Gilbert Lake State Park, NY

Among our favorite campgrounds is Glimmerglass State Park, at the end of Otsego Lake opposite where Cooperstown resides. But when we made our reservations, the pandemic had not hit the US, yet Glimmerglass was already booked solid for this week in June.

What a fortuitous bump! We discovered Lake Gilbert State Park, slightly farther from Cooperstown than Glimmerglass, to the south and west. Gilbert is much smaller than Otsego but still lovely and popular. 


 Our site, #2, gets quite a lot of morning and early afternoon sun, necessitating some AC, but it is elevated and relatively private. John, Mary, and Riley are next door in site 3. The only disadvantage of the two sites was that J&M were next to a dusty grail trail going right beside them up to a ball field (not marked on the maps) that no one appears to ever use. The staff, however, would drive up there occasionally, casting dust in J&M’s living space.

The camp area we chose is one of 2 in the campground (called Hilltop) and is grassy and open, with stately trees scattered around the middle and a large bathhouse with 4 private toilet/showers and the usual men’s and women’s group areas. There is also a dishwashing station, and a washer and dryer, but we had some reservations about the clothes washing area, as it’s outside with the dishwashing area.

When we checked in, the group bathhouse areas were closed, but the 4 private rooms were disinfected several times daily. By the time we checked out, the whole bathhouse was open.

There were 4 large RVs there when we arrived and it became obvious they were all together. None of them wore masks the whole time we were there, and they gathered at one site or another to eat and party together. This only got annoying on Friday night when “Green Shirt” had a few too many beers and began talking VERY LOUDLY and being quite obnoxious. One family among the group had mounted a large boar’s head on a step ladder at the hitch end of their rig, and upon its head was an enormous MAGA hat. ‘Nuff said.

Along with Riley, there were a number of dogs there—most were well-behaved—with whom Riley wanted to be friends. So he’d whine and bark sometimes upon seeing some of his species about, which, in some cases, set the other dogs to barking.

The days we were at Gilbert Lake were sunny and quite warm, but there was little humidity. Every afternoon gray clouds would roll in and we could hear thunder in the distance, but it only showered on us once. Riley has anxiety issues with thunder, but on only one evening did he need his “thunder jacket,” actually a dog life vest for water, to ease his discomfort.

The calm after the storm

The downsides of Gilbert Lake for bicyclists are 2: First, the state of the paved roads is terrible (broken up, patched, and pitted); and second, there are no rail-to-trail conversions anywhere in the area that we could find.

On the 19th (Juneteenth) Jack and I took a short 7-mile tour of the area, sticking to the pubic roads in the campground, checking out the enormous cabin area (33 or so, some of which were built by the CCC back in the 30s or 40s), the beach and concession areas (beach open, concessions closed), and the lower, larger camping loop (called Deer Run maybe?). That camp loop was partially open with 3 RVs in sites, but the staff were doing work around the loop, probably preparing for the July 4th holiday-goers. That campground area is closer to the lake’s beach and is the home of the only dump station in the entire complex.

Saturday the 20th, Jack ran in to the nearest village (Morris) to do a reconnoiter and some laundry. Other than the laundromat, there’s nothing of significance in Morris (not even a grocery store). Meanwhile, I took a ride to check out the path circumnavigating the lake. Signs warn folks from entering, calling it a service road, and the folks at the camp store said there weren’t any bike trails on site, but I took my bike around anyway—John and Mary had walked Riley along the path and reported it to be okay for bikes, so I rode. A spot or three needed some extra care to avoid roots or rocks, but it was just fine.

I did 2 loops of the ride down the hill to the camp store and back to the point where I joined the lake road, circumnavigated the lake, and then climbed back up the steep hill to Hilltop. On one of the tours of the camp store, I saw a Cooper’s hawk lift from the ground near the road and make some effort to get airborne. My guess was that it was carrying something it had caught by the road. 

All told, my ride was about five miles each loop, with the lake path being a bit over a mile. One time I did the lake trail counter-clockwise, and the other time I did it clockwise.

Jack got back around 11:30 and John came puffing up to get the car to go back and fetch Mary & Riley. Mary had twisted her ankle and fallen down on her knee along one of the hiking paths, ending up with a significant scrape on her knee and a sore ankle. She was fine, only embarrassed, but walking was a bit of a challenge for her.

After lunch (and ministering to Mary’s wound and resting her ankle) we all set off for Cooperstown. Mary thought that a gentle walk around the town would ease some of the stiffness and swelling in her ankle, which John wrapped with an Ace bandage.

