It’s Friday night, so grab your backpack and go!
Note: This post contains information on stealth camping in Harriman State Park. Stealth camping, by definition, is the practice of using sites that are not permitted according to park regulations.
Lily Pond (GPS: 41.21634 N, 74.11139 W)
Lovely Lily Pond is located just off Lake Welch Drive, in Harriman State Park. It’s not along any major trails, but is in a great spot if you don’t want to hike your stuff in for miles — .3 of a mile from the road, and you’re there. The pond is a long, open field of lily pads tucked under a hillside.
There’s no parking for your car near this (unsanctioned!) campsite, so you’ll need to either hike in from another trail, or — better yet — throw a bike in the back of your car, dump your gear off at the gated entrance to the trailhead on the Old Turnpike, and then drive to an overnight parking spot two miles away at Lake Sebago Boat Launch, on Seven Lakes Drive. You can leave your car there, and bike to the trailhead, then chain your bike underneath one of those nice fluffy pine trees standing near the gate, in the meadow. Hike the rest of the way in, following the dashed line shown on the map below. You’ll see the trail where it starts from the gate; it’s a rough, grassy deer path that leaves to the right, past a pine tree, up a little hill that follows a stone wall on the right.
Follow this trail to the edge of the pond. Keep going, until a .3 mile from the start, you’ll see an opening in the barberry thicket on the left of the trail, The rough campsite’s down below.
This is a nice level campsite with a grassy floor, a fire ring, and trees close enough to hang a hammock.
The area is surrounded by tall oaks and maples, and lots of blueberry. The Lily Pond is choked with pads late in the year, but in early summer it’s probably a good place for bass fishing.
A stream feeds the pond at its western end, where fresh water is available but should be filtered.
Get to the unofficial campsite by taking the Palisades Parkway north to exit 14. Take the exit and turn left off the ramp onto Route 98. Follow 98 for a mile or so, then stay to the left when it merges with Rte. 106. Stay on Rte 106 as it crosses Lake Welch, and then keep an eye out for St. John’s Road on the left. Turn left onto St. John’s Road, take it to the end, and then turn left onto Lake Welch Drive. At a little over half a mile, you’ll see a gated road across a grassy meadow. That’s the Old Turnpike, and the start of the trail you’ll take to get to the Lily Pond campsite. (note: There is no sign to tell you that you’re looking at the Old Turnpike.)