Five campgrounds you don't want to miss this summer
Hamilton County is home to what may seem like endless camping opportunities. So much so, that it can be hard to choose one that fits your idea of a camping experience, be it the best basecamp for a hiking trip, or a campsite with easy access to a few different fishing areas. In the heart of the Adirondacks, Hamilton County has communities distinct in their recreation offerings, and that includes the campgrounds you can find around them. Check out these five state campgrounds, all unique in their own way, each having something for every camper looking for a true Adirondack experience.
Lake Eaton Campground in Long Lake
Shallow waters, a sandy beach, and some of the best sunrise and sunset views of any campground in the Adirondacks. That’s what you can expect from Lake Eaton Campground, just a stone’s throw from Long Lake and its storied general store, Hoss’s Country Corner. Journey the five minutes to Hoss’s from the campground to stock up on supplies for campfires, fishing along the shallow shoreline by your campsite, and a summer-time hiking adventure. Speaking of, did you know Hamilton County has five publicly accessible, mountain-top fire towers? Look closely from your lakeside site and you’ll spot the shiny tower on top of Owl’s Head Mountain. Head over to the trailhead just a few miles away, and hike the three miles to the top where you’ll have fun spotting Lake Eaton, other fire tower peaks like Blue Mountain, and Long Lake, which seems to peek through the hills and forest nearly everywhere you look. If you happen to continue hiking other fire towers in the area, keep track, and register once you've hike them all in Hamilton County to receive your Fire Tower Challenge patch.
Lake Durant Campground in Blue Mountain Lake
A favorite for both thru-hikers on their journey along the Northville-Placid Trail, and those who love clean campgrounds with top-notch amenities, Lake Durant Campground is located at the heart of the Adirondacks’ most historic, scenic, and wild trails. Blue skies? Try your hand at hiking Blue Mountain, a fairly strenuous stretch of trail that leads to commanding views of the surrounding lake-dotted landscape. If you’re looking to hike right from the campground, you could head south from the campground to Stephen’s Pond lean-to for lunch, or north and across the road to Tirrell Pond for a swim. It’s north shore is home to a stellar little backcountry beach, and the four mile hike to this spot is well-worth it. It’s a truly magical experience. The campground is a perfect basecamp for rainy day adventures in town too. Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain, has world-class exhibitions and events dedicated to all things Adirondack history and culture. Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts is another option for outdoor and indoor activities, with concerts, workshops, and galleries for everyone’s enjoyment. Lake Durant Campground is quite close to the perfect balance of true wilderness experience and front-country fun.
Indian Lake Islands Campground in Indian Lake
Accessible only by boat, Indian Lake's island and lakeside sites are surreal in their sense of solitude. While it’s a popular camping destination, once you leave the boat launch you register at, you have access, be it motorized or paddle-powered, to a seemingly never-ending stretch of water, and spacious, wooded campsites that set you far away from the mainland. Motorized recreationists can explore every corner of Indian lake, angling for one of several species of fish, or the perfect cove to drop anchor and go for a swim. Avid paddlers can also venture to Lewey Lake, which is connected to Indian Lake, and find the mouth of the Miami River. Lewey, and the few miles of navigable paddling upstream on the Miami, are incredibly scenic, with views of Snowy Mountain’s dramatic summit cliffs, among other of the West Canada Lakes’ lofty summits. If you’re looking for some faster water, you’re in luck, since Indian Lake is the whitewater epicenter of the Adirondacks. A guided whitewater rafting trip through the Hudson Gorge is the adventure of a lifetime, and a unique way to experience the upper reaches of the roaring Hudson River. You can enjoy the same stretches of water while on land too, taking a short drive to the OK Slip Falls trailhead and hiking to one of the tallest waterfalls in the entire Adirondack Park.
Sacandaga Campground in Hope
Sure, lakeside sites are what comes to mind when you think of camping in the Adirondacks, but having a campground situated alongside a winding river is something special. At the Sacandaga Campground, nearly every site is riverside, or within quick walking distance. It’s a peaceful, quiet part of the park, and the sound of the river running by will lull you to sleep just as the loons do at the lakeside sites mentioned earlier. Staying here means you’re within striking distance of several waterfalls that are part of the Adirondack Experience Waterfall Challenge. There are five in Wells, and two in Benson, which just so happen to stand guard just north and south of Sacandaga Campground. Mid-summer, when water levels are low, a fun yet challenging hike 20 minutes from camp takes you along the west branch of the Sacandaga River to Cold Brook Falls. Easier hikes like Auger Falls and Tenant Creek Falls can be done by themselves, or combined with some other waterfall hikes, since they’re family friendly and close by! There’s a reason that this area has its own waterfall challenge, and the Sacandaga Campground is a springboard for discovering why.
Eighth Lake Campground in Inlet
If you’re looking for a fantastic fishing getaway, the Eighth Lake Campground is all you could ever ask for. Despite the name, the campground actually extends between both Seventh and Eighth Lakes, with water access to both. Rainbow and lake trout are popular target fish here, so getting some smelt imitations and trolling around for a few hours can make for a relaxing, sometimes exhilarating, day. In the heart of the campground, a trail leading west puts you at Eagle Nest and Bug Lakes. While the brook trout bite with frequency here, these are some super salmon ponds. Search for the primitive campsite on the far spot of Bug Lake, it's the perfect point for shore fishing on a summer day. If you’re staying a while, bringing your boat to nearby Raquette Lake, the largest natural Adirondack lake, will open up stellar smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing adjacent to its rocky shorelines and remote bays. Enjoying the water in other ways is easy in this area, and checking out the historic W.W. Durant Cruise and Dine, especially during Durant Days on Raquette Lake, is just one of those ways!
If you find yourself by a campfire, enjoying the night sky at any of these pristine Adirondack Park camping areas, be respectful of the land, water, and wildlife around you. Practicing Leave No Trace principles will ensure that all others who come to enjoy these Adirondack campgrounds will have the same great experience as you.