A stroll and an ice cream later, J&M drove up toward Glimmerglass, and Jack and I hit the grocery store for the goods to make a Dutch Oven dinner for us all the next day, on our final night together.

On Father’s Day Sunday, J&M headed north to link up with Mary’s brother at a half-way point for them both. Jack and I had a lazy day reading and napping. Every day of our stay we heard and saw a Cooper’s hawk circling overhead—possibly a mate to the one I saw on my solo ride on the 20th. 

I fixed the DO goulash dinner for us and we enjoyed the meal and a quiet evening around the fire, which, as usual, included some distant thunder, some gray clouds, and a sprinkle thrown into the mix. 


On June 22, we packed up our houses on wheels. J&M headed south, back to Pine Grove Furnace State Park in PA en route to their home and garden; and Jack and I headed north and east to New Hampshire and an old friend, Ashuelot River Campground in Swanzey, NH.


A Morgan Show and Rally?

One of the things I forgot to mention about Glimmerglass State Park is that a significant colony of crows hangs out there, and makes a tremendous racket every morning.

With the heater on overnight, it’s not much of a problem, and I like crows anyway. But just sayin’.

The crows weren’t nearly as noisy as all the children that came in for the weekend. We were surprised at how full the campground got – of course, it might have been because of the Morgan Rally.

When JB mentioned there was to be a Morgan gathering up at the Museum House (Hyde House) I was really looking forward to seeing lots of horses.

Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be leetle, low-riding cars that looked like MGs. Actually, they were pretty cool. I looked up the Morgan Car Company and it’s a family-run biz that’s been in Worcestershire, England since 1910.

This was a “Quite British” event, with the tweeds and fine hounds, and some of the folks were going to participate in a race after the show, and they wore early 20th century leather “helmets” with goggles.

Selfie with Morgan logo.

The weather persisted in being gloomy, and every day you could smell rain coming or just past; we never got our bikes off the rack, and never got back into Cooperstown. But Otsego Lake (“Glimmerglass Lake” in James Fenimore Cooper’s [1789 – 1851] Leatherstocking Tales) is beautiful in any light.

We gathered for a campfire at Ken and Dianne’s site to share a variety of Ken’s homemade cheeses and go-withs, had a final celebratory whisky to cheer friendships old and new, and hit the hay. We had (mostly) broken camp before the rain dumped over our final night at Glimmerglass and we got an early start for a mostly uneventful trip to Bald Eagle State Park in PA. 

None of us had ever been to this park before, so we were looking forward to seeing what it had to offer. We are also scheduled to have dinner with some of the Russell family, as we had done last year when Glo, Kerry and we had paused in this neck of the woods, not too far from Avis and Jersey Shore where Russell family cousins abound.

Jack and I drove straight to the campsite while the Hilton clan stopped in Woolrich at the Woolrich store. Meanwhile, JB and Martha had a leisurely departure from Glimmerglass since they had a Monday appointment for a dealership to have a look at his dash lights/breaking situation. Their Sunday night was promised to be spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Wilkes-Barre.

Lovely looking place, Bald Eagle SP: here’s our camp site (#92). How bad could it be, since we saw a bald eagle flying by as we set up? That makes 3 baldies for Jack (he saw one at Shenandoah River that I missed) and 2 for me.

We’re not likely to have robust cell service at Douthat State Park in VA, so I’m trying to upload this bit while it’s still possible. Much more about Bald Eagle SP in the next missive.


October 8, 2015
We headed out after the torrential rains and 100-year flooding in Floyd to “The Nawth.” Our original intention was to wagon-train our trailer and two campers of friends up to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, on the bucket list of one of the friends.


Health matters intervened, however, so the one among us who really REALLY wanted to see the Hall of Fame, and his wife, were unable to go. So it ended up being an RV and our Roomba heading from VA on Monday, Oct. 5, to stay at one of my fave places (as of our most recent trip): Pine Grove Furnace State Park in PA.




In the creek near the Iron Furnace, someone had done a lot of work to balance rocks in the stream.

We found a great little diner called (of course) The Lincoln Diner near the railroad tracks downtown and had a great lunch of sandwiches. Very friendly folks there, too.


Dinner was salmon on the grill, with delicious cole slaw that Gloria had made, and a wild rice mix — again, enjoyed around the blaze of a fire, all four of us sharing adult beverages and stories.

