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Old 08-01-2018, 02:03 PM   #1
nickchevy
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Overnight Car Camping Allowed?

Afternoon Everybody,

So planning on coming back for a second time in September. Now I know I can book a local campsite for the night but I was thinking of just sleeping in the back of my vehicle. I have a large/long vehicle that I can throw an air mattress in.

But...I thought I remember reading on here in 2015 or so about rules and laws that you could not sleep in your vehicle in the High Peaks.

Are there spots or parking lots that I can just pull over at the end of the day and just camp out? Obviously looking at "free" spots.

Thanks!
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Old 08-01-2018, 02:26 PM   #2
DSettahr
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Technically, sleeping in your car at a trailhead is not permitted at DEC trailheads, as you are camping (yes it fits the legal definition of camping even though it is in your car) within 150 feet of a road and are not at a designated site. Realistically, if you discretely spend a single night in a vehicle at a trailhead and don't do anything else that would fit the common definition of camping (no campfire, no hanging out in camp chairs conspicuously drinking beer, etc.), most rangers don't seen to have an issue with it. There have been occasional reports of folks trying this, only to be directed to move on when caught by a ranger, though, so YMMV.

There are a number of legal, car-accessible designated sites scattered throughout the park, as well as designated sites located within a short walk of a trailhead or road. South Meadows (just north of the Adirondak Loj) has about 10-15 such sites and is pretty popular for folks looking to hiking the High Peaks on extended trips without having to backpack or pay to stay at a campground or motel. There's also a few such designated sites at Chapel Pond (5 or so) in Keene Valley, as well as about 4 or 5 near Boquet River west of "Disfunction Junction."

In the Eastern Adirondacks there's a few sites along Dacy Clearing Road near Buck Mountain, and of course the Hudson River Recreation Area has a bunch of sites. There's also a few sites along the East Branch Sacanadaga River on Route 8, south of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.

In the Northern Adirondacks, designated sites that are car accessible (or very close to the road) exist at Slush Pond, Mountain Pond, Jones Pond, Little Green Pond, and (I think a few) along Floodwood Road. Horseshoe Lake (near Tupper Lake) also has a few designated sites.

In the Southern Adirondacks, there are a few designated sites along the road at Mason Lake, as well as scattered throughout the Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm easements. I believe that there are also a few along West River Road near Whitehouse on the edge of the Silver Lake Wilderness.

The granddaddy of free, car-accessible camping in the Adirondacks is of course the Moose River Plains. There's 120+ free, first-come, first-serve car accessible designated sites spread out across the 20 miles or so of dirt roads in the plains. The area is popular, but I don't think I've ever seen it filled to capacity.

As with backcountry sites, the state land use regulations apply to any designated site on state land (note that the South Meadows sites are technically in the High Peaks Wilderness, so fires are not allowed and you either need a bear canister or must store food in your vehicle). Roadside designated sites also tend to be quite popular, so a "Plan B" is always essential if you're planning to arrive late on a Friday or Saturday evening (sometimes Thursday evenings as well).
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Old 08-01-2018, 03:58 PM   #3
nickchevy
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Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
Technically, sleeping in your car at a trailhead is not permitted at DEC trailheads, as you are camping (yes it fits the legal definition of camping even though it is in your car) within 150 feet of a road and are not at a designated site. Realistically, if you discretely spend a single night in a vehicle at a trailhead and don't do anything else that would fit the common definition of camping (no campfire, no hanging out in camp chairs conspicuously drinking beer, etc.), most rangers don't seen to have an issue with it. There have been occasional reports of folks trying this, only to be directed to move on when caught by a ranger, though, so YMMV.

There are a number of legal, car-accessible designated sites scattered throughout the park, as well as designated sites located within a short walk of a trailhead or road. South Meadows (just north of the Adirondak Loj) has about 10-15 such sites and is pretty popular for folks looking to hiking the High Peaks on extended trips without having to backpack or pay to stay at a campground or motel. There's also a few such designated sites at Chapel Pond (5 or so) in Keene Valley, as well as about 4 or 5 near Boquet River west of "Disfunction Junction."

In the Eastern Adirondacks there's a few sites along Dacy Clearing Road near Buck Mountain, and of course the Hudson River Recreation Area has a bunch of sites. There's also a few sites along the East Branch Sacanadaga River on Route 8, south of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.

In the Northern Adirondacks, designated sites that are car accessible (or very close to the road) exist at Slush Pond, Mountain Pond, Jones Pond, Little Green Pond, and (I think a few) along Floodwood Road. Horseshoe Lake (near Tupper Lake) also has a few designated sites.

In the Southern Adirondacks, there are a few designated sites along the road at Mason Lake, as well as scattered throughout the Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm easements. I believe that there are also a few along West River Road near Whitehouse on the edge of the Silver Lake Wilderness.

The granddaddy of free, car-accessible camping in the Adirondacks is of course the Moose River Plains. There's 120+ free, first-come, first-serve car accessible designated sites spread out across the 20 miles or so of dirt roads in the plains. The area is popular, but I don't think I've ever seen it filled to capacity.

