Outdoors Destination for multi-days trip in NE America/Canada
May 19, 2017 4:14 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a destination that's relatively easy to get to from NYC (by car or short length one stop flight) and has 2-3 days worth of beginner friendly hiking/outdoors activities in late August.

Friend and I are planning a reunion in late August in NYC where he lives. He would like to get out of the city and do some outdoor stuff. In term of experience, I have done multiple wilderness backpacking trips and am fairly comfortable outdoors. He is (I believe) nearly brand new to the world of hiking and camping and want to try those things out. We are tentatively thinking maybe a 3 day trip somewhere.

So I think an ideal location would be somewhere that's relatively easy to get to from NYC, relatively low effort high reward (I know this sounds ridiculous); an gentle introduction to the outdoors for a newbie.

he suggests Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada. I am not familiar with this place
I was thinking maybe Acadia National Park? Is it already too late to get online reservations for camp spots?

Any other suitable locations from the hivemind?
posted by Pantalaimon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total)
The Adirondacks are easily accessible from NYC by car and packed with all manner of amazing hikes at every ability level.
posted by saladin at 4:52 PM on May 19, 2017

Letchworth is a long drive, but beautiful hike, and, they have camping in the park. I'm not sure how easy it is to fly to Rochester, rent a car, and then camp, though.
posted by kellyblah at 5:22 PM on May 19, 2017

Clarence Fahnestock State Park! Just a quick drive North on the Taconic. Car camping but the campsites aren't on top of each other, and it has a bunch of day hikes, including a stretch of the Adirondack Trail. Plus I think there's kayaking and other activities nearby, and it's pretty. May be a bit hot in August but that's all of the NE for ya. Also there are lots of things to do in the area, for those not-so-outdoorsy types.

The Delaware River Water Gap is nice, too; it's huge and there are lots of activities. There are some good rustic-ish campgrounds in the park proper but I've always had good luck car camping at Dingman's, it has a general market and showers and such. You can go tubin' on the river, there's a bunch of nice walking in the park, and the campground is right on a bicycle trail. Don't forget to check out the falls.

Farther afield and more adventurous is Mt. Greylock up in MA; hike in camping! It's a real nice campground with a lot of good hiking, slightly more challenging but it won't kill a newcomer- just tucker 'em out. You have to carry in and out everything so plan accordingly. The area is real nice, swing though Great Barrington and check out Stockbridge too. Quaint!
posted by Admiral Viceroy at 6:21 PM on May 19, 2017

I don't have specific suggestions for you, but I will suggest against Algonquin provincial park. Given your constraints, is both too far and too advanced. The edge of the park is a 3 hour drive from Ottawa, Canada which is a two hour flight from New York City. It is a spectacular park with great wilderness and interesting backcountry canoeing ans backpacking opportunities but not what I would call an introductory backcountry hiking and camping location. (If your friend is set on seeing bears, moose and "true wilderness", it's a lovely place to visit, and has developed camping and hiking trails, as well as the backcountry hiking I mentioned, but there's so much opportunity closer to NYC for a 3 day trip)
posted by dttocs at 6:57 AM on May 20, 2017

Here's the English version of the Quebec Parks (SEPAQ) website. If you are looking for an easy start you could rent one of their huttopias or other ready to camp options. They are very comfortable and you really only need to bring food, personal items and sleeping bags or linens. I'm very partial to the Fjord du Saguenay but it depends on the landscape you are looking for, and how far you want to drive. You can't really go wrong in the SEPAQs. Mont Tremblant is about a 7.5 hour drive and that park is also very beautiful.

FYI for Canada's 150 birthday celebrations all the national (not provincial) parks are free to citizens so they will likely be busier than usual.
posted by Cuke at 7:33 AM on May 20, 2017

The Catskills are a two- to three-hour drive from the city, and offer a wide range of hiking activities. There's everything from carriage roads to the almost vertical Devil's Path. There are also cold streams and lakes for swimming, rafting and tubing, fishing, and trails for mountain biking. There are many camping sites in and around the park, but I don't know how far in advance one must reserve a spot. It's a very popular destination in the summer. Even the shittiest motels can be filled on the weekends, so plan accordingly.

A little closer to home are the 'Gunks (the Shawangunk Mountains), near the town of New Paltz. It's a very scenic ridge west of a SUNY college town, with a big rock climbing tradition. This may be a better beginner-level spot, as there are more options for easy hikes (in my opinion there are no real easy hikes in the Catskills, as there are more rocks than soil seemingly wherever you step).
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:43 PM on May 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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