" campsites, but they seemed to all be up a flight of 10-12 steps from their parking spots.  

I didn't have time to do any extended hikes, but did go down to the river.  The banks are generally 6-8 foot drops to the river bed, with access points here and there, so access to the river is kind of limited near the campsite.  When I was there in September, the river was flowing pretty well, but probably occupied about 20% of the riverbed (the rest being river rock).  

The night I was there, the occupants of campsite 3 were filming some kind of movie involving women gyrating around in the woods at night, not sure what that was all about.  At least they were quiet; the bright lights were a bit obnoxious, but no big deal.

Bathrooms were fine.  $20 seemed like a lot for this campground to me.

Quite nice

I hadnt planned on staying in this campground, but drove by a sign for it and decided to check it out. The campsites are $15 per night and are very well spaced, probably 50 yards apart with lots of trees between, very private. Small campground, I think 19 sites, in one loop. Clean pit toilets and fresh water source. No firewood for sale on-site, but the campground manager (a very nice and helpful couple) told me about a place about 7 miles away that sells very good firewood for $4/bundle.

I was here for three nights, first night (Thursday) very peaceful and quiet, but the next two nights were a bit louder when the families moved into the campground for the weekend.

There is some decent hiking from the campground, one hike of maybe 2 miles (one way) to a reservoir, and another of 3 miles (one way) to the "Falls of Lana" (or something like that), which is really just a cascade, but nice nonetheless.

Wow

This is by far the best campground I've found within a few hours of DC.  I've posted some pix, take a look.

Small, quiet, directly on two streams, one of which is trout-stocked.  I stayed on a Tues-Wed evening during the summer, and was the only person there both nights.  My campsite was the best one, right in the corner where two streams join together.  

The streams were awesome…fast-flowing, ranging from ankle to knee deep.  There are trails from the campground along the streams, with several crossings.

Campground is small--only nine sites total, seven of which are on the streams, two in the interior (about 40 yards from the streams).  Clean cinder-block toilet.  Bear-proof trash cans.  First-come, first-serve, no reservations.

A couple of caveats about this place: 

1) it is small, and according to the manager it is full pretty much every weekend during the summer, so don't count on getting a spot there--plan to arrive early and have a Plan B in case it is full.

2)  For some reason alcoholic beverages are not allowed in this campground.  Not sure how strictly it is enforced, but if you want to bring some beers you should probably be discrete about it.

Parking Lot

This "campground" has all the atmosphere of a Walmart parking lot, except that you have to pay $50 (not a typo) for the privilege.  It is right next to the hotel (Holiday Inn or something?), where you have to go to check in and out, and where there's a restaurant if you don't feel like cooking. 

I've given it two stars instead of one because it is near the highway.

Windy!

I stayed here for two nights during the week in late April 2019.

The weather in late April was generally OK, other than the wind.  The wind was so strong that none of my tent stakes would stay in the sand, and when I was finally able to secure a stake by putting something heavy on it, the wind ripped my guy rope.  Brutal.  I couldn't even start a campfire because the firepit was downwind and very close to my car and tent, and I didn't want them to go up in flames.

I guess the wild horses are OK, but I didn't find them particularly interesting.  They are definitely not very shy--one of them stuck his nose right in my tent.  

I had my dog with me at this campground--IIRC the campgrounds in this park in VA are non-pet friendly, but the campgrounds in MD are pet-friendly (but I might have that backwards, so check their websites to make sure!).

Nice, Quiet

Stayed here for two nights in the middle of the week in the summer of 2019.  I stayed in one of the lakeside sites.

Generally this is a nice campground…not too big and pretty quiet.  I met more people in this campground than all of the others combined, a nice group of folks.   

Downsides are that it is pretty pricey ($40?) and the sites by the lake are not especially private, actually the area is pretty much wide open.  

The lake is nice, and there is nice hiking along the shore.

Nice Location, River

I stayed for two nights in the middle of the week in the summer of 2019, in the lower campsites, near the river.

Generally, this is one of the nicer national park campsites I've stayed in.  I reserved a site near the river in the hope that I'd be able see/access the river from my site, but no dice: the campsite was separated from the river by thick brush and a steep incline, so to get to the river I had to do a little walking.

Even my campsite by the river was fairly private, but I've heard from friends that the sites up on the hill are more private, so I will probably try to stay there next time.

The highlight of my stay here were the hundreds of fireflies around my campsite in the evening…sure, I've seen lots of fireflies in my time, but never so many, it was pretty cool.  

Also, I don't understand why other reviewers have described this place as "hard to find".  Google maps took me right to it, no fuss at all.  The road leading to the campground is really nice.

Crowded, Loud

I stayed here for two nights in the middle of the week in July 2020.  AFAIK all of the campsites here are first-come, first serve, so get here early.  I arrived at about 1:00 pm on a Tuesday, and got the last (worst) site, right next to the campground manager, the entrance, and the toilet.  

Most of the sites here are very close together and provide very little privacy, so when every site is occupied it felt more like a trailer park than a campground.  Between generators running, lots of kids running around, parties in the cabins next door, etc., the site was far louder than my home in the center of DC.  

On the plus side, the campground is right on the AT, so hiking is easy.  I won't be back in the high season, but might go back in the off-season (April, May, Sept, Oct).  This campground closes at the end of October.

Typical National Park campsite

I stayed at Loft Mountain in late October of 2019.  The campground was not very crowded, but not empty either.  This is a large campground, IIRC 200+ sites, so manage your expectations about "getting away from it all", but the campsites generally looked fairly private, although to a greater or lesser degree depending on which site you get.  

I had no real complaints about this site other than that it is too large and not private enough for my taste.