As with backcountry sites, the state land use regulations apply to any designated site on state land (note that the South Meadows sites are technically in the High Peaks Wilderness, so fires are not allowed and you either need a bear canister or must store food in your vehicle). Roadside designated sites also tend to be quite popular, so a "Plan B" is always essential if you're planning to arrive late on a Friday or Saturday evening (sometimes Thursday evenings as well).
Solid details! appreciate it.
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Old 08-01-2018, 05:20 PM   #4
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I've always wondered, what's a typical day for someone camping in the Moose River Plains? As best as I can tell, it's a long road with not a lot of access to nearby hiking or water.
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Old 08-01-2018, 05:25 PM   #5
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I've always wondered, what's a typical day for someone camping in the Moose River Plains? As best as I can tell, it's a long road with not a lot of access to nearby hiking or water.
Based on my experiences in that area, a typical day involves consuming about as much alcohol as one's body can tolerate.

On a more serious note, most people camping there probably aren't as much the hiking sort, but more the "hang out in camp with friends/family" sort. Some folks do fish the Moose River or one of the other water bodies in the area.

The area is also popular with hunters, and if you drive through in the fall you'll see a lot of permit hunting camps set up.
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Old 08-01-2018, 05:32 PM   #6
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I've always wondered, what's a typical day for someone camping in the Moose River Plains? As best as I can tell, it's a long road with not a lot of access to nearby hiking or water.

Well, either you haven't ever been there or you haven't looked very closely at what is there, with varied paddling, hiking and mountain biking opportunities.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22571.html
http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/53596.html
https://cnyhiking.com/MooseRiverPlainsCamping.htm
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_for.../mrpwfbike.pdf


"The area contains low‐lying river valleys, hills and low mountains and a couple of 3,500-foot high mountain summits - Little Moose Mountain and Manbury Mountain in the Little Moose Wilderness. The lands are a transitional zone between the high mountain country to the east and north and the foothills to the west and south.

More than 65 ponds and lakes border or are located within the unit, totaling approximately 3,500 acres. About 100 miles of brooks, streams and rivers drain into three major watersheds - the Raquette River, the Hudson River and the South Branch Moose River. Sections of the South Branch Moose River, Otter Brook, Red River and Cedar River are designated scenic rivers.

The area features more than 100 primitive roadside campsites, miles of marked trails and numerous lakes and ponds. The Moose River Plains are an ideal destination for visitors with varied interests and abilities."
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Old 08-01-2018, 07:36 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by OntarioSkiBum View Post
I've always wondered, what's a typical day for someone camping in the Moose River Plains? As best as I can tell, it's a long road with not a lot of access to nearby hiking or water.
The few times I camped in there I did a lot of exploring, mostly off-trail, although there are actually a lot of trails. There's not a lot of mountains out there but there are a lot of small cliffs that are pretty interesting.

It's a good place to bring your bike, because you can ride almost all of the trails and ride right from your campsite.

I paddled a couple of the smaller ponds but they weren't that exciting. There are a couple lakes would give a better experience I believe i.e. CRF, Squaw Lake, Beaver Lake.

Also Wakely Mountain is a good hike now that the tower has been repaired. It used to be super sketchy even 10-20 years ago...
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Old 08-12-2018, 01:02 PM   #8
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I've always wondered, what's a typical day for someone camping in the Moose River Plains? As best as I can tell, it's a long road with not a lot of access to nearby hiking or water.
I just came back from the West Central 'Daks, annual trip to a cottage with my wife and her sister, and my daughter, and other visitors, and we did 4 day trips into the Plains to fish. My friend led the way into Lost Ponds and missed the hard left after Sumner Stream to get to the "normal" side of the main pond, and we ended up walking about an extra mile into some of the most beautiful woods interspersed with views of the upper (shallow) pond, and ended up at a backwater of Sumner, then bushwacked into the back side of the deeper section of the pond adjacent to the cliffs, gorgeous spot with no noise except the kingfishers and the breezes, so nice that we did it again the second week.

We have also been into Mitchell Ponds, fishing is just an excuse to see beautiful spots like this! Rock Dam Road is open, a great hike for seeing bog vegetation, and a fine swimming hole at the end. And did I mention fishing? Just a small sampling of possible hikes, other folks are also indicating good ones.

We didn't have time to do Little Moose Lake, or revisit Otter Brook, head downstream through the big campsite and see the HUGE White Pine just before you get to the cascade, or head up to Kenwell's and see the cliffs, or make another trip into Squaw. While I do carry many malted beverages on these trips in (and I'll get up there in September for some extended time with my tent, typical day: rise at dawn fish till 9-10, go to camp eat, clean, do chores, eat dinner, return to pond and fish 'til dark), I have never run out of places to walk and check out the beauty, and maybe catch a fish. And there are Blueberries, too!

Trips in were on Monday and Thursday of each of the last two weeks. On both Monday's the place was pretty empty, but on Thursday PM coming out choice sites were being occupied. Sadly, as usual, some of the sites had been -pretty trashed by prior occupants (there ought to be a test for admission on what is supposed to go on in an outhouse, and what should never happen there!), and we picked up some litter, but in general, it was in better shape than some years when I've gone in, and the road is in about as good a shape as it has ever been, likely because Harold the Moose has apparently passed on to the great Helldiver Pond in the sky, so it is not getting the daily peeper traffic, and most people are obeying the speed limit.
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