Ask anyone why they go camping and you’ll get a different answer. Some people love the tradition. Some people “rough it” to connect with nature and disconnect from the digital world. For others, it’s a way to improve health, strengthen relationships, and develop life skills. Whatever your motives or in-TENT-sions are, camping is an immortalized Adirondack activity, and you can do it right here in the Whiteface Region!
Set away from the noise and crowds, the Taylor Pond DEC campground is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to retreat into nature for a night or two this summer. In fact, the Taylor Pond Campground on Taylor Pond in the Taylor Pond Wild Forest (try saying that ten times fast) is the only development on the body of water. Surrounded by so much nature, this campground is a great place to get out camping while still having some of the comforts of a campground.
A little information
The Taylor Pond Campground is located in Ausable Forks and is open for camping roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day. Unlike more densely populated campgrounds, Taylor Pond only has thirty sites, which makes it ideal for those really looking for solitude. Twenty-five sites are drive-in and five interior sites are boat-access only. Up to 30-foot RVs can be accommodated at some sites. Due to its remote location, this is a primitive campground; there are no flush toilets or other amenities. However, there are outhouses and water spigots at various locations.
I'm in a tent!
To get the full Taylor Pond experience, I thought it would be best to spend a night onsite. To reserve a campsite at a DEC campground, the online portal on ReserveAmerica is used. This allows campers to see a map of the property that can be used to select a site and see availability, and make payments online. Having never been before, I didn’t have a “favorite” site to return to, so I opted for a site that seemed secluded and peaceful.
Mid-week proved to be a quiet time, so my fiancé and I thought it would be perfect for relaxing. After setting up our tent, we thought we would go explore the area a bit, maybe head out onto the pond for some canoeing or climb a nearby mountain to take in the views. Or maybe we'd stick to my usual and go birding. The world was our oyster. As it turns out, there was a lot to do here.
Exploring by water
Of course, you’d be remiss to not get out on Taylor Pond itself while you’re here. My fiancé and I love to paddle, so when there was a lull in the wind, we launched our canoes at the official boat launch, which is just beyond the registration booth on the left. With more than 8-miles of explorable shoreline, I knew this would be fun. The prevailing winds can create rough conditions, so I recommend staying close to shore, which is what we did. If you don't have your own canoe, the campground has rentals available.
One important thing to note is that Taylor Pond, unfortunately, is home to the non-native, invasive Eurasian watermilfoil. This plant poses no threat to humans, but its spread can cause devastating effects to ecosystems. Be sure to clean all boats and equipment to help prevent to spread of non-native invasive species!
Aside from paddling, water recreationalists can spend their time fishing. Taylor Pond is deep; the maximum depth is 95-feet. These conditions are perfect for lake trout and landlocked salmon, but the pond is also home to brown bullhead, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and rainbow smelt. (Rumor has it that some lakers can be caught upwards of 10-pounds!)
Exploring by land
Hiking was another item on our to-do list, and, as luck would have it, there are options right near the campground. With a parking lot off Nelson Road, just before the campground entrance, the Taylor Pond Trails are great to explore. 0.4-miles from the parking area, the trail spits into Taylor Pond North (right) and Taylor Pond South (left). Passing right through the campground, the North Trail is a great choice if you’re camping. (If you aren’t, don’t worry. Hikers can pass through at no cost.) In total, the North Trail is 3.6-miles long (one-way) and leads to a lean-to. The South Trail also ends at a lean-to, but only extends 2.6-miles (one-way) from the parking area and is more gentle.
Having never hiked either trail, we opted to test-drive the North Trail since we could hop on right from the campground. We didn’t see another hiker the entire time and greatly enjoyed this peaceful hike.
Or you can opt for a different habitat and take an extremely cool and pleasant walk through a bog. No fear, you won't get lost here; there’s a boardwalk on the Silver Lake Bog Trail, provided by the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. (This is one of my favorite places to go birding, by the way.) Extending beyond the Bog Trail is a short, slightly uphill climb to the Silver Lake Bluffs. By far, this is one of the best bang-for-your-buck hikes.
Booking our next stay
After a day exploring, it felt good to return to our campsite and prepare a hearty meal. Of course, no camping trip is complete without what my fiancé calls "cowboy beans." He made some before we left home, and we heated them up over the fire for dinner. After dinner, we spent the remainder of the evening listening to the fire crackle and enjoying the sounds of the nature around us. When the fire began to die down, we crawled inside the tent and drifted off to sleep.
I’ve stayed at a lot of DEC campgrounds, but Taylor Pond is definitely up there on my list. I like the remoteness and solitude that can be found here. But if your jam is closer to town, friendly motels are not far. You can experience Taylor Pond with a day-use pass, available at the DEC registration booth.
I’m already planning our next trip to Taylor Pond. Even though I like the quiet, if you see us at the next site over, be sure to stop and say hi!