The last time I went camping, I turned off my phone for three days. I didn’t read or reply to any emails, liked zero Facebook statuses and not once did I hear it ring or ding to notify me of a message. If someone wanted to reach me, they would have had to drive five miles into the piney forest of Massachusetts and hike up a dirt path to my campsite or track my steps along a thin trail snaking beside the shores of a strikingly, seemingly impossibly blue lake.
My feet were dirty, my clothes were slightly damp from the morning dew and my hair gave off the slightest scent of smoke that it had absorbed while my face had been warmed by the glow of the campfire. My senses were rejuvenated through environmental immersion, and – even if only temporarily – I was freed from the constraints of technology, hurry and responsibility.
Here, I was reminded why hiking camping trips are my happy place. It offers a reprieve from the everyday hustle and bustle, a reconnection with nature and reminder of the simplicity of life’s necessities: cooking, breathing clean air, exercising and – perhaps most importantly– relaxing.
Whether getting lost in the woods brings you joy or you prefer enjoying the great outdoors from the comforts of an RV parked in a resort, check out our collection of bucket list-worthy destinations for the best camping and hiking in New England and New York.
Need directions? Let AAA guide the way.
Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please check official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.
Camping and Hiking Tips
First-time camper? Take a look at the infographic below for tips on how to survive (literally and figuratively) out in the wilderness.
Camping and Hiking in New England
Lake Waramaug State Park
New Preston, Conn.
On a trip into the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut, chances are you’ll find yourself leaving quaint, small towns in your wake and diving deep into the woods, traveling along winding, hilly, tree-lined roads where acorns ping off the roof of the car and the smells of pine and the countryside waft in through the windows. The area is dotted with picturesque lakes, including Lake Waramaug, upon whose shores you’ll find 76 campsites, some overlooking the water and others hidden within the trees.
There is also a number of cabins on site, for those campers who aren’t quite willing to give up the comforts of the indoors. The campground is open Memorial Day through Labor Day and contains fishing, picnic, swimming and boating facilities, including canoe and kayak rentals.
Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor, Maine
Located on Mount Desert Island, surrounded by the chilly Atlantic waters off the central Maine coast, Acadia National Park offers world-class hiking on the island’s mountain with dramatic views of the Maine coastline and encircling foliage. There are five different camping and hiking areas in the park, and choosing the right one for your trip depends on the experience you hope to have.
Blackwoods Campground is open year-round, offering traditional tent camping facilities during the warmer months and primitive camping experiences during the off-season, when campers must hike to their sites. Seawall Campground, on the Southwest Harbor, and Schoodic Woods Campground, on the Schoodic Peninsula just southeast of Winter Harbor, offer amenities such as drive-in tent camping and RV accommodation sites.
Those looking for a more rustic, immersive and wilderness-focused experience should make a reservation at Duck Harbor Campground located on Isle au Haut, a smaller island located about 30 miles south of Mount Desert Island. You’ll have to catch a ride on the mail boat to get to this island where you won’t find any vehicles, but instead five fantastically primitive campsites that ooze adventure, each of which includes a lean-to shelter for a tent and a composting toilet.
After you’ve set up camp, head out on the 18 miles of hiking trails that explore the island’s marshes, bogs and mountains. Wildwood Stables Campground is only open to visitors with stock animals.
Cathedral Pines Campground
What makes Cathedral Pines Campground one of the best places for camping in New England? It meets many campers’ criteria for a fabulous and comfortable camping and hiking experience. It’s in the middle of nowhere, provides access to great outdoor activities, and yet still has flushing toilets.
Set within towering red pines in northwestern Maine, and less than 30 miles from the Canadian border, this campground offers a rural outdoors feeling while providing the comforts of bathroom, shower and laundry facilities. There’s also a playground, recreational hall and boating amenities.
Savoy Mountain State Forest
Whether you find yourself among the warm sunshine of the spring and summer months, the stunningly beautiful reds, oranges and yellows of the autumn months, or – if you’re brave enough – the snow in winter, Mother Nature practically guarantees campers in the Berkshires a visually beautiful experience no matter what the season.
Savoy Mountain State Forest offers some of the best camping and hiking in New England. It features 46 campsites, available for reservations seasonally and located below the bowing branches of an apple orchard, as well as four cabins that can be rented year-round.
Campers can choose from a variety of outdoor experiences and adventures, accessible from each of their 50 miles of collective hiking trails. The trails pass through floating bog islands, climb up to overlooks to offer spectacular views and weave through the forest before emerging over cliffs to reveal hidden, crystal clear waterfalls.
Chocorua Camping Village
Chocorua Camping Village is the ideal destination for resort-style, all-inclusive family camping and hiking in the woods of the New Hampshire White Mountains. Here you’ll be surrounded by the quieting comforts associated with camping like sprawling lakes, towering pine trees, fire pits and picnic tables.
But, you and the kids will also have access to many activities and amenities, including a game room, movie theater, swimming pool and treasure hunts. Both tent and RV sites are available, and more indoors-y, yet still adventurous campers can rent one of 10 Wabanaki Lodges. These log cabins are accessible only by venturing over a footbridge.
