Have Tent, Will Travel

The insider's guide to 11 kid-perfect New England campsites
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Families have room to roam in Nickerson State Park, where they may hike and bike surrounded by woods that slope down into eight freshwater ponds. (William DeSousa/courtesy, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce)
Helpful Hint
Take a look at My NapPak if you're camping with young children. Instead of a sleeping bag, which can feel a wee bit claustrophobic for young kids, we opted for this comforter and pillow combo for our seven-year-old daughter. It worked like a charm. Good for warm weather only. $39; www.mynappak.com

When it comes to diversity of terrain, it's hard to top the landscape of the Northeast. Whether you crave mountains, lakes, rivers, or ocean, natural beauty beckons from every direction. And there's no better way to appreciate these sights than getting up close in a tent. Throw the alarm clock away and wake to the sounds of loons echoing across a lake. At night, after the s'mores have been devoured, stare up at the star-dusted sky. Without the distraction of a television or computer, you'll get to know your kids again in the best possible circumstances.

Adirondak Loj, Keene, New York
Looking out from a lean-to across Heart Lake, in the shadows of New York's High Peaks region, one easily senses the enormity of wilderness that defines the Adirondacks. It's no surprise that the Adirondack Mountain Club (AMC) built their rustic retreat, the Adirondak Loj, on the shores of the lake. However, you don't have to stay in the Loj to enjoy all of the AMC's amenities, as 37 campsites and 16 lean-to's are nestled on or just off the shores of the lake (lean-to's numbered five through eight occupy prime beachfront spots). Families can swim in the water, rent canoes, or go on guided hikes with naturalists from the nearby nature museum. The mile-long trail to the short summit of Mount Jo (good for any child five and older) climbs through a deep forest of uprooted birches before clambering over the final rocks to reach the top. (518.523.3441; www.adk.org/ad_loj)

Lake Waramaug State Park, New Preston, Connecticut
Tucked away in the Litchfield Hills, this is one of the most cherished campgrounds in the state. The 77 sites, spread out along the shores of majestic Lake Waramaug, offer an array of activities including swimming, fishing, and canoeing. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent from Memorial Day through Labor Day for $40 per day. The campground closes for the season from October. (860.868.0220; http://dep.state.ct.us/stateparks/parks/lakewaramaug.htm)

Mount Greylock State Reservation, Adams, Massachusetts
Located near the top of Mount Greylock in the Berkshire mountains, 35 of the 47 state reservation campsites sit on Sperry Road near scenic Stony Ledge, where the rocky cliffs offer magnificent views of Greylock's 3,491-foot summit. Even more stunning—the V-shaped wedge of trees forming a valley between the peaks known as The Hopper. Miles of hiking trails, from easy to strenuous, thread the densely forested slopes, leading to waterfalls, overlooks, and a section of the Appalachian Trail. (413.499.4262; www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/mgry.htm)

Nickerson State Park, Brewster, Massachusetts
Smack-dab in the middle of Cape Cod, the 420 well-spaced campsites at Nickerson State Park are in extremely high demand during the summer. If you're one of the fortunate few to snag one, have fun exploring the hiking and biking trails that snake along the ponds and through the woods, including the 25-mile-long Cape Cod Rail Trail. Flax Pond, one of several glacial "kettle ponds" fed by ground and rainwater rather than streams, is open for swimming, while smaller Higgins Pond is open for catch-and-release fishing. (508.896.3491; www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/nick.htm)

Boston Harbor Islands, Boston, Massachusetts
These campgrounds are spread over four islands in the underused Boston Harbor, now part of a national historic park. Grape Island, Lovell, Bumpkin, and Peddocks each have ten to 12 sites, and Lovell has supervised swimming. A 20-minute ferry to Georges Island, site of historic Fort Warren, leaves from Long Wharf in downtown Boston; inter-island shuttles connect Georges to outlying islands in the chain. (617.223.8666; www.bostonislands.com)

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at farandaway@comcast.net.

Published: 1 Aug 2006 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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