About an hour and a half away from the city, Malouf’s Mountain is a camping resort that offers amenities you typically won’t have while camping on your own.
Getting to the campground is interesting. From Grand Central, hop onto an 80-minute ride on the Metro North and get out at the Beacon station. From there, you won’t be able to miss the green Malouf’s Mountain shuttle bus waiting for you. The bus takes you to the trailhead of your choice and you hike your way to camp while they bring your bags to your campsite for you.
The campground offers two types of sites: platform and primitive. Platform sites are covered and equipped while the primitive site simply guarantees you a space with a campfire and you bring everything else.
As total novice campers, my mom, Joan, and I decided to try out the “platform site with a tent” option. The idea is brilliant. If you typically don’t go camping, why spend money on buying camping gear? The beauty in Malouf’s Mountain is that you can just bring along some bug spray and your sleeping bag, while leaving almost everything else up to the staff, who know what you need and don’t need.
Whether you opt for a platform or primitive site, the sites are well spaced out in order to optimize comfort and privacy. Our platform site was within yards of two others but it felt like we had our own piece of the woods. The landscaping and scenery are beautiful, but even more so is watching the sunset over the mountains in the region. Funny enough, the best view might be from bathhouse.
Like every platform site, ours came with a chow box consisting of pots and pans, five gallons of water, two chairs, plates, cups, cooking utensils, a picnic table and a gas stove.
Wanting the full experience, we decided to forgo use of the gas stove for campfire cooking. The only problem was, how do we start the fire? Luckily for us, from time to time, Office Manager Tracy Statini and others drive by the paths on an ATV to see how everyone’s managing at their sites. You can wave them down if you need any assistance. And we did. Tracy showed us naive city gals how to start a fire (hint, you need more than a few twigs and a lighter) as well as how to start up a propane lantern, which each platform site has hooked up.
If you don’t want to bring in your own food, Malouf’s provides a bunch of options that you can choose from such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken, fish, steak, pancakes, bacon, chilli, baked potato and more. We decided to have chicken and potatoes for dinner as well as pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast. When you arrive to your site, the food is already waiting for you in a cooler. Just toss it on the grill!
As someone who isn’t outdoorsy, the idea of going to the bathroom while camping seemed a bit daunting at first. But I was thrilled to see that the bathhouse, which contains toilets, various sinks, washing machines and showers, was absolutely pristine. There was not one speck of dirt or a wandering bug to be seen. I’m not sure how they maintain it so well but it really spoke to Malouf’s claim of being “a fully catered camping resort.”
Your experience at the campground is as peaceful as you want it to be or as lively as you make it. While some campers retreated to their tents for an early night, others ordered more food and beer to consume while playing the guitar around the campfire. There’s a picnic area where you can hang out and chat with other campers, and, on some occasions, watch movie screenings. If you’re looking for activities to do at your site, the vending area provides ample board games.
The personal touch adds to the uniqueness of Malouf’s Mountain. Everyone from owner Dick Malouf to staff members like Tracy, Brian and Sheila made this experience all the better. It didn’t matter how old you were or where you came from, they treated everyone like family. Even on the ride up, in the very green Malouf’s Mountain shuttle bus, Dick made it a point to wave at everyone he passed by.
When leaving the camping resort, you leave the same way you came: hiking. The shuttle bus, equipped with your belongings, picks you up at the trailhead and whisks you back to the train station.
While many return to their lives in the city, a lot of people make return trips to the camping ground, Tracy said to me once while we watched a couple play with their child at the picnic area. The mother started coming here before she had her son and now they’re sharing this time together. A lot of campers come back, she said. I understand why.
Since this is a hike-in, hike-out camping ground, be prepared. There are four hiking options, ranging from a 30-minute hike to an all-day hike. If you are not typically active or have never gone hiking before, I recommend the 30-minute hike. If you are up for the longer and challenging trails, there are beautiful views from atop Mount Beacon, which is the highest peak of Hudson Highlands at an elevation of 1,611 feet.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions, the staff wants to teach you as much about mountain living as possible.
No cars are allowed at the site. If you rather drive, your best bet is to park overnight at the Beacon station. Parking is free. Just avoid the permit-only spots.