Charlestown Breachway State Park
Who says you have to choose between camping and going to the beach? Charlestown Breachway offers campers and beachgoers the best of both worlds. RV-suitable campsites are located right on a man-made breachway that separates the Atlantic Ocean from Ninigret Pond. Campers also have access to the state beach, freshwater fishing and shell fishing. There is even a boat launch on site. Campers must have a self-contained RV (this means no tent camping), as there are no sanitation facilities.
Nickerson State Park
Nickerson State Park in Cape Cod is a mini paradise. A world away from the crowds, scorching sun and crashing surf of the Cape Cod National Seashore, you’ll discover an enchanting forest refuge offering warm breezes, picturesque hiking trails and private beaches overlooking crystal clear waters of eight kettle ponds, formed thousands of years ago by glaciers and lined with white sand.
You’ll have your pick of over 400 campsites and access to swimming, boating and fishing facilities, as well as the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a paved bike path that runs through the park. There is also a nature center on site that offers recreational programs and yurt camping options.
Like Cathedral Pines, Moosalamoo Campground affords campers an outdoor, backwoods getaway without feeling too in the backwoods. The 19 sites, located at the base of Mount Moosalamoo, offer drive-in tent camping, toilet facilities, accessible drinking water and trash disposal. Once on site, campers can challenge themselves on the mountain’s 70+ miles of nearby trails, which are open for biking, cross-county skiing, hiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling in the winter.
Camping and Hiking in New York
Taconic State Park
Copake Falls, N.Y.
One of the state’s most popular camping spots, Taconic State Park can easily get crowded. So, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Some highlights include standing under Bish Bash Falls, hiking Brace Mountain and walking the famed Appalachian Trail.
Visitors can opt for tents or cabins, which include kitchens and outdoor campfire and picnic areas. Fishing is available at the campground. Deer and turkey hunting is also allowed, but with restrictions. The Copake Iron Works Museum, where visitors can learn about the area’s iron industry, is also nearby.
Letchworth State Park
Referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth offers a variety of amenities. Swimming, camping, hiking, fishing, lectures and cultural activities are some of the many features it has to offer. The site has camping spots for tents and trailers, but also private cabins and hotel-style lodging.
The park features 66 miles of hiking trails. Horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, biking, swimming, kayaking and whitewater rafting are also available. And, if you’re not afraid of heights, you can see the park from a hot air balloon.
Glimmerglass State Park
Overlooking Otsego Lake, this area is the one described in James Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales.” The park offers biking, camping, fishing, hiking and picnicking. In the winter months, there is skiing and ice fishing. The campgrounds include concession stands, a nature trail, pavilions, picnic tables, showers, grills, volleyball courts and fire rings.
There are plenty of natural wonders to explore at the Adirondacks, from waterfalls and lakes to mountain views and tree-lined hiking trails. Campers will enjoy the privately run Adirondack campgrounds which include lakeside amenities like daily paddleboard rentals. Some sites also offer RV hookups. For a more rugged experience, there are backcountry campsites, which are located 150+ feet away from trails or water sources, and are served by outhouses.
Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Considered the most famous of the Finger Lakes state parks, this spot offers 305 campsites with restrooms, showers, dumping stations and firewood for sale. It also offers concession stands, a gift shop, picnic tables and grills, playing fields, an Olympic sized swimming pool, kiddie pool, playgrounds and 19 waterfalls.
Reservations for campsites may be booked nine months in advance for a two-night minimum stay. Visitors to the park can also hike, fish in Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek and hunt in designated areas.
Clarence Fahnestock State Park
One of the main draws to this state park is its huge beach at Canopus Lake. For hikers, there are more than 14,000 acres of forest. Fishermen can catch bass, pickerel, perch, brook and rainbow trout in the park’s waters. The site also offers picnic areas, hikes led by park staff, a bridle path for horses, concession areas and more. And in the winter, Fahnestock is a popular locale for sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross-country skiing.
Harriman State Park
Home to more than 47,000 acres, this park is considered the second largest in New York State. The scenic campgrounds include approximately 200 miles of hiking trails, 31 lakes and plenty of quiet, secluded spots for spending the night. The Beaver Pond Campgrounds feature comfort stations, laundry facilities and a dumping station. Activities in the park include fishing, camping and hiking, picnicking and boating. It’s also right next to the park’s Lake Welch Recreation Area.
Willowemoc Wild Forest Yurt
Livingston Manor, N.Y.
A top spot for “glamping” – or, glamorous camping – in the Catskills, this site features 50+ private acres. It’s a popular spot for hunters, fishermen, photographers and nature lovers. Visitors will stay in a yurt, which is a portable round tent covered with skins or felt. The yurt has solar lighting, a composting toilet, shower and an outdoor barbecue grill. Bedding and linens are provided, but visitors should bring their own towels and washcloths.
Hither Hills State Park
For those hoping to camp out on the water, this 168-site campground features a 40-acre freshwater lake and two-mile sandy beach. Visitors can also spend the night on oceanfront property. There’s also a self-guided nature trail, sport fishing, opportunities for biking and hiking, picnic areas, woodlands and more. In the summer, Hither Hills offers movies, folk and line dancing, children’s theater and magic shows.
Shut down your smartphone for a few days and appreciate the beauty of nature in the Northeast region. You’ll come back feeling reinvigorated and better than ever.
What are your favorite places for the best camping and hiking in New England and New York? Share them with us in the comments.
Need help planning your next camping trip? Get in touch with a AAA travel advisor.
This post was published in 2018 and has been updated.