Grafton Lakes State Park, on the forested plateau between the Taconic and Hudson Valleys, includes six ponds and nearly 2500 acres. Long Pond has a large, sandy beach, which is a popular summer attraction. Anglers can go after rainbow and brown trout in Long, Second and Shaver Pond. Pickerel, perch, and bass are abundant in all ponds including Mill Pond and walleye are found at the Martin-Durham Reservoir. All ponds have launch facilities for canoes, sailboats and rowboats, electric boat are allowed. Visitors also picnic, walk the nature trails, and hike, bike or ride horses along the 25 miles of park trails.
In winter, the trails are groomed for snowmobilers, and visitors may also snowshoe, cross-country ski, ice skate or ice fish when conditions permit, call for details.
The Shaver Pond Nature Center occasionally hosts nature programs and quarterly meetings for the Friends of Grafton Lakes State Park. It is located at: 194 Shaver Pond Rd. Grafton NY 12082
Current Water Quality - Beach Results
Household pets only; caged or on a leash not more than 6 feet, rabies vaccination and proof of same required. Not permitted in buildings or bathing areas.
Park is open year round, 8 am - dusk.
Day use/Picnicking/Nature: Available year round. 25 miles of designated trails.
May - weekends only;
Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day - daily;
After Labor Day through Columbus Day - weekends only.
2016 Boat Rentals (Rowboats, Canoes, Kayaks):
5/28 - 9/5, Fridays-Mondays, 10am-6pm
No boat rentals on Tuesday, Wednesdays & Thursdays.
2016 Swimming Season: 5/28 - 9/5, open daily; 10 AM - 6 PM
Large and small tents available for rental as well as 2 large shelters – please call the park office to reserve - (518) 279-1155.
The Beach Nature Center is open in July and August from Thursday to Monday, from 12-2 pm. Meet local critters, discover some wild wonders, and share your own nature tales with our environmental education volunteers at Long Pond beach.
Trails for mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. No ATV use allowed.
Winter Use (weather permitting): Ice Skating/Ice Fishing/XC Skiing/Snowshoeing/Snowmobiling: Snowshoe rental available at Park Office during office hours 8am – 4:30pm.
Deer and small game hunting are allowed in season.
Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.
Your key to all season enjoyment of state parks is our season's pass. For $65, the Empire Passport provides you unlimited day use vehicle entry into most of our parks. Apply on-line or call your favorite park for more information.
May - weekends only; $6/car
Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day - daily; $8/car
After Labor Day through Columbus Day - weekends only; $6/car
5/28 - 9/5, Fridays-Mondays, 10am-6pm.
No boat rentals on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays.
*$20.00 deposit plus a valid license/ID required for each boat.
There must be someone 18 or older in every boat.
Rowboats - $6/hour; $22/half day; $35/full day (limited quantity); 4 people max.
Canoes - $6/half hour; 2 people max.
Kayaks - $8/half hour; $15 per hour; $25 for two hours
$10 per day
$5 for 4 hours or less
New! Download this park's digital map to your iOS Apple and Android device.
Highlights of Grafton Lakes State Park:
• Grafton Lakes State Park comprises nearly 2500 acres of land within the surrounding landscape of the Rensselaer Plateau, whose extensive forests are home to black bear, river otter, and even moose. Located only 20 minutes from Troy, New York, the park provides excellent wildlife watching opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Look for tracks and animal signs along the trails, or better yet come snowshoeing in winter with the Park Naturalist for a guided tour of who’s been active in the woods.
• Shaver Pond is an example of an “oligotrophic” lake, low in nutrient levels with clean, clear oxygen-rich water. When you take a paddle, you may think the lake bottom is just a few feet down, but dip your paddle in some spots and you’ll discover just how crystal clear the lake truly is!
• The rocks in the forests in Grafton, once called Roxborough, have had a big impact on its cultural history. They are largely Rensselaer Greywackle, a type of sandstone that is very slow to degrade into poorly drained acidic soil. Imagine the perils of plowing this landscape for early settlers, and the many hours of back-breaking labor that would have gone into it. Grafton’s rocks and soils did not encourage farming, and by the late 1800s the farm fields and pastures had begun to return to the forest, just 100 years after the area was first inhabited by early American settlers. Look along the trails for old stone walls from this bygone era.
• Located off the Fire Tower Trail, the Dickinson Hill Fire Tower gives views of Massachusetts Berkshire Mountains, Vermont’s Green Mountains, and the Adirondacks. The Friends of Grafton Lakes State Park restored this fire tower in recent years, so climb its eighty steps to enjoy the spectacular view.
• Beavers have been active in the park since the 1930’s, when their numbers began to increase thanks to conservation efforts. They are responsible for many of the open wetlands in the park, and you will see signs of them along the shores of every pond in the park. They play a powerful role as engineers of the natural environment through the construction of dams. The dams help raise water levels to protect their lodges, and in turn provide more wetland habitat for other wildlife.
