Gilbert Lake State Park | Outdoorsy

Gilbert Lake State Park
Guide

Introduction

Nestled in the foothills of the Catskills in south-central New York, Gilbert Lake State Park features a lake, three ponds, and more than 12 miles of trails for year-round recreation. Offering swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, snowshoeing, skiing, and more, this New York state park is an easy choice for your next RV destination, with something to entertain every type of visitor.

Hikers will enjoy Gilbert Lake State Park’s 12 miles of interconnected trails winding through wooded, hilly terrain, while cross-country skiers and snowshoers can take advantage of the park’s trails in the winter. Boaters will enjoy the park’s kayak and rowboat rentals and swimmers can revel in the park’s swimming beach on its namesake lake. Even hunters will stay entertained as they try their luck at bow-only deer hunting within designated areas of the park. In addition to these many recreation options, Gilbert Lake State Park also boasts a rich history sure to interest any history buffs in your group. The park owes much of its development to the Civilian Conservation Corps, which visitors can learn more about at the park’s New York State Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.

Gilbert Lake State Park is open year-round and offers a mix of recreation options depending on when you visit. The park offers 135 total campsites spread across two campgrounds, with camping available from May to mid-October. Whether you're looking to pull the RV into a site with electric hookups or prefer sleeping under the stars in a more remote spot, Gilbert Lake State Park has you covered.

Share this Guide

Camping Accommodations

50'
Max RV length
50'
Max trailer Length
Electrical hookup
Water hookup
Generator use
Food storage
Sewer hookup
Dogs & cats

RV Rentals in Gilbert Lake State Park

Transportation

Driving

Situated in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains in central New York, Gilbert Lake State Park is located about 12 miles north of Oneonta and 18 miles southwest of Cooperstown. The park is located in Otsego County, with most of the park located within the town of New Lisbon.

Visitors can access the park from County Route 12, and can follow road signs leading up to the park. Once inside the park, visitors should drive with care as many of the roads inside the park are in need of repaving. In particular, guests planning to stay in the Hilltop Campground should note that the road up to the Hilltop Loop is steep and requires the appropriate caution in an RV. Visitors can park their rig at their campsite or in designated areas throughout the park, including near the basketball court past the park office, near the disc golf course, and near the swimming beach and Nature Center. The sites at Gilbert Lake State park can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet long and are all back-in.

Guests can take advantage of food concessions inside the park, but for more extensive supply needs, there are a handful of restaurants scattered within a few miles of the park, and a wide range of restaurants, stores, and gas stations in the town of Oneonta.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Gilbert Lake State Park

Campsites in Gilbert Lake State Park

Reservations camping

Hilltop Campground

Visitors have 135 RV sites to choose from at Gilbert Lake State Park. This New York state park features two campgrounds, with sites 1-57 located in Hilltop Campground and sites 58-135 located in Deer Run Campground. Hilltop Campground is located on the western side of Gilbert Lake, and offers a mix of standard sites and electric hookup sites, with the electric hookup sites offering 30- and 50-amp electric hookups. The campground has sites that can accommodate rigs of up to 50 feet, though all sites are back-in.

There are water spigots located throughout the campground, with a few campsites having private water spigots. There are no sewer hookups, so guests will have to make use of the dump station located near the entrance of the Deer Run Campground. The campground also features two restrooms, a horseshoe pit, and a swing set. Guests can also take advantage of easy access to Beach-Hilltop Trail and Briggs-Hilltop Trail. These sites are pet-friendly and are available from early May to early October and can be reserved online up to nine months in advance.

Deer Run Campground

Deer Run Campground is located on the eastern side of Gilbert Lake and is home to sites 58-135. As with the Hilltop Campground, Deer Run Campground offers a mix of electric and non-electric sites, with the electric sites offering 30- and 50-amp electric hookups. All sites in this campground are pet-friendly and can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet long -- back-in only.

Guests can make use of the water spigots located throughout the campground, as well as the dump station located near the campground entrance. The campground also features two horseshoe pits, a few swing sets, and multiple restrooms. Guests can also take advantage of easy access to hiking trails from a couple of spots within the campground. The electric sites in this loop are available from mid-May to mid-October, and the non-electric sites are available from late May to early September. These sites can be reserved online up to nine months in advance.

Alternate camping

Off-site Campgrounds

If the campground was full at Gilbert Lake State Park, you won't have to go far to find a place to park the RV for the night.

