Tag Archive 'John Dillon Park'

Jul 19 2019

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Civilized Camping

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Six years ago I discovered John Dillon Park tucked away in the Adirondacks, just north of Long Lake. Earlier this week I spent a night there again, while out promoting my most recent book, The Great Wild Silence. The place was even nicer than I remembered it being.

John Dillon Park is an unusual phenomenon, owned by International Paper, run by the students at Paul Smith’s College, and open to the public. The entrance to it off Route 30 is easy to miss, and the two-mile unimproved dirt road back to the Welcome Center is a little rough. But all nine shelters are well kept and easily accessible. Only one site can be driven to, but the five- or ten-minute walk to the others along a gravel path is nearly effortless.

“Making the natural landscape of the Adirondacks accessible to everyone,” is the principle behind the place, and both the paths and shelters are handicap accessible. Compost toilets, bear-proof food storage boxes, and bins full of firewood next to a metal fire ring – this is camping at its most civilized, I’d say. Roughing it, yes, but not by much.

I stayed in a shelter overlooking Grampus Lake, listening to a loon calling out at midnight and awakening to a chorus of songbirds in the morning. Only one other shelter was occupied and the air was perfectly still so I enjoyed the deep forest silence while I slept that night. Appropriate accommodations when one considers what I was doing on that trip.

I’d recommend the place to anyone young or old who wants a taste of the wild but doesn’t have the wherewithal to go backpacking. There are carts available in the parking lot for hauling in your stuff. Camping out doesn’t get much easier than that, short of car camping. And it’s free. All you have to do is reserve a shelter in advance.

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Aug 18 2013

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The Wild for Everyone

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John Dillon ParkAs I go around talking about the deep woods and all it has to offer, I often think about those who can’t reach it. One has to be ambulatory and in relatively good shape to hike several miles into a wilderness area. But there are ways that even people who use a wheelchair can access the wild.

Everything at John Dillon Park is handicap accessible – the shelters, trails, picnic areas, fishing access and kayak dock. Located on land owned by International Paper, halfway between Tupper Lake and Long Lake in the Adirondacks, this is one of the nicest parks I’ve ever seen. And the folks at Paul Smith College do a great job managing it.

I stayed overnight here while promoting my book last week. I was amazed by the place. At the end of a two-mile dirt road, John Dillon Park rests on the shores of Grampus Lake. Here anyone can experience the wonder and beauty of the northern forest. With free firewood, storage bins for food and trash, composting toilets, and potable water, it is primitive camping at its best.

At first I was hesitant to stay here, not wanting to take a shelter away from someone who could put it to better use. But this small, private park, only seven years old, is underutilized. So check out the John Dillon Park website and spread the word.

 

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