What will you see? Plan your visit today!
Look and Listen for these birds at our Park:
The many types of bird species in Grafton Lakes State Park, along with the surrounding forest lands of the Rensselaer Forest Tract resulted in the area being named an Important Bird Area by Audubon.
Everyone is a Steward: Be a Grafton Lakes State Park Hero!
For more information, please read our Trail Tips!
Ask a Naturalist!
Q: What kinds of fish are found in Grafton Lakes State Park?
A: I hear this question nearly as often as some little person asks me if Grafton has sharks in the water! No sharks, but plenty of fish. Grafton has many members of the sunfish family, including small and large mouth bass, pumpkinseeds, blue gill, and rock bass. The sleek chain pickerel, the "whiskered" brown bullhead, yellow perch, and varieties of trout also live in the park's ponds. Want to see for yourself? We offer free fishing clinics for young people on request, and also host a fishing clinic annually on the last weekend of June as part of Free Fishing Weekend, when no license is required.
Q: "Who made that?"
A: This is one of the questions I receive most from all sorts of people in response to all sorts of mysteries. It may come up when we're looking at a pile of a pine cone remains under a spruce tree, or a pair of round tracks with five toes and claws digging into the snow. Or perhaps even after a bird makes a sudden alarm call from the tree tops. The best part is the excitement that comes from figuring the answer out together! We have our detective skills, binoculars, field guides, and lots of other tools to help us track down answers to the wild's fascinating mysteries.
Q: Where should you take a hike with your family when visiting Grafton Lakes State Park?
A: One of the popular trail loops is the Shaver Pond Trail. Less than 2 miles in length, it brings you past wetlands, hemlock and maples, lakeshore and vistas, and is very doable for young hikers. In winter, you'll see signs of mink and deer aplenty, while in spring there is a chorus of little frogs, called Spring peepers, serenading all passersby. If you want some big views, take the hike up the Fire Tower Trail, which is 3 miles round trip. Along the way, there are some wet spots great for spotting animal tracks and some very busy beaver activity. Make sure to pick up a trail map at the park office before you head out!
Did You Know?
- DID YOU KNOW? Many of the exposed rocks you see in Grafton Lakes State Park were formed a mile down deep in the ocean below an ancient arc of volcanic islands, over 500 million years ago. Today they are sitting atop a Plateau at 1600 feet! A lot can change in 500 million years!
- LISTEN UP! Literally... you may hear the call of a Broad-Winged Hawk when you are hiking the trails at Grafton Lakes State Park. They are easier to hear above your head than to see in their forest home.
- DID YOU KNOW? Fast-flying Dragonflies start out their lives swimming in the water, as nymphs. While they lack wings during this stage, they are still fearsome predators of other aquatic creatures, even tadpoles.
Our programs are interdisciplinary and address both Common Core and Next Generation Science Standard in an outdoor setting. Students will explore, imagine, play and interpret the natural world around them. Programs typically run for about two hours, and the fee is $1-2/student depending upon resources required. Pre and post-program activities are generally available for all programs. Additional programs can be designed around other topics of interest. For large classes with older students, rotation programs may be designed that give students a multi-disciplinary experience in an outdoor setting for a half day at a rate of $3/student.
Programs Offered in Fall and Spring:
Busy Beaver (1st Grade):
Nature explorers will find beaver on all six lakes at Grafton Lakes State Park. How are beaver like us and how are they different from us? What is happening inside of a beaver lodge? We'll engage First graders' natural curiosity about wild creatures through this program of discovery. Students will also make a very quiet visit to an active beaver lodge.
Cycles of Nature (2nd Grade):
Cycles of nature are all around us! If your students have just learned about them in the classroom, then let us show them actively underway in our beauitful setting. We'll start with the story of the water cycle and weave it into the cycles of some of our local plants and animals through games, a scavenger hunt, and a pond explore.
"Go Fish" at Grafton lakes! (3rd Grade):
The park is known for its lakes and abundant wildlife, but which fish actually live in our underwater world? Come meet them by the pond! In collaboration with the I Fish NY program, the park brings students to Long Pond for this program about our local fish ecology, their life sycles and habitat needs. Kids will design their own fish suited to a pond habitat, play tag as a sunfish, and perhaps catch one off of Long Pond dam!
Lost & Found! Map & Compass Program (4th Grade):
People have used maps of all sorts for thousands of years to know and explore their world. Discover different types of maps and then use the parks orienteering map to go on an explore through the park. Programs can incorporate use of a compass on a simple or complex level, depending on pre-existing knowledge of students. If you opt for a treasure hunt version of program, note that these programs have a higher fee of $2/student to cover materials. If school has snowshoes, this program may be adapted for winter as well for classes of 25 or fewer students.
