I may be a city girl but I love any opportunity to disconnect. So on a whim we decided to go camping in the Hudson Valley. We had no idea what to expect but the weather forecast was good and we only have a few glorious weeks of summer left so we decided to take the plunge and go on a camping adventure. Last weekend we booked at site at Mills Norrie. It is something we wanted to do for some time but the weather this past summer has not been in our favor.
The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Camping in the Hudson Valley
I’ve talked about how I am a weekend warrior so I am always looking for trips that can be done in a weekend. I have to say I think we really nailed it this time. We fit in so much in so little time and at no point felt tired or overwhelmed. As I am writing this I am already thinking about our next weekend getaway.
Only a two hour drive north of the city the Hudson Valley makes the perfect weekend getaway. It is just close enough that you will not lose precious time sitting the car. However it is far enough to feel like you are anywhere but New York.
Why Go Camping?
As a city girl the idea of disconnecting and being off the grid is amazing. Unfortunately (or Fortunately) I wasn’t completely off the grid however it really did feel like it. We talked, we laughed, we listened to 90s hip hop. It really is a greatly way to connect without the outside distraction of everyday life. Not to get all mushy but every time we go camping we come back with a better appreciation of each other. It really does bring us together.
But enough with all the mush. Let’s talk what we did.
Where to Camp in the Hudson Valley?
We decided to pick Mills Norrie as our home away from home for the weekend. To be honest we booked last minute so we did not have many options to choose from. However the close proximity to the river and the places we wanted to visit made it the ideal choice.
After I booked our site, I made the mistake of reading the reviews. Don’t do this. There were a few common complaints that I would like to address based on my experience.
Just keep in mind. When it is comes to camping it is up to you to make a good experience. Yes, there are things that can really ruin a trip (Jason got 71 mosquito bites. NOT FROM CAMPING. Actually from Hiking). But at the end of the day the way you choose to deal with things will really dictate whether you have a good experience of not. It really is like a “Choose Your Adventure” book.
Check In was relatively smooth. Check in for the campgrounds begins at 3pm and staff is onsite until about 10pm. When I called to confirm they did advise me that it is ok to check in as early as 11am. We didn’t arrive until 6:30pm. It was still day light so plenty of time for us to set up our campsite.
One of the biggest complaints you will see about Mills Norrie is the site size. Everyone says the sites are small. And I have to agree. However not all sites are created equal. We were in Site 2 and while it was small for more than 2 people we had plenty of space. What I liked about this site was the privacy. We were surrounded by trees so although we could hear our neighbors we couldn’t see them.
Keep in mind there are a number of sites that seem to be on top of each other and have no trees or shrubbery to provide privacy. Some of the sites I would recommend (fill in sites here).
I was a bit nervous about this because I wasn’t excited about the idea of having to listen to loud music all night however we lucked out with our neighbors. Also around 11pm we actually had the park police yell at us because we were watching a movie on our iPad and apparently you can hear that. In honesty I was a bit put off by how they spoke to us however I could appreciate that they were enforcing quiet hours. In my defense how was I suppose to know you can hear the sound from an iPad. I can barely hear the sound from my iPad. That being said the only thing we heard after 10pm each night was crickets. It was absolutely glorious.
Ok. The bathrooms are small. I can’t speak to the Men’s room but there are only three showers in the ladies room two sinks and about four stalls. I would say this is very small for a campground of that size. The bathroom were nothing to phone home about. They served the purpose. Some complaints have mentioned that the bathroom was not clean. I would say you are in a State Campground. Was the bathroom pristine. No. Was it maintained. Absolutely. On a number of occasions I observed park staff mopping the floors and refilling the toilet paper. I greatly appreciated this.
Where to stay in the Hudson Valley
If you are not into the idea of going camping here are a few recommendations of places to stay in the area. I almost always use TripAdvisor when researching options. You can definitely do AirBnb or check out some of these awesome properties from TripAdivsor.
After getting our campsite set up we put dinner on the grill, opened a bottle of wine and began to settle in.
I have to say getting a camp site set up can be a lot of hard work however some things I have learned over the last several years.
(1) Be as organized as possible. If you know where everything is you won’t waste time looking for things like stakes to set up your tent that are buried under the seat in the car and you have no idea how they got there.
