The Capital Region of Albany, New York can get a bad rap sometimes with people from down state around NYC. Mostly, this is due to the way people view the differences between the two areas. Generally upstate New York is less densely populated, so there are fewer places to eat, shop, dance and drink.
But alas, while true this is a comparison of apples and oranges. Both are great, but you won't find great skiing or camping in Manhattan and while Albany's bars and clubs are decent you can't beat the Brooklyn music scene.
To sum that up, it's just not fair to compare the two with the same set of criteria. Upstate New York in its own right has some of the most beautiful camping grounds, lakes and nature trails of any part of the country. No matter the season there are countless activities. During the summer there are beaches for sunbathing, trails for hiking as well as lakes and streams for fishing. While the winter time has opportunities for hitting the countless skiing and snowmobiling trails.
Grafton Lakes State Park is one of these places where you can find all of these things and more. Only a 45 minute drive from Albany, New York it is a popular destination for tourists and families from all over the Capital Region from Albany to Saratoga.
The main attraction at Grafton is the beach on Long Pond, which is one of 5 ponds in the 2,357 acres. It is considered one of the best beaches in the Capital Region for its cleanliness, expansive stretch of sandy shoreline and amenities such as volley ball, many life guard stations and picnic areas shaded under the edge of the forest and overlooking the water.
Home to some 20 miles of trails, some of which include old Native American paths centuries old, there is more than a full days worth of hiking to explore all the areas around the lake. In the winter time some of these turn into groomed trails available for skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
In the spring time they make for good spots to find along the more secluded areas of the lakes to enjoy a sunset.
With so many miles of trails you can find a place to sit and ponder some of the deeper meanings of life and take in the beautiful surroundings.
The park also offers a boat launching service on Long Lake where you can take out canoes, paddle boats, and kayaks for $20 dollars per day or $5 dollars an hour.
Popular with couples and families you can spot many on the lake taking off to more remote areas on the far side where you find less crowds.
Fishing along the shore of any of the ponds is a relaxing experience and one which I haven't entertained in quite some time, being an avid angler in my youth. Several species of fish can be found including large mouth bass, brown trout, bluegill, rainbow trout and rock bass among others. Remembering the many mornings and evenings sitting on docks, piers and lake shores, bass put up the best fight of any of these. I think I remember losing many a line when they swam out into the rocks and under bridges.
Also worth mentioning is the playground, miniature golf, concession stand, bridle paths, bike trails and small game hunting (during Wabbit season of course) available. At only $8 dollars per car to get into the park, $5 when the beach is closed, this option is affordable and a perfect outing for any weekend well within reach of the surrounding Capital Region.
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Fan of the outdoors? What is your favorite activity during the summer time?