A Quick Escape From The City Life: The Cranberry Lake Campground
Have you been to an enormously isolated lake surrounded by acres of dense woodlands where you can set your tent up, kill time with new activities or just be lazy all day? That’s what you’ll feel at the Cranberry Lake Campground in New York. Yes, it’s just around New York! The campground is located at Cranberry Lake Village in Adirondacks, North of New York. The lake is one of the largest remote areas remaining in the state.
The Cranberry Lake Campground is surprisingly just a portion of the whole Cranberry Lake. There’s the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest, the Five Pond Wilderness Area, the Clifton Town Beach, and finally, the Cranberry Lake Campground. All of these areas are accessible to tourists and locals. What sets the campground apart from its neighboring recreational areas are the cheap and clean amenities as well as the privacy it offers to its visitors.
If you’re one who loves to do aquatic leisure activities, the 55-mile shoreline the lake boasts is for you. You can spend your time swimming, fishing, canoeing, water skiing, sail boating, or just observing the graceful ducks migrating and inhabiting the lake all day long.
Not only is the place perfect for water activities, but it’s also an excellent area for hiking, biking, hunting, camping, and picnicking courtesy of the park’s unbroken and seemingly “forever wild” forest preserve.
There’s always something to do in the park. You’ll never run out of fun. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for sheer relaxation, you’ll certainly enjoy strolling on the grounds. Doubtlessly, the park’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts!
Calling all New Yorkers and every person looking for an escape, pack your bags and let’s explore the stunning Cranberry Lake campground!
Going To The Cranberry Lake Campground
From the West: From I-81, take Exit 45 (Route 3) at Watertown. Take Route 3 to Cranberry Lake Village. Turn right on Lone Pine Road; campground is 1 mile south.
From the North: Take Route 56 south from Potsdam. At the intersection with Route 3, turn right (west), and follow Route 3 to Cranberry Lake Village. Turn right on Lone Pine Road; campground is 1 mile south. From the South: From I-90 (NYS Thruway) west, take Exit 27 at Amsterdam to Route 30 North. Take Route 30 North to Tupper Lake Village; turn left onto Route 3 West. Take Route 3 to Cranberry Lake Village, turn left on Lone Pine Road; campground is 1 mile south.
Best Time To Visit
Having been here during their peak and nonpeak seasons, I suggest visiting here between the months of September to October (non-peak season) when the weather’s crisp and nice, and the area isn’t crowded.
Who wouldn’t want to have the whole campground to themselves, right? You’ll appreciate the remoteness and beauty of the place more with a few people around.
The Cranberry Lake Campground
The campground is certainly one of the biggest and nicest I have seen. The lake’s very pristine and they offer enough boat and canoe rentals which are very considerate, especially during the peak season where locals and tourists flock to the grounds.
The lake is also home to various aquatic species, ensuring an easy catch if you want to fish. The bathrooms, showers, and bath houses are clean and wide, offering a sufficiently broad space for convenience.
Another notable feature of this campground is the well-marked trails and well-maintained campground.
Of all the campground’s features, what I like most is the privacy it offers to campers. The campground has numerous campsites that are separated from each other by dense trees, giving you and your companions the privacy you deserve.
What I always look for first when booking for campgrounds is the campsite. I personally dislike one big campsite where people can collectively set their camps. It offers zero privacy, and it defeats the purpose of relaxation we are to gain from nature. Fortunately, the Cranberry Lake Campground has dispersed campsites with “privacy trees”.
If you plan to camp here overnight, be sure to secure a waterfront campsite. The view’s just beautiful and unbeatable! Just staring at the horizon will calm your body and soul.
Rules Of The Campground
- Each campsite is limited to 6 occupants
- Only 2 tents/ 1 RV are allowed per campsite
- The longest you are permitted to stay is 14 nights
- There’s no electricity in the campground, but generators are allowed. The use of generators is limited to 5 hours a day only.