(2) Get an instant tent. Yes. They cost a bit more money. But they are so worth it. This is the one we have and it takes about five minutes to set up. Also there is plenty of room to move around. I highly recommend it.
(3) Don’t stress. You’re on vacation. Take it easy. Open a bottle of wine (Or whatever your beverage of choice is). Relax. You got this.
Because we were hoping to get up early for our adventures the next day we put on a movie, watched about 10 minutes of it before we got in trouble by park police, and fell asleep under the stars.
Day 1 in the Hudson Valley
We started Day 2 with breakfast at our campsite. I love brunch. So we made sure to have bacon, eggs, avocado and Mimosas. I definitely would not advise of drinking prior to going to going hiking so use your discretion.
Peekamoose Blue Hole
Our first stop of the day was Peekamoose Blue Hole which is located in the Sundown Forest. It was about an hour drive from our campsite. Sounds long but it is was a relatively scenic drive.
This swimming hole is definitely worth the drive. Crystal clear water in the Catskills. Upon arriving you feel like you are anywhere but New York. But guess what! New York has crystal clear water too. I shared my videos on social media and everyone assumed I must not be outside of the country, let alone New York. This is why I am a huge advocate of exploring your backyard. You will be amazed at what you can find.
Because of its popularity and the fact that people do not know how to clean up after themselves, the Blue Hole is now only accesible by permit on the weekends in the summer. If you google Peekamoose Blue Hole you will see articles that talk about all the garbage that people have left behind. Now that it is regulated we did not see any of the garbage that was talked about. There were a total of 20 people in the area. And everything was absolutely pristine.
After exploring the area for a bit we sat down to have lunch near a waterfall. We did a bit more exploring after lunch and then headed to our next destination.
I actually found this place by accident while messing around on the Google Maps “Around Me” feature. When I found out they had a Sunflower field I knew I had to visit. If you didn’t know Sunflowers are my absolute favorite flower.
The Sunflowers were stunning however what I loved about this place is that they have so many things that you can pick yourself. Everything from blueberries to corn to broccoli. This city girl was so impressed. Not sure how I didn’t come home with bags and bags of produce.
We were pretty spent after our day at the campsite, so after a quick stop at the store (where I managed to grab a couple pair of earrings), we headed back to our campsite for dinner and wine by the fire.
Day 2 in the Hudson Valley
We opted to have Sunday Brunch on the campsite complete with bacon, eggs, avocado toast and mimosas. When it comes to camping don’t over think it. There is no need to have an extravagant recipe. We just used a cast iron pan and were quickly able to whip up the bacon and eggs. I say we. My husband is the one that make breakfast.
Hiking Mills Norrie
After breakfast we headed out on our hike. Our original plan was to head up to Kaaterskill Falls however we were a bit lazy so we opted to explore Mills Norrie instead. We decided to hike the Blue Trail which was approximately 3.6 miles. It is an easy trail so suitable for anyone. There are a few historic buildings along the way such as a few old barns and the Hoyt House which is currently being restored.
If you decide to venture off to other trails there are a lot of other interesting finds hidden in the forest including a cemetery that dates back to 1700. Also do not forget the Mills Mansion. The mansion has been restored and if you have time tours are available. We did not go on a tour but I would like to on our next visit.
We had intentions of continuing our hike and to check out another trail after we were done however as the day started to warm up we soon realized it was time to go.
After stopping for a quick lunch of pizza in New Paltz we headed to one our favorite spots. Nostrano. This is a family own vineyard located in Milton, NY. I have been coming here for several months now and we make it a point to visit everytime we are in the area. They have great wines however one of my favorites is the Ava Rose. It is soo yummy. It is a nice dry Rose with notes of Watermelon. Great for a summer afternoon. I love it so much we ended up buying a case to take home. It’s going to be a great winter.
Not only is the wine great but the family is amazing. Every time we visit it feels l like we are visiting our friends and family. We also always order a bottle of wine and sit outside overlooking the vineyards and the view of the mountains. It really is a great way to end an amazing weekend. I would recommend visiting for a tasting and considering staying for a bottle of wine and their amazing cheese plate. It is out of this world.
So have I convinced you to plan a trip the Hudson Valley. It really is a gem. There is so much to see and do and it is a great alternative to fighting all the traffic heading to the Hamptons.
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