Sleeping in the Woods

North-South Lake Campground in the Catskills

When I walked Grace to the bus stop this morning, it was a breezy 48 degrees. Not exactly the kind of weather that makes you think about sleeping under the stars or swimming in a mountain lake. Nevertheless, I’ve reserved our site at two different campgrounds in two different states in anticipation of warm summer nights, crackling campfires and sticky s’mores, and the rustle of wind and animal noises outside our little tent.

Last summer, thanks to my friend Hatti, we discovered North-South Lake, a state campground in Haines Falls (near Saugerties) in the Catskill Mountains. (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24487.html). Hatti is a naturalist and fairly intrepid outdoors-person. She and her 8-year old daughter Emma have hiked, canoed and camped in the Adirondacks for several years and she is perfectly willing, with the right equipment and companions, to leave the car behind and trek into the woods for a few days. I, on the other hand, prefer a campground that has flush toilets and space for my car, if for no other reason than it’s a secure place to store food away from prying paws.

In June, Grace and I set off for the Catskills, taking the slower scenic route along Route 9/9W that we favor over the Thruway. I was excited about the bike rack I had just purchased and was looking forward to seeing Hatti and Emma. Grace couldn’t wait to practice her newly acquired skill of riding a 2-wheeler. Although the weather was cool and wet the first day, there was much to enjoy.

I loved that the sites were large, wooded, and fairly private. I loved that there was an indoor nature program on a rainy afternoon and that we could rent a kayak, canoe, peddle or rowboat for a very reasonable price the next day when the sun emerged. I loved how clean the bathrooms were!

Grace and I returned to North-South Lake over Labor Day weekend, this time with our good friends James and Viera. The nights in early September were cold, but the days sunny and warm, if not hot enough for swimming. The campground is surrounded by wonderful hiking trails, from the short, easy trek to the site of the former Catskill Mountain House to the more difficult, but doable-for-children hike alongside Kaaterskill Falls. The Falls’ two tiers, at 85’ and 175’, are the highest in New York State and are definitely worth experiencing.

North-South Lake is one of the most popular campgrounds in the New York State parks system and fills up fast. If you’re thinking about camping this summer, or even Labor Day weekend, you may want to reserve now. A little tip on the side: our favorite place to buy camping equipment is Campmor.com. This company sells quality products, and our orders have been accurate and delivered on time.

If you want to check out other campgrounds in the Catskills, our friend Craig recommends Little Pond State Campground near Andes, New York (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24478.html). He has camped there with his wife and two daughters. He reports that “it’s very beautiful, has a small lake for canoeing with a designated swimming area, and lots of bullfrogs.”

Craig notes that there are also trails for hiking, and the only downside is the presence of bears in the area. However, there have been bear sightings at North-South Lake too, and if you lock away all your food as well as anything scented (toothpaste, deodorant, hair products, etc), the bears and other creatures will likely keep their distance.

In August, Grace and I will be off on another adventure: a road trip to North Carolina where we will camp with my parents near Ashville. Summer is not long off, and we are looking forward to languid days and starry nights in our little home away from home.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Sleeping in the Woods

  1. John Wrynn

    Nice blog Denise! How old is Grace?

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