- The aquatic recreational activities are not facilitated by a lifeguard so be sure to look out for your kids and companions
- Only vaccinated pets are allowed. They’re not authorized to enter the beach and day-use areas
- The campground is strict with its quiet hours which run from 10PM to 7AM daily.
Things To Do At The Cranberry Lake Campground
Aquatic Recreational Activities
The long-stretching shoreline of the lake is a perfect venue for aquatic recreational activities. As I’ve mentioned before, you can enjoy water activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing, water skiing, and sail boating in the lake.
Boats and canoes can be rented in the campground for a day. You can also bring your own kayak, powerboats, and rowboats. The lake provides a stretch of approximately 16 miles for boating activities which is very enjoyable because we definitely felt like we’re miles away from the civilization.
Such a good way of escaping! As for the canoe, the only way to launch one is to go to the canoe area which is situated near the smallest parking lot in the campground.
If in case you didn’t bring food with you, the lake's got your back. Bring a fishing pole with you to the fishing pier and put bait for trouts, pan fish and bass fish. You’ll never have a hard time fishing because there are tons of fish in the lake.
Furthermore, the lake has a sandy beach portion for kids begging to take a dip. Please watch over your little ones as there are no on-site lifeguards in the beach area.
There are numerous hiking trails in and near the campground. If you want to sweat a little, you’re looking at the right place. Some easy trails for amateurs would be the ones in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area, located west of the campground and in the Grass River Wild Forest in the northwest part of the lake.
There are about 10 short and isolated trails you can hike in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area whereas there are fewer in the Grass River Wild Forest. Perhaps the best path I’ve tried in the forest was the Lampson Falls because a clean and refreshing falls awaits you at the end of the trail. I usually meet backpackers exploring the entire Cranberry Lake trails on both trails.
A well-known trail hikers mostly endure is the Bear Mountain trail. The trail is situated within the campground, with a 3.6 mile loop and a total ascent of about 677 feet to the summit. To enter the trail, look for campsite 28 and register at the booth.
The trail is pretty long and steep (and tiring) . You’ll get to pass by a pond, a swamp, a rocky meadow, and finally, the summit. There are few scenic views on the way to the summit. Don’t be discouraged because the awesome view of the Bear Mountain and the Cranberry Lake will take your breath away at the summit.
The most satisfying way to end a day full of tiring outdoor activities is to rest your head in your soft sleeping bag in the comforts of your tent. Ah, what a great feeling to sleep peacefully without any human noises, only the chirping of the birds and the rushing of the wind.
The campground has a total of 173 campsites. Some are situated near the lake (water-front sites) while some are tucked away in the woods. I can’t clearly remember the best campsites in the area, but luckily, I found a cheat sheet from cnyhiking.com. According to the site, The best waterfront campsites include sites #42-48 in the peninsula loop; sites 63 & 64 in Loop 1; sites 92, 93 & 95 in Loop 2; sites 111, 115, 117, 118, 120, 121 and 122 in Loop 3. Be sure to grab one of these sites first!
The beautiful campground offers one fireplace and one picnic table per campsite. How thoughtful can they be? Also, there are water spigots nearby. With the fireplace on site, you can just cook/heat your own meals instead of buying.
Check out our no-cook food list for camping to help you prepare what food items to bring. However, there are no individual bathrooms for each campsite – 6 to 8 campsites share a common bathroom. It would be helpful to bring a portable camping toilet with you for convenience.
The rustic and picturesque woodland setting of the Cranberry Lake Campground truly embodies the “real camping experience”. The park’s enormity provides a lot of outdoor activities for water sports enthusiasts, hikers, campers, and families looking to spend some leisure time.
A Few Final Thought
I’m sure you’ll want to do all of the activities mentioned in this article but unfortunately, you can’t squeeze them all in one day. Perhaps, that’s the reason why visitors are entitled to a maximum stay of 14 nights. Kidding! But really, I hope you get to do all of the activities because it’s not everyday that you get to swing by the park.
There are dozens of state parks and campgrounds near New York but there are only few which offers privacy and genuine isolation, such as the colossal Cranberry Lake Campground.