Wellesley Island State Park Camping

Wellesley Island State Park Camping

I stepped out of my tent into the early morning light and looked out over the smooth waters of the St Lawrence River. A few birds are in sight, and they sometimes dive to the river to grab something that only they can see. Off in the distance is a large bird, I think it may be an eagle, but it too far away, and I am not an expert to be sure. Still, it is hypnotizing to watch. A few ducks complete the river scene. I am a night owl normally, but I will admit there is something special getting up early when you are camping. Welcome to Wellesley Island State Park.

Wellesley Island State Park camping site A47

Wellesley Island State Park camping site A47

My first camping trip to Wellesley Island State Park  was a last minute decision. A planned trip to Assateague Island, near Ocean City, had to be canceled because of travel restrictions. My first planned trip had also been canceled. I had been looking forward to my combined camping/kayaking trip. My brother has been going to the Thousand Islands for years to camp, boat and fish. Wellesley Island State Park is his preferred destination. He gets a campsite and a slip at the marina for his boat.

Wellesley Island State Park is the largest camping complex in the Thousand Islands region with 432 campsites. I started looking for a week of camping but everything was reserved. Reducing my nights to a mid-week trip, I lucked out and found a few open sites. Even more so, I found a tent only site that was waterfront. I really enjoyed getting out for a few days hiking, kayaking and just disconnecting.

Wellesley Island State Park camping site A47

Camping site A47 Tent Only, Waterfront, shaded with paved access road

There are campsites on either side, however, the sites are large enough that you have sufficient space.

Sunset on the St Lawrence Camping

Sunset on the St Lawrence Camping Site A47

Let’s Do That Again

When I got home, feeling the trip was too short, I looked for another getaway. I found a number of tent sites available the last week the campsites were open. The site I selected after much consideration was next to the boat launch in the “A” loop. It turned out to also be an excellent choice.

Wellesley state park camp a 22

Site A-22 is next to the A loop boat launch

Site A-22 was an outstanding choice for me. It was just a few feet from the boat launch. I inflated my kayak and carried it to the water to enjoy kayaking in the St. Lawrence. It also was only a three-minute walk to the restrooms and showers. Each of the sites, have a fire ring and a picnic table.

A Loop boat Launch kayak

A View of the Boat Launch Site from my Campsite

Hiking

Hiking the River Trail

Hiking the River Trail Near The Glacier Holes

The primary reasons for visiting the park is camping and boating. However, there is much here for the nature lover and hiker as well. The Minna Anthony Common Nature Center sits on a pristine 600 acre peninsula of Wellesley Island. The center itself has breathtaking views of Ell Bay and has a dock for visiting boaters. Ell Bay is very calm.

WellesleyIslandTrailMap

There are 8 miles of hiking trails, make sure you bring extra water. My first hike, I had planned to walk just half hour. The trail was so inviting and offered many photo opportunities, I ended being out there for a few hours.

Nature Center Visiting Boat Dock

Nature Center Visiting Boat Dock

River Level on the River Trail Ell Bay

River Level on the River Trail Ell Bay

The Narrows

The Narrows at the end of the Island

Kayaking the St Lawrence River

My Sea Eagle at Ell Bay Boat Launch

The ocean going ships do not ply the area where Wellesley Island Park is. There are, however, many pleasure boats and jet skies in the river. I am still learning to kayak, and more concerning, I am still getting used to the different way my Sea Eagle handles. So my first visit I launched from the Ell Bay side.

It was a highly enjoyable experience. The only thing that stressed me was four huge turkey vultures. They kept stating at me like they were hungry, and I was dinner. I kept thinking of a cartoon I saw years ago with two vultures. One said to the other, Hell with waiting, I am going to kill something. I was able to paddle close to them, got to within five feet of one before it flew away. The wingspan was at least five feet, and I could feel the wind from the wings as it passed by.

Loop a Boat launch kayak

Let’s Go Kayaking, Loop A Kayak Launch

Sunset Kayaking

This Was Taken As I Returned From An Sunset Paddle on the St. Lawrence River

The park was less used during my second trip with fewer jet skies. My kayaking was from the A loop launch. I could just grab my kayak, and hit the water. I even paddled all the way to Canada. Okay, it was only a quarter of a mile, but it was an international trip.

The Island

Wellesley Island is one of the largest islands located in the St Lawrence River’s Thousand Islands Region. The Thousand Island Bridge connecting the United States and Canada is really five bridges. Three of the bridges are in Canada, one in the US and one is the border crossing. The bridge on the south side of Wellesley island connects to the US Mainland while the bridge to the north is the border crossing. Most of the island is lightly inhabited, being mostly marsh land and state parks.

Other state parks nearby are Canoe-Picnic Point State Park, Grass Point State Park, Dewolf Point State Park, Waterson Point State Park, and Wellesley Island State Park Golf Course.

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

To many people talking about Watkins Glen brings forth an image of high energy. Watkins Glen was the home of the first auto racing in the United States after WWII, and is home to Watkins Glen International Speedway. Many of the country’s best races can be found at the speedway as well as special events. However, The area offers much more than auto racing. The glen offers activities for those who like the outdoors as well as those that enjoy the finer things in life.

The village of Watkins Glen is located at the south end of Seneca Lake. In the early days of automotive travel, it was a popular overnight destination. The village was halfway between New York City and Niagara Falls, then a two-day drive. The Finger Lake region of New York is a very popular destination for those wanting to get away from big city life. Known for the lakes and rolling countryside, The Finger Lakes region is within the Allegheny Plateaus which is a portion of the Appalachian Plateau. The shores of Seneca Lake are less populated than most of the other Finger Lakes, still you can find many things to do in the area including wine tours, hiking, boating and camping.

Visit Watkins Glen Park

If hiking and camping is what interest you, even mildly, then the Watkins Glen State Park is a must-visit destination. The New York Park website has this to say about the park:”Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet (ca. 122 meters) past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge. Campers and day-visitors can enjoy the Olympic-size pool, scheduled summer tours through the gorge, tent and trailer campsites, picnic facilities and excellent fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek, which is renowned for its annual spring run of rainbow trout.”

The park has three entrances. The main entrance is located in the village and is the starting point of the Gorge Trail. There is also a welcome center and souvenir shop here. Parking is limited here with some additional parking located across the road. The Upper entrance is near the opposite end of the park and the furthest point of the Gorge Trail. One point to note: the main entrance is at a 440-foot elevation, while the Upper Entrance is at 1010 foot elevation. So walking from the entrance to the upper is all uphill. The south entrance is on the south side of the park and is the entrance for the camping and swimming pool. You can also access the trail system from this point as well.

WatkinsGlenTrailMap

Hiking

At the main entrance you have two trail options, the gorge trail which follows the water and the Indian trail that goes to the to of the gorge and connects to the north rim trail. When you enter the gorge trail from the main entrance, you start by entering a tunnel carved into the rocks. Then cross a bridge that looks down over the last waterfalls. This trail is moderately difficult mostly due to uneven wet surfaces. The views are breathtaking. The Indian trail starts with a flight of steps that take you up to the rim. Once at the top, the trail is tree covered and only a moderate climb. Along the Indian trail are some overlooks that peer down to the gorge. There are also a few points where you can take steps down to the gorge trail. There is a suspension bridge that connects the north rim trial and the south rim trail near the campgrounds at the south entrance.

The campgrounds have sites for tents and RVs. It also has some rustic cabins.

The park is just one of the many things you can do here. This is a great weekend getaway from anywhere in the northeast.