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Stealth camping at Harriman State Park's Lily Pond, in New York.

Stealth camping at Lily Pond in New York’s Harriman State Park. Easy access if you bring both a car and a bike!

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.

Fire ring in the middle of a stealth camping site, at Harriman State Park's Lily Pond, in New York.

Fire ring in the middle of a stealth camping site, at Harriman State Park’s Lily Pond, in New York.

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.

Meadow along Old Turnpike in Harriman State Park.

The Old Turnpike crosses a small meadow with fluffy pine trees and whispering grasses.

 Get There:

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.)

Map:

Trail map for reaching the stealth camp location on Lily Pond.

Park where the Old Turnpike meets Lake Welch Drive. Following the dashed line, hike .3 miles to a break in the barberry hedge on the left side of the trail.  (Ignore those other red pins on the map!)

 

 

 

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