Somewhere in New England to go camping over 4th of July?
June 22, 2016 8:12 AM   Subscribe

My 4th of July plans seem to have exploded, and I'm trying to make a backup plan. Since it's a 3-day weekend, I'd like to go camping somewhere—but I'm expecting that all the decent campsites are going to be packed and I'd really like to avoid that. Do you have any suggestions for where I could go with a couple of friends to enjoy a little camping without having to deal with too many other people?

So, yeah, a bunch of friends and I were going to spend the weekend of the 4th at a beach house owned by the parents of one of our group members, but suddenly there appears to be some kind of intra-family conflict going on there and it looks like it might very well not happen. I'm trying to make a contingency plan for myself and a few friends from the original group (three to five people total) and we'd like to go camping. This is in New England.

Problem is, we're all a bunch of introverted misanthropes and we really don't want to have to look at a lot of other people while we're out trying to enjoy a peaceful few days in nature. Since it's the weekend of the 4th, we're concerned that every campsite from the Berkshires to Baxter is going to be booked solid with noisy, drunken revelers. We want to avoid that!

Also, we're not going to be hiking more than a mile or two to get to our campsite. We're a pretty mixed group and not everybody is in the best of shape, so a major backpacking endeavour is not in the cards. If we can drive somewhere and get our camp on with maybe an hour or so max of hiking (less is also fine, no hiking is also fine) then that will work for us. Anything more than that will be an extremely tough sell. We also have kayaks and would potentially be interested in kayaking to our campsite, if you know of anything in that vein.

On the upside, we're willing to do a fair amount of driving. We'll be starting out from somewhere around here, and we have no problem getting up real early and driving for let's say up to about six hours to get to the trailhead. Less would be better obviously, but since it's a busy weekend we'll try to cast as wide a net as we can.

All we're looking for is somewhere quiet and pretty where we can set up our tents and do some day-hiking (or day-kayaking), have a little campfire, and relax. If there's water somewhere of any kind then that would be ideal, but it's not a hard requirement. (We like ponds and oceans and mountain streams all about equally.)

What do you think, Hivemind? Are we boned at this point, or is there somewhere out there that fits the bill which you don't think will be crowded? If you have a secret spot that you'd be willing to share but don't want to publicize too much, feel free to MeMail me about it. I'll be grateful for any and all suggestions.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
the first place that comes to my mind for generally low volume camping is Mt. Washington State Park in the Berkshires near the intersection of the MA/NY/CT borders. I did a five day backpack in the Berkshires, and I remember my time in Mt. Washington (obvious note: not the same Mt. Washington in the Whites) being the quietest sections of that trip, eventhough it overlapped with weekend. Most folks in Berkshires will camp at Greylock or Bash Bish and completely skip this park. It doesn't have particularly notable views or history, but it is on the AT so you're likely to get at least some thru-hiker traffic.

It's likely to be booked by this time but Northwest Camp is a pretty great rustic cabin operated by the AMC just over the border in CT, and it's a flat, five minute walk from a parking lot. Also, a little further from the Northwest Camp lot, there's Sage's Ravine, which is a super pretty mountain stream with a nearby campground. It's been five years since I did the trip, but I remember that the segment between Northwest Camp was not particularly long or strenuous. This is probably an accurate description of the approach.

Anyway, from a base camp at Sage's you won't get a chance to kayak, but you could hike north up to the Camel Hump ridgeline and enjoy some splendid views of Great Barrington, or you can go west to Alander Mountain and get a view of the Taconics and Connecticut. Bash Bish Falls is also super pretty but may be a bit far for your group and maybe worth visiting in car.
posted by bl1nk at 8:48 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

also, I was originally going to suggest this, but ruled it out after reading about your group's mixed capabilities. Still I offer it to you in case you're ever up for a more challenging approach. About three year ago, I did a 4th of July camping trip in King Ravine in the White Mountains, and it wasn't terribly crowded, and being up in the mountains meant that we could watch fireworks in Gorham from above, which was a neat experience. The Randolph Mountain Club maintains a number of backcountry shelters, and the cabins of Crag Camp and Gray Knob will definitely have people on the 4th, but the Perch is a leanto a little further in the Ravine that hardly gets anyone and is really only used by folks when Crag and Gray Knob are both at capacity, but when we were there on the 4th, both cabins were maybe half full and nobody was at the Perch.

The only caveat is that all of the cabins are at 2+ miles and > 2500 ft. up so are probably not in scope for this trip.
posted by bl1nk at 8:57 AM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kayaks? You can camp on many undeveloped Maine state-owned islands. A couple even have privies but the rest are carry-in, carry-out. A fire permit is needed from the appropriate town for camp fires. There are some obscure islands where you'd probably be the sole campers.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:02 AM on June 22, 2016

TWinbrook8, that sounds really interesting. I don't know Maine well at all, though. Do you have any thoughts about any specific spots that might be worthwhile?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:15 AM on June 22, 2016

one follow up question I would have about coastal Maine is bug count. Every time I've camped out on the coast between end of May and beginning of August, it's been like Pitch Black with the bugs filling the air.

With all of that said, my friends and I are also interested in doing a Maine island kayaking trip and would be totally into tips shared here.
posted by bl1nk at 10:47 AM on June 22, 2016

Sending you both memail.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:02 AM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

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