Glimmerglass State Park is around 40 minutes north and offers an additional 47 campgrounds. Some are basic, while others offer electrical hookups. You may want to reserve early if you want to snag a spot here though, as sites fill up quickly during the busy summer months.

Bowman Lake State Park sits about 50 minutes to the west of Gilbert Lake and is equipped with over 150 sites, though none of them offer hookups of any kind.

If you're looking to park the rig somewhere with more modern facilities, consider heading to the Cooperstown KOA, just north of Glimmerglass. Here you'll be treated to full hookups and spacious campsites to boot.

Cabins

If you'd like to get out of the campervan for a night or two during your time at Gilbert Lake State Park, then stay in one of the 33 cabins available at the park. These cozy cottages are equipped with modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing, and guests will find full kitchens, bathrooms, and between one and two bedrooms in each cabin. There are also fireplaces, screened-in porches, and picnic tables and fire rings outside.

There are numerous pet-friendly cabins and some cabins that are ADA-accessible. The cabins are available from May to October, and reservations can be made up to nine months in advance.

Seasonal activities in Gilbert Lake State Park

Off-Season

Fishing

Don't hesitate to pack your rod and reels in the Airstream when you visit Gilbert Lake State Park, because there might be a few rainbow trout or largemouth bass with your name them. The clear waters of the lake have proven to be plentiful, and the park is a great spot if you want to get away from the crowds. You can drop a line via boat, or cast out from the fishing pier on the south side of Gilbert Lake. Wherever you choose to fish, make sure you have a current New York state fishing license.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Visitors who park the campervan at Gilbert Lake State Park in the snowy winter months will be able to experience an entirely different side of this New York state park. When snow hits the ground, the park’s 12 miles of trails become available for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, who can trek along the CCC Trail, Deer Run Trail, Red Pine Trail, and more in their skis or snowshoes. Visitors should note these routes are also open to snowmobiles in winter, so be prepared to share the trails.

Hunting

Gilbert Lake State Park is also a popular destination for hunters, as the park allows hunting in designated areas. Visitors can try their luck at bow-hunting for deer and turkey, and at bow-hunting and air gun-hunting for furbearers—including bobcat, weasel, raccoon, skunk, fox, mink, and coyote. You can also take aim at some small game, including cottontail rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, ruffed grouse, and bobwhite quail. As always, hunters should obey all New York State DEC regulations and ask park rangers for additional information.

Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

The history buffs in your group will love the chance to brush up on their knowledge about the Civilian Conservation Corps during your RV trip to the park. Much of Gilbert Lake was built with the help of the CCC, along with many other state parks around New York and the rest of the country. The on-site museum will take you back in time to learn about their work through photos and memorabilia, and hopefully, you'll gain a better understanding of what makes this park, and many others, so special.

In-Season

Picnicking

After a full day of exploring the park, you can relax at one of the parks many picnic tables. There picnicking areas located all around the lake and most tables are situated in the shade. If you are camping with a group or are hosting an event, you can always rent out one of the park's three shelters. If you are staying overnight, you also have the option to dine right outside of the pop-up at your own private table.

Swimming

Visitors eager to escape the summer heat can plan to head straight to Gilbert Lake State Park’s swimming beach, located on the northern end of the park’s namesake lake, close to the Nature Center and boat rental area. The swimming season stretches from the end of May to early September, so visitors hoping to take advantage of the park’s swimming opportunities should schedule their trip for the warm summer months. Guests can use the multiple parking areas located close to the swimming beach for easier access.

Boating

Those who would prefer to soak up the beauty of Gilbert Lake by boat will be happy to know that Gilbert Lake State Park makes boating in the park very easy, offering both rentals and a launch area for personal boats. Visitors can rent kayaks and rowboats from the park at the boat rental area on the northern end of the lake next to the Nature Center. Those bringing their own boats along behind the Sprinter can take advantage of the launch area that is located a short distance from the parking area for personal non-motorized boats. Boat rentals are available from May to early September.

Hiking

There are plenty of hiking options for visitors eager to stretch their legs after a long ride in the motorhome and explore the park’s 1500 acres on foot. The park offers more than 12 miles of interconnected trails winding through wooded, hilly terrain and past the park’s lake and ponds. For a mile-long hike around the park’s central feature, hikers can hop on Gilbert Lake Trail, which wraps around the park’s namesake lake. To explore the less popular areas of the park, hikers can instead check out Ice Pond Trail, Spring Pond Trail, and Twin Fawns Trail, which take visitors up to the northern edges of the park, winding past Ice Pond, Spring Pond, and Lake of the Twin Fawns.