Gilbert Lake State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Nestled in the foothills of the Catskills, 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; boaters will enjoy the park’s kayak and rowboat rentals; cross-country skiers and snowshoers can take advantage of the park’s trails in winter; swimmers can revel in the park’s swimming beach on its namesake lake; and hunters can 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: visitors in the summer can take advantage of swimming and boat rentals from late May to early September, while visitors in the winter can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The park offers 135 total campsites spread across two campgrounds, with camping available from May to mid-October.

RV Rentals in Gilbert Lake State Park

Transportation in Gilbert Lake State Park

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 Transport

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 available from early May to early October and can be reserved online.

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. Sites in this campground can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet long and are 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, multiple swing sets, and multiple restrooms. Guests can also take advantage of easy access to hiking trails from a couple 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 also be reserved online.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Gilbert Lake State Park

In-Season

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 take advantage of multiple parking areas 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 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 and explore the park’s 1500 acres by 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.

Off-Season

Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing

Visitors who make the trip to 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 trails 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—and for small game—including cottontail rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, ruffed grouse, and bobwhite quail. As always, hunters should obey all New York State DEC regulations, and should ask park rangers for additional information.

Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

History buffs will be excited to learn that there is more to Gilbert Lake State Park than its extensive recreation options: the park also offers great ways for visitors to learn more about the history of the park and the region. In particular, the park is home to the New York State Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, which allows visitors to learn more about the history and legacy of the CCC camps and the men of the CCC, who developed many of New York’s state parks during the Great Depression.

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