The Wonder of Microworlds (5th Grade):
What will you discover when you look closer at nature? Students will find the microscopic source of survival for all life on earth, found in our ponds and all the water that covers most of our planet. They'll dig into the forest floor, and collectively chart the diversity of forest floor life that is hidden beneath our feet. They'll even find inspiration, taking a new micro-perspective to foster some creative metaphors and poetry in Grafton's green surroundings.
Living with the Land, inspired by Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain (6th Grade):
When a book brings together survival in the wilderness, falconry and the unsupervised adventure of a 12 year old in the Catskills, what a 6th grader wouldn't be inspired? After reading My Side of the Mountain in school, students will practice some of the skills performed by its main character, Sam Gribley, in the setting of Grafton Lakes State Park. We'll make fire, find or create some shelters from natural elements, and discuss how the students would prepare for a night in the wilderness! Option to add math and creative writing to program as enrichment activities.
Biomimicry (7th Grade):
How did plants inspire the maker of your sneakers and butterfly wings inspire computer screens? Observant and innovative people have always looked at how nature accomplishes its many feats of survival, but now that awareness is emerging through modern technologies. Students will learn about biomimicry, one of the latest buzzwords in engineering, and imagine their own team-created inventions inspired from an exploration of the park.
EcoService (8th Grade):
On the verge of high school, your students can change the world, but do they know it? This program combines service and a chance to recognize what they could do as community leaders, now and in the future. Students will do a small-scale service project in the park, chosen through a group discussion with the class. They will also learn about the services that ecosystems provide for people and other living things, and how our choices affect those ecosystems.
Healthy Watersheds (9th Grade):
How do you define and measure the health of a watershed? Through field investigation, this program teaches 9th graders who live near the Rensselaer Plateau about tis value as the headwaters of seven regional watersheds, all of which are part of the larger Hudson River watershed. They will do chemical and physical surveys by Shaver Pond, and consider how human activity may impact the health of everyone downstream in the watershed.
Forest Ecology (10th Grade): Coming Soon!
Grafton Lakes State Park is nestled within the fifth largest forest in New York, atop the Rensselaer Plateau. How has this affected the soils, plant and animal diversity we see all around us? How are people's actions, past and present, affecting this forest's diversity? Come discover the stories told by the forests of Grafton Lakes State Park, a home to moose and black bear, all in your students' "backyard!"
For more information about our programs, please contact:
Park Naturalist Liz Wagner
518-279-1155 or Elizabeth.Wagner@parks.ny.gov
Key BCA Criteria:
-Migratory concentration site
-Diverse species concentration site
-Species at risk site
The Grafton Lakes BCA is within Grafton Lakes State Park. The forest community consists primarily of beech-maple mesic, hemlock-northern hardwood, and spruce-northern hardwood forests but also boasts over 70 acres of wetlands as well as over 300 acres of lakes and associated shorelines. Grafton Lakes BCA is a stopover site for Neotropical migratory songbirds especially forest dwelling migrants during both spring and fall migrations. The site supports a diversity of birds associated with upland forest. It is also a significant site for forest breeding raptors such as the state species of special concern Cooper's Hawk (possible breeder) and Red-shouldered Hawk (probable breeder).
Download a copy of the BCA map.
Deer and small game hunting are allowed in season. Hunting permit dates run coincide with the NYS DEC hunting permit dates.
A valid hunting license is required to obtain a Grafton Lakes hunting permit.
Hunters must sign in and out of the park at the office daily when hunting within the boundaries of the park.
Hunting is not permitted within 500 feet of any building, road, playground, or parking lot, and all trails are considered safety zones where hunting is not allowed.
The annual beach tradition starts with registration at 12pm. Complete your sand sculpture by 2pm for judging, and prizes issued by 3pm. Goodies for every one and grand prize fun for best in each age category. See you on the beach!
Join us for a morning of service in the park, and we'll thank you with a complimentary barbecue and raffle of goodies! Checkin at 9am, trail work 9:30-12 followed by lunch. Preregister so we have projects and food for all.
Join local hiker Stevie Lynn Rodriguez and her sweet Doberman named Bulla on a hike in the park! Meets at the north end of main lot at playground and will head out on 2 mile hike. All outings require dogs to be on a six foot leash, due to Parks regulations. Gate fee of $8/car, but program is free. Please thank Stevie for volunteering to lead it!
Calling all night owls to come explore the night sky with us! Join Albany Area Amateur Astronomers for a free tour of skies with telescopes provided. Cloudy skies may delay to Saturday, so call 658-9144 to confirm. Please use Winter Entrance and follow signs to program. Free!
Mountain Bike Festival sponsored by SMBA at 10am. Organized rides, games, contests, clinics, raffles, swag brought to you by your local MTB club – SMBA!
Full list of vendors & events coming soon: www.facebook.com/saratogamtb