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Where to Go Camping with your Family in New England

by Barbara Rogers

May 9, 2018

© Stillman Rogers

Listicles

For my family, summer always meant camping season, the time when we head for our favorite campgrounds and spend a week living in a tent. I grew up camping and my kids wouldn’t miss this rite of summer for anything. Here are some of our favorite New England campgrounds.

 

Groton State Forest

In Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the large Groton State Forest includes Stillwater, Big Deer and New Discovery campgrounds, plus many places for wilderness camping. More than a dozen hiking trails, interesting geological formations, a bog filled with rare plants (bring waterproof boots) and ponds for swimming, kayaking and canoeing make this a popular state park. (Route 232, Plainfield, Vermont.)

 

Molly Stark State Park

Molly Stark State Park is located on the side of Mt. Olga, at one of the highest road access points in Vermont’s southern Green Mountains. A short trail from the campground to the summit, where there is a fire tower, provides big views for a relatively short and easy hike. Campsites are large and surrounded by woods. The campground is small, only 23 tent/RV sites and 11 with lean-to shelters. (705 Route 9, Wilmington, Vermont.)

 

Lura St Joe's Graduation

© Stillman Rogers

Seawall, Acadia National Park

The first national park in the East, Acadia National Park covers 46,000 acres of rocky coastline and forest that includes mountains, lakes, ponds and beaches, plus two large campgrounds. Seawall, near Southwest Harbor, is ideal for families that enjoy more rustic camping, with large wooded sites suitable for tents and only a few that can take RVs. All the campsites are within a 10-minute walk of the shore, and families can explore its wonders on the frequent nature programs with rangers. (Route 102A, Southwest Harbor, Maine)

 

Blackwoods, Acadia National Park

Near Bar Harbor, Blackwoods Campground is larger and busier than Seawall. All the campsites are in the woods and most are well-separated. Some can accommodate RVs, but there are no hook-ups. Campsites are within a 10-minute walk of the shore. Regularly scheduled Island Explorer shuttle buses stop at both Acadia campgrounds, so you can access hiking trails and other park attractions without dealing with traffic and parking. (Route 3, Seal Harbor, Maine)

New Hampshire, Nottingham, Pawtuckaway State Park,

© Stillman Rogers

 

Lafayette Place Campground

In the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Lafayette Place is part of Franconia Notch State Park, a perfect base for exploring the many natural wonders and visiting the children’s parks like Clark’s Trading Post and Whale’s Tale Waterpark, both nearby. The 97 wooded campsites for tents and RVs are large, and all have fireplaces. Free nature programs help campers of all ages learn more about the region’s natural environment. (Interstate 93, Franconia, New Hampshire)

 

White Lake State Park

One of the largest campgrounds in the White Mountains, White Lake is also the only one in the region on a lake with a swimming beach. The 203 campsites stretch along the shore and are fairly open, although shaded by tall pine trees. You can rent boats at the campground for fishing and follow the trail around the lake to see beaver houses and perhaps spot loons. (94 State Park Road, Tamworth, New Hampshire)

 

Hampshire, Nottingham, Pawtuckaway State Park,

© Stillman Rogers

Pawtuckaway State Park

The large Pawtuckaway State Park is in southern New Hampshire, and the campground is set around a beautiful forest-surrounded lake. Many of the nearly 200 wooded campsites have views of the lake, which has a good swimming beach, canoe and kayak rentals and a boat launch. Families can also rent one of the five cabins, each one sleeping up to six people. The park has a number of hiking trails, one leading through a boulder field strewn with huge glacial boulders, some the size of houses. (40 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, New Hampshire)

 

Nickerson State Park

Located in the center of Cape Cod, within 10 minutes of some of the best ocean and bay beaches on the Cape, Nickerson State Park covers nearly 2,000 acres. Its more than 400 spacious campsites are a mix of shaded, sunny, secluded and open, but all are good sized. There are also yurts for rent with beds and electricity. (3488 Main St., Brewster, Massachusetts.)

 

Campsites can be reserved at most of these, although only a limited number can be reserved ahead at Acadia National Park. It’s wise to reserve early for weekends and mid-summer, when campgrounds are often filled to capacity.

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