North South Lake Campground Car Camping Trip

view of North South Lake from above

view of North South Lake from above

North-South Lake Campground in the Catskill Mountains of New York was me and my sons’ summer car camping trip for 2013. The campground is in the Catskill Forest Preserve off County Route 18 near the town of Haines Fall. Tannersville and Hunter are not too far away. The campground is operated by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The campground has 219 campsites for tents or trailers spread over seven loops.

The weather was great for mid-July and we had three fun filled days of kayaking and biking and hiking without going outside the camp grounds.

I learned about the North-South Lake Campground from reviews of campgrounds on the Internet and the “best” site for us was Site No. 11 in Loop No. 1. The site provided the privacy that we were looking for.

Most the sites in the campground are very nice. Most are shaded by plenty of trees and enough space separating each site. Some of the sites along the North Lake seem to be arranged for small groups that want to camp close to each other. There weren’t too many trees – if any at all – growing between sites.

Here are a couple of pictures of Site 11 where we set up tent at North South Lake Campground.

north south lake camp site no. 11

north south lake camp site no. 11

back of site 11

back of site 11

One thing I liked about the North-South Lake Campground was the number of scenic hikes that started right inside the campground grounds without having to drive long distances to get to.

One trail head by North Lake

one trail head by North Lake

hiking on a trail next to a cliff

hiking on a trail next to a cliff

stopping to admire the view

stopping to admire the view

waterfall in the woods

waterfall in the woods

There are restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, and electricity, located at each of the seven camp site loops and swimming beaches.There are two swimming beaches, one at the North Lake and one at the South Lake, each with a picnic area close by with picnic tables and charcoal grills. Boat rentals are available by the beaches. It’s easier to launch a canoe or kayak from the North Lake launch area.

kayaking on north lake toward south lake

kayaking on north lake toward south lake

You can also take a short ride on your mountain bike – not road bike – around the lakes.

taking a break to enjoy the view

taking a break from bike riding along the lake

The campground also has a trailer dump station and a recycling center for you to get rid of your garage everyday – especially food waste that will attach black bears to your campsite.

The campground is heavily wooded – except along the shores of the North Lake where the camp sites are located.

If you have a large group and can take up three campsites and want to be next to the water (North Lake), and privacy is not a main consideration, book Sites 178, 179 and 180.

site 178 along North Lake

site 178

site 180 along North Lake

site 180

Of the camp sites that we visited to check out, Site No. 186 and 187 are bad sites and need to be reworked by the DEC – IMHO.

site 186 at junction of two roads

site 186

Overall, we liked the North South Lake Campgrounds very much. It is relatively inexpensive ($22), clean and quite – when there aren’t too many younger kids around. The restrooms and shower rooms are relatively clean –  and the hot showers are free. There is even a sink next to the shower house with hot water for washing pot and pans.

North-South Lake Campground is a very popular campsite – for good reasons. According to the DEC, the campground “…is the biggest and most popular state campground in the Catskill Forest Preserves….” As a matter of fact, it’s so popular that campsites are usually fully booked months before the camping season starts. So if you are thinking of camping there, I would suggest you book early for the best sites for the days you want.

Google Map Location of North-South Lake Campground

Go to North South Lake Campground official site for description and directions.

Map of North South Lake Camp Sites

Catskill Park Listing of DEC Campgrounds

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