Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground....
September 12, 2006 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a camping spot in Northern New England that meets several criteria?

OK. For a special camping trip, I seek the following in a campground:

Fairly secluded
Pretty in fall
Next to (or just a very short walk from) a body of water; ocean preferred, but river or lake OK too)
Open on Columbus Day weekend
Allows open fires
Within two hours' drive of Portsmouth, NH.

My backup plan is Hermit Island, but I'd love to find something closer that I don't know about yet. Perhaps a tall order, but if anyone has answers, AskMe does!
posted by Miko to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I stayed at Point Sebago as a kid. It's easily been a decade since I've been there, so I don't recall too many specifics... It's certainly nice in the fall, and is obviously very near to Lake Sebago. I can't imagine it's more than 2 hours from Portsmouth.

I can't speak to their fire policy, whether they're open on Columbus Day weekend, nor do I recall how secluded it was. But I thought I'd throw it out there as a suggestion.
posted by fogster at 9:54 AM on September 12, 2006

Are you looking for a car camping spot, or a hike-in?

Possible ideas for hike-ins:

Ethan Pond
Kinsman Pond
Gentian Pond (don't have a link).

All three are in NH and on water.
posted by justkevin at 9:55 AM on September 12, 2006

Sorry I can't offer specifics, but the State O' Maine has a nifty little web app that will point you to state parks that meet your criteria.

By the way, Hermit Island isn't very far east, probably an hour's drive from Portland.

Note that it can get a little frosty that time of year.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:57 AM on September 12, 2006

I was going to suggest Hermit Island before I got to your link. Make sure that anything you choose first is excellent because Hermit Island definitely is.

Keep in mind that the drive is soon going to be VERY scenic once you get off 95 in Brunswick.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:02 AM on September 12, 2006

Well, Point Sebago may or may not be right for your purposes. After the summer ends, they have special theme weekends throughout the fall with lowered rates. The website shows that Columbus Day weekend is "Monte Carlo weekend" this year.

I used to work as a cocktail waitress there, and "Monte Carlo" night was my favorite night to work. Basically, they set up chinsey little gambling games, and a few black jack or poker tables with volunteer dealers, you make $0.50 bets and their proceeds go to charity. Presumably for a special Monte Carlo weekend they go a little more all-out with the gambling stuff. But let it be known that it's very casual and just for fun. You're not going to Mohegan Sun here.

Point Sebago is different than a regular campground where everyone gets a site and minds their own business. It's more of a Dirty Dancing style rustic resort. Most people stay in cabins, and there's a restaurant and bar and activities, and people to play games with your kids while you're getting wasted. But you also can get a regular tent site and mind your own business if you like. Just be aware that most people will be there socializing. The grounds are quite big and there are some spots that are pretty and quiet. I don't think I've ever seen their tent sites, so I'm not sure how private they are. Sebago Lake is far from your nice, quiet Maine lake, too, even though Point Sebago's got a somewhat protected spot. It's very crowded with boats, though less so in the fall, of course.

I've stayed at Hermit Island and really liked it. Close to the gorgeous Popham Beach and great seafood. And I bet it'd be really private in the fall. But not the weather for bathing in the sea! You knew that already, I'm sure.
posted by lampoil at 10:51 AM on September 12, 2006

Response by poster: Y'all are right, i could hardly do better than Hermit. I've stayed there before and loved it, but always wondered if I was maybe missing something.

I'm looking for car camping for this go-round.

And I live in Portsmouth, so yeah, I'm prepared for frostiness!
posted by Miko at 1:01 PM on September 12, 2006

I did all my camping in the White Mountains, so I'm afraid I can't help. How long have you lived in Portsmouth? I moved away 8 years ago, but retain much fondness for my hometown and surrounding area.
posted by Miss Beth at 4:11 PM on September 12, 2006

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