New York State campgrounds are pretty great! So when it was announced that a new one was opening up in April, 2016, we thought it would be worth trying. We had actually visited this park two summers earlier when we stayed at Cherry Plain State Park, but at that time there was only a nice riverside picnic area and pavillion. To seal the deal, my cousin and her family live only ten miles away, which made it easy for them to join us and gave us all a "plan B" in case the weather turned ugly. We needn't have worried—the weather was delightful.
The park is situated on the east bank of the Hudson River. Although the name is Schodack Island State Park, there were really six islands here at one time. When the Hudson was dredged to improve shipping lanes, the channels between the islands was filled in. Unlike other island campsites in the state, this park is actually on a six-mile long peninsula that is easily reachable by car.
Towering over the island are two gigantic viaducts. One carries the Mass Pike Extension to connect with I-87, the New York State Thruway. The other is the Selkirk railway bridge. At one time, freight trains travelling from New Jersey to New York City or New England, crossed the Hudson at Poughkeepsie. A disastrous 1974 fire took that bridge (now rebuilt as "Walkway Over the Hudson") out of service. In the forty years since then, trains have to take a 200-mile detour to get to New York City. The campsite is situated between two rail lines on either side of the river. While this might seem to be a problem, I found the occasional sound of a freight or AMTRAK train traffic oddly soothing.
The campground is organized into three loops, two of which have electrical hook-ups for RVs & campers; our shady loop had tents only, and I noticed only bicycles at a couple of sites. The terrain near the river is flat and ideal for long bike treks between New York City, Albany and points north. Sites are decently-sized, level and have a layer of sandy soil, all of which made for a comfortable tent experience.
The park rangers frequently drove through the loops in electric carts. You can order firewood for $5 for generous bushel, and the rangers deliver it right to the campsite! two bushels were plenty for two nights of cooking and campfires. The also deliver ice at $2 per 5 lb. bag.As a result of the frequent patrols, the campgraound was pretty quiet on Saturday night. On Sunday night, our adjacent sites were the only ones occupied.
The single most outstanding memory I have of our vist was the dozens and dozens of fireflies! They came out at dusk (around 9PM at this time of year) and remained well past my bedtime. Because the forecast was a nice big fat Bermuda high, we were able to forego the tent's rainfly entirely. We have a Eureka Tetragon tent that has large windows on all four sides and a large area of mesh at the top. This made the firefly show even better, as one could lie back in the sleeping bag and take it all in until sleep arrived.
We also have a Wenzel screenhut. Every time we go camping, I am always on the fence about whether to bring it or not. It's big, heavy and on some trips we rarely use it. On this trip, we got a lot of use out of it. My boys played a lot of games with their 7-year old second cousin, K. Uno and Skip-Bo are the most played games.
My cousin and I are both teachers, so our summer time is flexible. Our spouses were able to get Monday off, so Sunday night, we had the loop to ourselves! It was fantastic! (and quiet.)
Unfortuately, I didn't get a proper park map until we left on Monday morning. There seems to be a decent network of hiking trails in the park. I'd be curious to check these out if we camp here again.
We always enjoy camping with friends or family. In this case, it's family who are also good friends! All in all, we had a very nice time at Schodack island State Park. It doesn't hold a candle to nearby Cherry Plain SP, in terms of activities or remoteness, but it's off to an excellent start! The firefly show was spectacular and the park is convenient to the cute village of Hudson, Frederick Church's Olana, and the Martin van Buren NHS in Kinderhook.