It is the Memorial Day weekend, a time when many families will kick off their summer season. My summer and fall plans include a number of camping and hiking trips. I enjoy camping and have made a number of trips to different destinations for camping, Assateague Island National Seashore and Wellesley Island State Park have been my favorite destinations lately. This year, however, I am planning on destinations closer to home like Stony Brook State Park, mostly, and more trips.
I got an early start this year and early in the week before the holiday weekend, I headed to nearby Stony Brook State Park. I wanted to get in a few nights out in nature and also make sure all my camping gear was in great shape. So with the tune: “A-camping we will go, a-camping we will go, Hi-ho and off we go, a-camping we will go.” Floating around my mind, I packed my car, and off I went.
I often write and talk about hometown travel. However, while I do hike frequently nearby, I had not done any camping. This is a bit sad, as the Finger Lakes region has great camping. Stony Brook State Park is one of the smaller state parks, with only 568 acres. The park is just south of Dansville, NY, which is only about 20 miles (ca. 32 kilometers) away from me. Less than an hour from the city of Rochester. When you are in the park, it seems like you are hundreds of miles away. A small brook runs through the park, and it has cut a gorge that is a few hundred feet in places. While not as impressive as the one at Letchworth State Park, which is not far away, it is still interesting.
The north end of the park has pavilions, picnic grounds, playgrounds, a swimming area, and sports fields. There is also a bird-watching trail and a nature trail. To create a swimming area, the park will dam a small portion of the brook.
The southern end has about 80 campsites, plus a group campsite on the other side of the brook. The campsites are simple, each will a fire ring and a picnic table. Most have a place to park a small RV or a car. The campsites are aligned into three loops, with each loop having a restroom facility with showers. Seems like just cold water. The sites do not have electricity or water. There is a faucet with drinking water in each loop. The sites are a nice size and the loops are separated by trees and the terrain.
I stayed at site 325 which I found to be very nice. It was close to the restrooms and the back side was all wooded. My trip was midweek, the first week after the campground’s opening weekend. There was only one other site occupied in the loop I was in. The 400 loop had 3 RVs and the 200 loop was empty, as were the group campgrounds.
I have a nice Coleman tent that is fast and easy to put up even when alone. It is large enough for me to stand up in and have a nice air mattress. I bought it a few years ago after I got tired of crawling in and out of my tent and sleeping on a mat. The air mattress is twin size and is really designed for indoor use. It has a built-in electric pump. I bought a small inverter that I connect to the 12v outlet in my car. It takes about 3 minutes for it to be firm.
On this trip, I cooked over an open flame in the fire ring. Since this was a short trip of just two nights, I only cooked on the second day. Still, food tastes so much better when cooked on a campfire. Depending on my plans, I have a small propane grill I can use and a single burner butane stove.
Hiking Stony Brook State Park
Stony Brook Park has three trails between the north and south ends, The East Rim Trail, the West Rim Trail, and in between the Gorge Trail. The West Rim Trail and the Gorge Trail are just less than a mile long, and the East Rim Trail is about a mile and a half. The trail heads are in the same general area, and many hikers take one trail outbound and return on one of the others. The Gorge Trail was closed when I was camping. However, it has since opened, and I have gone back and hiked it as well.StonyBrookTrailMap
The Gorge Trail is the easiest of the three trails and passes by three waterfalls. There are a few sets of steps, as well as an overall gradual incline while going upstream.
The rim trails are listed as moderately difficult. There is a lot of elevation changes, including some steep areas where steps have been made. In addition to these three trails, there are a number of unmarked trails in the park.
Hover over the photo and use the arrows to scroll through the photographs.
Enjoy Your State and National Park
I do enjoy some creature comforts while I camp, however, I am not into the RV scene. I also am not a big fan of commercial campgrounds. The New York Parks has some great campsites, and the federal government has many as well. Sadly, There are only a few in New York. A few years ago, I purchased a lifetime America the Beautiful pass. It provides free entry to parks that have a daily usage fee and a 50% discount on camping. I intend to get a great deal of use from it.