Before we left PA we stopped for some beer for me, at just about the only type of place PA allows folks to buy beer any longer — a specialty shop. They actually had some good craft beers, and I looked again for the “Fresh Squeezed IPA” from a brewery in Oregon (Deschutes). This beer has been highly recommended to me by a longtime friend in VA, and I thank you for that, Julia, because it is quite good. Yes, I found it at last, after striking out on my search during our last adventure to the northern climes. The only downside is I had to buy an entire case without having tried it. But between Julia’s advice and the enthusiastic recommendations of the two fellows running the beer store, I felt I was on solid ground jumping into the deep end and hauling a case of bottled beer around with us. I have not been disappointed!




Headed from Pine Grove Furnace to Glimmerglass State Park in New York next, which is a glorious campground near Cooperstown. Glimmerglass is at one end of Otsego Lake and CT is at the other. The whole place is quite picturesque.


Again, because of a later arrival, we had spaghetti that Gloria thawed for our meal, built a fire, and enjoyed beverages.

Next day, we all hopped into the car to see Cooperstown and send our Hall of Fame friend some photos. We all decided, however, that we’d save our actual visit to the HoF until all health issues are past and our friends can accompany us. It really will be much more interesting when there’s an enthusiast among us.

First stop was at the lakeside, where we read the following plaque:
“This part of Cooperstown has long been one of the most used access points to Otsego Lake for residents and visitors alike. When the first commercially successful steamboat company opened on Otsego Lake in 1871, this area developed as a pleasure ground. By 1894, ten private and public steamers were operating on the lake from this dock area. In 1902, part of the site was opened as a village park. Soon after the steamers stopped running in 1935, the village park achieved its present size. Today, docks still provide slips for local people’s boats, and a ramp allows boats on trailers to launch.
“The sidewheeler, ‘Natty Bumppo,’ named for James fenimore Cooper’s main character of the Leatherstocking Tales, first plied Otsego Lake in the summer of 1871. The original ‘Natty’ burned in 1872, but was quickly replaced by a second ‘Natty’ in 1873. The steamers linked the railhead at Richfield Springs with Cooperstown, allowing tourists to travel the last seven miles of their journey by water. Most camps along the lake had docks from which the campers could flag the boat to stop.


“Launching of ‘Mohican,’ 1905: The ‘Mohican,’ launched in 1905, was named for Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tale, The Last of the Mohicans. Able to carry 400 passengers, her maiden voyage from this park was a festive affair. ‘Mohican’ closed the steamboat era on Otsego Lake in 1935 when she was taken out of service.
“The village of Cooperstown acquired the park in 1901 and opened a new pavilion in 1902. By 1937, the boat livery and the steamboats were gone. The village demolished the pavilion and landscaped the park, giving it a more formal look with circular paths, lawns, and an open bandstand.”

Cooperstown is a simply beautiful downtown, and you don’t need to be a baseball fan to really enjoy the place. Certainly, most every business is baseball-centered, but the storefronts are lovely and the amenities are vast. We counted at least five ice cream stores, a couple of coffee houses, at least one bakery, and many interesting offshoot businesses along with the (often tongue-in-cheek) baseball paraphernalia stores. There’s evan a minor league stadium right in the downtown area.

This will be a totally lovely place to tootle around on a bicycle. The surrounding residential streets are full of B&Bs, small hotels, and renovated historic homes that are truly beautiful. You can tell this is a place that has been here a long time, occupied by folks who love it here.

I took so many photos, I’ll just arrange them into a gallery so you can pick and choose which ones you care to see.

We took a short jaunt out of town to hit a craft brewery that had been recommended to us by cycling friends: Ommegang Brewery just outside of Cooperstown. It serves food, so we headed there for lunch. Great place, very good beers, and a delicious lunch. I highly recommend a visit to my beer enthusiast friends.









Upon our return to Glimmerglass we wanted to get some exercise, and the ranger who checked us in had recommended a walk down to the lake and into the woods. She had also recommended a visit to an historic home perched on the side of the hill, but we elected not to pay the entrance fee to go inside. So we put on our hiking shoes and walked from our campsites to see the oldest covered bridge (no longer in service) in America, and then to the lake front and into the woods for a walk along a fire road for about a mile or so. The weather held to its glorious setting and we had a very fine time, indeed.

We shifted our dinner efforts from Kerry and Gloria’s setting to ours, as Jack grilled asparagus and pork loin for our shared dinner. I built the fire and we sat around it after dinner until the embers glowed red and all was quiet in the campground.

Then the rain began — the first less-than-stellar weather we’d experienced since leaving home. Heck, tomorrow is a travel day, so it might as well rain. Happily, before hitting the hay tonight, Jack and I had taken down and stowed the awning and the footprint, and all the stuff that normally sits under the awning before the rain began, at about 2AM.

Next stop: Little Pine State Park in PA, another new spot we will be able to check off our State Parks list.