Wayne County, New York, is home to Beechwood State Park, which boasts 3,500 feet of undeveloped, unmarked shoreline along Lake Ontario. The park spans 315 acres. Beechwood, located not far from Chimney Bluffs State Park, served as a Girl Scout camp for nearly 70 years before closing in the mid-1990s.
Beechwood State Park has minimal infrastructure outside its two parking areas. While the entire Girl Scout camp may be abandoned and falling apart into the surrounding forest, it still manages to pique the interest of curious visitors.
Beechwood State Park And Its Curious History
In 1929, the Girl Scouts of America established Beechwood State Park as Camp Beechwood. Located in the northern Finger Lakes, this 150-acre plot featured a stunning forest and, back in the day, a fantastic beach on Lake Ontario. Over the subsequent seven decades, this camp became an institution that countless young women looked forward to attending every summer before its termination in the mid-1990s due to dwindling participation and rising costs. The state purchased the site for the park in 1999.
However, they, too, were experiencing financial difficulties and decided to turn the area into a preserve though it still bears the designation of "state park." The town of Sodus is responsible for park maintenance at the moment. The park's current size is a little under 300 acres, thanks to an extra 146 acres added over the past two decades after the state purchased the site. Even though the grounds and buildings remain abandoned, a caretaker and hidden cameras provide security and defend the park from vandals.
What To Enjoy At Beechwood State Park?
Beechwood State Park is a must-see for those who like exploring abandoned locations. There are several camping circles in Beechwood, some in better condition than others. Particularly dilapidated are the slightly-different cabins at the park's edge, where the main road ends. Travelers will pass some other derelict structures along the road that, from the outside, look like they might be worth exploring in their own right. Just beyond these makeshift dwellings, the trail takes a sharp right and drops steeply to Lake Ontario.
Pioneer Lodge, once perched high above the lake, was a stunning structure lacking special finishing touches—like windows—but it nonetheless had a timeless, rural allure. In its heyday, the lodge's prime location was not on a hill overlooking the lake. Over the past ninety years, the lake has reclaimed nearly 100 feet of land due to erosion. There was once a stunning beach right below the property; presently, only a narrow strip of stony beach extends out into the lake from where the forest once stood.
A different trail in the park may reach two more historic locations; one of them is particularly stunning because of its elevated position above Lake Ontario. The smaller lodge and that spot that was once the Pixie Playhouse are two of the most picturesque locations in the entire park.
Beechwood State Park is also notable for allowing camping throughout the entire park. Campers should notify the park's maintenance supervisor upon arrival to let him know they intend to spend the night there, although reservations are not required. Campers are welcome to pitch their tents wherever they please or spread out sleeping bags in any of the remaining buildings. But there are some guidelines to follow.
- Cost: Camping is $15/night and campers should contact the park to make reservations.
What Else Is There To Do In The Area?
Beechwood State Park is not a swimming destination. If one is in the mood for a swim, head further down Lake Road to Sodus Point Beach Park. Located at the very end of Sodus Point, Wayne County's Sodus Point Beach Park is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The newly restored park offers activities for the entire family. Free activities for visitors include sunbathing, picnicking, swimming, and using the brand-new playground. The renovated bathhouse, the greenway route, and the repositioned bayside beach make Sodus Point Park the ideal site to appreciate the splendor of Lake Ontario. From late June to Labor Day, supervised swimming is available on the lakeside, and bayside beaches from 11 am to 7 pm.
The Lighthouse Museum at Sodus Point also hosts an annual summer outdoor concert series, which is now in its 27th year. Every Sunday from July 4th to Labor Day weekend, people go to the museum's rolling lawn to bask in the lake breeze and listen to musical performances ranging from choral to jazz to oldies to Big Band to symphonic. After a concert has ended, there are abundant, exciting activities to enjoy. Visitors can take advantage of the self-guided walking tour to learn more about the fascinating past and exciting present of Sodus Point and to see for themselves what makes this destination such an excellent vacation spot.
- How to arrive at Beechwood state park: From Route 104/Ridge Road, take Route 14 north to Sodus Point. Turn left/west onto Lake Road and travel 2 miles along it. Shortly after passing Halcus Road (on the left), the parking lot entrance will be on the right.
- Where to stay: In the heart of Sodus Point's charming downtown, guests of the Lummis St. Bungalow will find everything they need for a memorable vacation with friends and family. Off of Bay St., the tranquil and friendly Lummis St. offers stunning views of Great Sodus Bay.