In between the our fleeting Adirondack summers and our eternal winters, we are blessed with about fifteen minutes of perfect Autumn. The nights are crisp, the leaves lovely and colorful, and the insects are finally in repose; many like to call it camping weather. The Apollos staff has compiled a list of our favorite places to camp (in no particular order), and we hope you all can enjoy some peaceful time in the Autumnal woods.
10. Marcy Dam Campsites and Lean-tos
These campsites can be quite packed during the weekends and in warmer weather. But during some of the cooler Fall days (especially weekdays), one can make the easy 2.2 mile hike to Marcy Dam to be greeted with the stately presence of Mt. Colden in the distance to the South, it’s Western slope dipping into Avalanche Lake, which gives rise to Avalanche Mountain and the rugged shoulder of Wright peak in the West. The area has a few lean-tos and many campsites strewn about, and at night one can wander out of the canopy and wonder at the mountains sleeping under the stars.
9. Snowbird Campsite
This tiny camp site is located high up in the mountains in the shadows of Basin Mountain and Mount Haystack. It is the highest campsite in the High Peaks, so be prepared for it to get windy and chilly if you spend a night there. The nearest stream is often a mere trickle, so bring a ton of water and restock when you can. The hike in his not an easy one, especially with the weight of camping gear. Despite all of this, the rewards of this site can be worth your suffering. The site is located about one mile from the top of Mt. Haystack; perfect for a sunrise or sunset hike from one of the best views in the Adirondacks.
8. Fish Pond Lean-to
Fish Pond is a beautiful pond located in the The St. Regis Canoe Area. The area is an awesome scattering of streams and ponds that make for a great overnight or multi-day paddling trip. The pond is one of many stops along the “Nine Carries”, which is a classic Adirondack paddling route which runs through the heart of the St. Regis Canoe Area. As the name implies, you can’t exactly paddle leisurely from pond to pond, and to be honest, some of the carries can be, well…brutal. Especially the almost 2 mile carry from Ochre Pond to Fish Pond. However, the carry only makes arriving at one of the gorgeous lean-tos that much more satisfying. Check out a map of the route here: https://www.canoeoutfitters.com/trip-planning/routes/nine-carries-st-regis-canoe-area
Below, you can see the weary happiness in my friends’ eyes. We found much welcomed comfort in the lean-to after we endured a brutal 2 mile May slog through mud and snow while carrying a ninety pound aluminum canoe.
7. Alumni Campground
You may have seen the signs for this spot while travelling down Keese Mill Road and wondered what it was all about. If you are more of a drive-to than hike-to camper, this is the spot for you. The Alumni campground is free for current students, and incredibly affordable for Alumni. There are 7 lean-to sites, 5 of them right next to Lower St. Regis lake, the other two are a little more tucked in the woods. There are also 21 tent sites you can choose from! Each site has a fire pit and grill, the lean-to sites include a picnic table and there are outhouses spread out throughout the campground. If you want a less remote camping experience, but still want to “rough-it” in the outdoors, this is the perfect option! The sites are accessible by car, and you can reserve a site here: https://pscalumnicampground.checkfront.com/reserve/
6. Little Green Pond
Little Green Pond is a small, innocuous pond located in the Fish Creek Ponds area located off Rte. 30, a little bit past Tupper Lake. It may or may not be on this list for sentimental reasons, but it is a nice little place to spend a night in the woods.In the same vein as the Alumni Campground, it hosts plenty of campsites that you can drive right up to to. A few have nice rope swings, and there are fire-pits at most of them. Beware, as the road is a little dicey, so if your car doesn’t have a lot of clearance, drive slow. Stretching along the pond are some old train tracks that make for a nice starry night-time walk.
5. Roaring Brook Falls Campsite
A hidden gem that surprisingly hasn’t been over-run with park visitors, less than a mile up the Giant Mountain trail, the Roaring Brook falls campsite is a special place. Less than 20 feet from the fire-pit you will find a crystal clear steam that drops a total of 325 feet off a 3-tier cliff. The top of this waterfall gives you a stunning view of the Great Range. Though there is no lean-to, this site has a well structured fire pit, plenty of tent space, and great trees for those who prefer a hammock for their camping adventure. A unique highlight of this site is the presence of a large old red oak tree, which isn’t a common find this far north in the park!
4. Seward Lean-to
Located deep in the forest along the Northville-Placid trail, the Seward Lean-to is a great place to escape the noisiness of the daily grind and find a place of solitude and quiet. This picture says it all.
3. Black Pond Lean-to
On the back end of the VIC property, there’s a trail that loops around both Black Pond and Long Pond. Along this trail, there are 3 different lean-to sites that are located further and further away from the roadside. Depending on how far and tucked away you want to be, you can choose which one best fits your mood. The first lean-to is right on the waterfront of Black Pond, on a somewhat peninsula shaped piece of land. The second furthest lean-to is tucked away in the woods a little more, but is next to a boardwalk bridge that offers great fishing opportunity. The third and furthest lean-to is tucked far in the woods, but comes with an old wooden dock on Long Pond. The Black Pond/Long Pond area offers a very special experience, unique to its location. There always happens to be an abundance of loons present in these waters. Their songs echo over the surface of the waters and through the canopies of the trees. If you are a loon-lover, these camping areas are a must!
2. Upper Sargent Pond
Located East of Raquette Lake in the Sargent Pond Wild Forest, Sargent Pond is a lesser known and fairly remote place to camp. However, there is a way you can spice up your camping experience at Upper Sargent. You can be dropped off by plane! If you call Helm’s Aero Service, you can load up a float plane with as much steak, beverages (ahem), and fishing gear as you want for a multi day decadent vacation. Helms will make the flight fun for you, taking you over peaks and waterfalls, and doing some dramatic dive moves to get his kicks as your face contorts a bit with fear. The pond has canoes lounging about at different campsites, and there is an island with ample room for camping as well. The water is loaded with fish, so pack a sharp knife, some foil, and spices and have a good time.
1. Just Go Sleep on a Mountain
Look, it’s going to be cold, and maybe fairly dangerous. We’re not saying you should do it, but were not not saying you should do it. Just do your research, keep it clean, and for legality purposes, just make sure the mountain is no higher than 3500 feet. Layer up, bring warm sleeping bags, lug up as much water as you can handle, and have a blast. There’s just something so free and satisfying about watching the mountain sunset without the worry of a dark descent, and then getting to awake to the pink and golden splendor of an Adirondack sunrise.