Moreau Lake State Park

moreau lake state park bridge

By Lauren Hittinger

This summer I'm visiting local state parks and sharing the scoop on each one. I've already visited Grafton Lakes State Park and Peebles Island. Today I venture a little farther north with a visit to Moreau Lake State Park.

Located at the northern edge of the Capital Region, Moreau Lake State Park is going to be a bit more of a drive for some people, but it's worth a visit. The day use amenities are not unique, but the size and natural setting of the park is.

Moreau Lake State Park is certainly one of the more beautiful local state parks, and there's lots of space to explore.

Location

Moreau Lake State Park Map

Moreau Lake is located 10 miles north of Saratoga Springs. It is very close to I-87, so even though it might be a bit of drive depending on from where you're coming, the directions are easy.

History

The area around Moreau Lake was originally a summer home for George W. McAdam, a wealthy attorney. Throughout the early 1900s the area became a seasonal campground, and cabins were constructed along the lake in the 1940s. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began to acquire land in the town of Moreau and officially established the park with 600 acres in 1967. Over time more and more land has been added, and now Moreau State Park includes more than 4,100 acres. That makes Moreau the 10th largest New York State park, and the largest park in the Saratoga-Capital District Region.

Camping

moreau_lake_state_park_occupied_camp_site.jpg

Camping is huge at Moreau Lake State Park. There are 150 sites, including a couple cabins, and pricing starts at $19 a night. Each site is arranged slightly differently, but you can expect an open area, picnic table, and cement fire pit.

The sites are well-spaced, and it seems like they have very nice shared restroom and shower facilities. I saw quite the variety of campers at Moreau, from small tents to entire RV setups.

Hiking and walking paths

There are many opportunities for hiking and nature walks at Moreau. The most frequented trail runs from the main picnic area to the camp sites on the other side of the lake. I particularly enjoy that route because there's a foot bridge that crosses the lake, which is just tall enough for kayakers to pass under. That particular path is wide and well-maintained, so you don't have to worry as much about poison ivy and ticks. More adventurous people can wander off onto any of the other trails, including some nice paths along the parameter of the lake.

There's also the Western Ridge Trail, which runs about 6 miles along the Hudson River, with multiple scenic overlooks. (Here's an account of hiking the trail, at Jackie Donnelly's Saratoga woods and waterways blog.)

Boating

Moreau is a great spot to bring your boat or kayak for a leisurely paddle around the lake. Since it is one large, continuous lake, it's great for families. If you don't have your own equipment, it's available for rent, but the boat launch is away from the main beach area.

Beach

moreau_lake_state_park_beach_of_moreau.jpg

The beach at Moreau Lake is passable. It's one of the smallest beaches out of the local state parks, but it gets the job done. They have nice facilities, a snack bar, and lifeguards.

If a beach is your main attraction to a park, I would suggest you try Grafton Lakes State Park instead. But if you're just looking to lay out for a bit or dip your toes in the water, Moreau will work.

Day use options

When I visited Moreau on a Sunday afternoon, it was quite crowded with families. Many people brought entire cookouts with them, including a grill and tables cloths. The picnic facilities are plentiful, but I'd assume prime locations get scooped up quickly. There are also not as many camping grills as some other parks.

One of the big advantages to Moreau is that everything is close by. A playground with three different sets of equipment was right in the middle of the picnic facilities. And the beach was not far off. Both children and adults could be doing slightly different activities and still be close.

Other notables

moreau_lake_state_park_inside_the_nature_center.jpg

+ Along the edge of the beach, there's a nice little nature center. There are quite a few taxidermy animals, and nature samples like unusual tree trunks. The center also contained a few live turtles and snakes. While it isn't completely hands-on, there was a very knowledgeable staff member who shared quite a few interesting anecdotes about the animals and other life in the nature center and the surrounding park. He even helped a girl identify her live insect as a dragonfly, not a damselfly.

+ Moreau also has a wealth of activities in the winter, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. They even have a warming hut for winter visitors who need a little break from the great outdoors.

Fee

There is an entrance fee for the park of $8 per vehicle. Camping, pavilion, and equipment rentals are additional.

If you're planning on visiting a lot of state parks this summer, I highly encourage you to buy the Empire Passport park pass, which allows unlimited entry for $65 a year.

Lauren writes about shopping, crafting, and living well on a small budget at The Thrifty Ginger.

Find It

Moreau Lake State Park
605 Old Saratoga Rd
Gansevoort, NY 12831

Comments

Love this series - we have some great state parks in our area.

I really like Moreau for cook-outs and swimming. I'm about equal distances from Grafton and Moreau. But since I've discovered Moreau, I haven't bothered going back to Grafton. Even when at capacity, Moreau feels much less crowded than Grafton. The water is pretty clear for a lake and the newer restrooms near the picnic areas are nice. Moreau feels much more family-friendly.

But can I bring my horse? Several local parks allow riding on the trails but I've never looked into Moreau. I'd love to know about that option for use as you visit each park :)

Loving the series!

That map shows 600+ feet elevation change on those hiking trails... and the map linked off nysparks mentions many 'scenic overlooks' over both the Hudson and the lake side. Looks really cool - I didn't know this park existed!

If you don't mind the climb to get to the top (and back down), the gently rolling hiking trails up on the plateau are fantastic. Mountain bikers and hikers keep them worn enough without overusing them, and there is little undergrowth. The ridge trail mentioned runs along the north side of the plateau but other trails criss-cross various pine and/or hardwood habitats. Gorgeous, cool in the summer, and a taste of the Adirondacks without driving so far.

The climb to the plateau takes this fit 60+ lady about a half hour. Fit young folk should be faster!

The area's orienteering club, Empire Orienteering Club, has made detailed topo maps of all the state parks in the region and more, and holds navigation trainings and competitions on them on a rotating basis. This spring we visited Grafton Lakes plus a few smaller town parks; last fall we were at Peebles Island, and last spring we hosted a national championship race at Moreau. If you want to practice fine navigating, or just brush up on your compass skills, watch our website for the schedule of events this fall. Or contact us to purchase orienteering maps of the parks.

empo.us.orienteering.org

check out Thacher Park and Thompsons Lake

For hiking, mountain biking, etc. you can follow Spier Falls Road to the boat launch part of the park. This location gives you access to many of the referenced trails, many of which were built by volunteers from members from the Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club and the Saratoga Mountain Mountain Bike Association. One that I particularly like starts across from the boat launch and passes a ruin of an old hotel built for workers who worked on the Spier Falls Dam. You can also connect those trails to the Grant Home, just be careful that you don't end up in the shooting range of the prison close by!

You can do a nice long loop hike by parking at the trailhead at the height of land on Spier Falls Rd, and going around the whole plateau. It's about 8 miles without too much up and down, and several good views.

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