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Last month, we explored where to camp near NYC at an amazing Mappy Hour at Paragon Sports. The night was led by New York State Guide Henri de la Vega, founder of West Mountain Guide Co. who highlighted camping spots that don’t require you to backpack in.
Here are our top 4 spots for camping near New York City listed in order of proximity to Manhattan.
Gateway National Recreation Area
“If you’re looking for a hyper-local campsite that’s accessible without a car, then look no further than Gateway National Recreation Area. The area extends to Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. Currently, the Sandy Hook campground is the only official campsite open for reservations. Highlights include fire pits at every site and a quick walk to the beach. You can take the ferry from the city and it only costs $30 for a site. If you’re planning ahead, get excited for the return of Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field Campground next summer.” – Sarah Knapp, Mappy Hour Founder
Clarence Fahnestock State Park
“This park offers a bunch of beautiful drive up campsites. Only a 1.5h drive from the city it is also accessible by taking the Metro-North to the village of Cold Spring and taking a cab the rest of the way (I recommend making cab arrangements ahead of time).
Fahnestock offers hiking around Pelton Pond, access to the famous Appalachian trail and boat rentals to explore Canopus Lake. The best map for this area is New York New Jersey Trail Conference map 103 – Fahnestock.” – Henri de la Vega, West Mountain Guides
From the campground you are a short hike away from legendary views of the Hudson Valley from the Escarpment. Check out Artist Rock, Inspiration Point or the Catskill Mountain House Site (to name a few). The best map for this area is the New York New Jersey Trail Conference Map 141 Northeastern Catskills which offers a large map of the area as well as a zoomed in map of the North/South Lake area.” – Henri de la Vega, West Mountain Guides
“Ferncliff Forest is an interesting spot because it’s not actual public land – even though the public is welcome to visit for free. The historic Game Refuge and Forest Preserve offers over 200 acres to explore and is managed by a non-profit. To book, you email the ranger in advance and make a donation via Paypal. We were visiting on a Sunday so we had every site to choose from, opting for one with a lean-to next to the lake.
Risk takers or mid-week explorers could hypothetically skip bringing a tent and save a pounds by sleeping in the lean-to but take note that these sites are first come, first serve.
There are a variety of trails at Ferncliff including hiking trails and singletrack mountain bike trails. We were riding road bikes so we decided to go for a hike and leave our bikes at camp. A short walk led us to the Ferncliff Fire tower, which, unlike the majority of fire towers in this region was built specifically for recreational usage in 2007. The views certainly did not disappoint!” – Sarah Knapp, Mappy Hour Founder
North South Lake Campground
“This campground is nothing short of epic and well worth the drive. The sites are beautiful and offer a communal feel with access to lake side beaches and a lot of good hiking. The Windham Blackhead Range is a short drive away offering 3 of the Catskills 3,500 peaks (Thomas Cole, Blackhead & Blackdome), but there is no reason to get back in your car after setting up.