It’s not easy to find the perfect campsite, especially when you’re camping with small children. You need just the right mix of rusticity (to feel like you’re actually camping) and convenience (read: clean and well-placed toilets and showers). So what if I told you that we found a place in the Catskills that’s got it all? Shady, secluded sites. Easy, scenic hikes. Boat rentals for the lake. Mountain-view beaches. Nearby restaurants with surprisingly good food. And yes, even clean bathrooms!
So where is this magical campsite, you ask? North-South Lake in Haines Falls, New York, just under two hours from Westchester. (It’s even close by!) The downside? It’s super popular. Weekends are booked up through Labor Day (we reserved our site back in April), although weekdays are still available. September and October weekends are also free, and those are actually the best months to go camping, with the weather being cooler and the leaves starting to color.
There are family-friendly hikes that start right from the campgrounds. We began with the Catskill Mountain House Site hike, which consisted of walking for about 10 minutes on level ground, then witnessing this incredible payoff:
Our next hike, to Mary’s Glen and Ashley Falls, was considerably longer and bumpier, but still manageable even for the 4-year-old in our group — and unbelievably beautiful.
The real stars of North-South Lake Campground, however, are North and South Lakes. They are simply gorgeous. We enjoyed them from the designated beach area (where the sand is surprisingly soft) and from a canoe that we rented at the boat launch area. “This is the best day!” my friend’s daughter said during the boating.
We treated ourselves to the local restaurants a couple of times during the trip. (I know, not exactly roughing it, but hey, we were technically on vacation!) In Tannersville, about 10 minutes from the campgrounds, the awesomely named Last Chance Antiques and Cheese Cafe dishes out perfectly made comfort food, while Mama’s Boy serves up locally sourced burgers and ice cream that are nothing short of amazing. All that hiking works up an appetite!
North-South Lake Campground, County Route 18, Haines Falls, NY; 518-589-5058