By GILLIAN V. SCOTT, Times Union, link to original post
The water lapped quietly at the lakeshore just feet from our tent. A family of ducks floated by, keeping a wary eye on the dogs lounging around our campsite.
With just one other tent within view, we had a restful few days last week relaxing on an Adirondack lake. But we didn’t have to backpack our gear miles into the woods or canoe camp to find peace and quiet. Instead, we found solitude at one of Meacham Lake State Campground’s primitive campsites.
Most state campgrounds offer drive-up sites: You drive your car or camper to the site, and set up camp next to the vehicle. There’s usually a tap offering potable water every few sites and a bathroom with flush toilets within walking distance.
Most of the sites at Meacham Lake offer that option. But at Meacham Lake West, almost two miles down a dirt road away from the main body of the campground, the sites are more rustic. Some are “walk-in,” meaning you’ll need to park your car and then carry your gear a short distance to the site where you can set up your tent (no RVs need apply).
There’s running water at isolated locations, so you’ll need to bring larger water containers for storage and stock up when you drive in or out of the campground. Showers are available only in the main campground. Flush toilets? Meacham Lake West’s lakeside sites offer only pit privies, also known as outhouses. They’re frequently cleaned by campground staff, however, and were the nicest ones we’ve ever seen.
In exchange for losing the convenience of running water, you gain a more woodsy camping experience. Tent sites along the water are widely spaced and well-treed, and many have tent platforms to keep campers high and dry. Some sites are set so far apart, you can’t see another tent. Past campground experiences have left us cursing neighbors who ran generators for hours or stayed up late drinking and talking when we wanted to sleep. With our isolated campsite, none of that was a concern at Meacham Lake.
The campground is the only development on the lake, making for a relatively quiet body of water. It does allow motor boats, however, and the only annoyance during our stay was the buzz of a Jet Ski zipping up and down the far side of the lake. The St. Regis and Osgood rivers both empty into the southern end of the lake and, once on the rivers, the paddling is quiet and pristine.
We found Meacham Lake’s primitive sites through the 2007 book, “The Best in Tent Camping: New York State.“ (Menasha Ridge Press, $14.95). It’s written by Aaron Starmer, Catharine Wells and Timothy Starmer, and is subtitled “A guide for car campers who hate RVs, concrete slabs, and loud portable stereos.”
The book describes 50 different campsites in New York, from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks and down to Long Island.
With a successful stay at Meacham Lake behind us, we’re looking forward to exploring more of what the state campgrounds have to offer.
If you go
-Meacham Lake State Campground is located on Route 30 near Malone in Franklin County, north of Saranac Lake. There are 224 campsites, with only about 50 of those located in Meacham Lake West.
-Nearby hikes: Debar Mountain is accessible from the campground. The Paul Smiths Visitors Interpretive Center is located about eight miles south on Route 30.
-Nearby paddles: St. Regis and Osgood rivers. The St. Regis Canoe Area is just a few miles down the road.
-Cost: $20 per night, plus a $9 reservation fee.
-Information: For more details and to make reservations, go to http://reserveamerica.com.