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The Empire State Trail in New York

Camping along the Empire State Trail

Where can you camp along the Empire State Trail? This is really a tale of three trails: the Erie Canal section (lots of options), the Hudson Valley section (hardly any options), and the Champlain Valley section (somewhere in between). Scroll down for section-by-section details.
Distances are approximate.

There have been some very helpful discussions of camping on the Erie Canalway Forum, mostly about the Erie Canal section but some also relevent to camping on the Empire State Trail as a whole:
Erie Canalway Section: Buffalo to Albany
This long-established section of the Empire State Trail has a good infrastructure for camping cyclists. There are around fifteen established campgrounds and campsites along the Erie Canalway route:
AA Royal Motel & Campground
343 miles to Albany
14 miles to Buffalo
3.1 miles from the trail
Niagara County Camping Resort
321 miles to Albany
36.5 miles to Buffalo
2.7 miles from the trail
Red Rock Ponds RV Resort
290 miles to Albany
67 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Twilight on the Erie RV Resort
243 miles to Albany
114 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Lock 30 State Campsite
242 miles to Albany
115.5 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
T Spencer Knight Canal Port
229 miles to Albany
128 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Whispering Winds Campground
229 miles to Albany
128.5 miles to Buffalo
0.2 mile from the trail
Lyons Fire Station
223 miles to Albany
134.1 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
NorWin Campgrounds and Fruit Farm
220 miles to Albany
137 miles to Buffalo
2.7 miles from the trail
Rivers Crossing Campground & Marina
207 miles to Albany
150 miles to Buffalo
1.5 miles from the trail
Hejamada Campground
Port Byron
203 miles to Albany
153.7 miles to Buffalo
1.3 miles from the trail
Green Lakes State Park
161 miles to Albany
196 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Lock 21 State Campsite
136 miles to Albany
221.5 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Lock 20 State Campsite
115 miles to Albany
242.5 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Ilion Marina
98 miles to Albany
259.5 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Lock 15 State Campsite
Fort Plain
72 miles to Albany
284.7 miles to Buffalo
On the trail
Waterford Canal Visitor Center
10 miles to Albany
347.5 miles to Buffalo
1.7 miles from the trail

Beyond the established campgrounds, cyclists (and boaters) often informally set up a tent next to other locks along the trail. According to the NY Canals website, "Camping at other Canal Corporation locks may be allowed on a case-by-case basis. Camping at these non-designated sites is limited to a maximum of four tents per night. Campers must contact the lock operator in advance to determine if camping is permissible and where to set up." Here is a listing of all NY canal locks including phone numbers. Of course these informal camping options are "primitive" - depending on the lock, you might need to find a nearby convenience store for a restroom.

Hudson Valley Section: Albany to New York City
Unfortunately there are no established campgrounds on this section of the trail. A few campgrounds are within a few miles of the trail, but they require some travel on roads with high-speed traffic. There is at least one primitive camping option right by the trail (Livingston State Forest, north of Linlithgo).

Along trails in other parts of the country (for example, the Katy Trail in Missouri and the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska), many small towns along the trails welcome cyclists to set up their tent in the city parks. We reached out to numerous towns along this part of the Empire State Trail, and every last one told us that camping was not allowed in their town. Hopefully some of the town authorities will start thinking outside the box regarding camping, once they have seen touring cyclists - and their money - rolling through their towns.

The few options that we found:
Livingston State Forest
150 miles to NYC
60 miles to Albany
0.2 mile from the trail
Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground
New Paltz
112 miles to NYC
98 miles to Albany
5.1 miles from the trail
Sylvan Lake Beach Park
Hopewell Junction
89 miles to NYC
121 miles to Albany
2.4 miles from the trail

We hope the state of New York will eventually provide some camping resources along this section of trail, similar to the Erie Canal campsites.

The following state parks are sometimes mentioned for camping, but we did not include them in our listings because we think they're a little too far from the trail.

Champlain Valley Section: Albany to Canadian Border
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