Location / Directions / Maps
Lake Ontario; Town of
Bing Maps (Birds-eye view);
GPS: Parking: (N
43.26497 / W 77.02628)
(N 43.26782 / W 77.02977)
(N 43.27035 / W 77.03023)
Rt 104/Ridge Rd, head north on Rt 14 to the village
of Sodus Point. Turn left/west onto Lake Rd
and follow it for 2 miles. Shortly after you pass Halcus
Rd (on the left), the entrance to the parking lot is
on the right.
Or use Google Directions.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
year-round, from dawn until dusk.
Park in the parking lot off of Lake Rd. Alternative
parking can be found in the DEC fishing access site
on the other side of Lake Rd, or on the east side of
to visit: Spring through fall.
Half a day to explore.
Allowed if on a leash. For your pet's
safety, and the safety of other hikers, keep your
pet on the leash!
It doesn't matter if your dog is "friendly," it's
the law. Please clean up after.
Boat launch: Hand
boat launch is possible from the southwest shore of
Maxwell Bay not far from the parking area. Another
launch can be found on the other side of the bay
from the State fishing access site. Maxwell Bay is
open to Lake Ontario.
Trails; fishing; hand boat launch. No restrooms. No
picnic facilities. No swimming.
Local Activities and Events
(early October) - Sodus, NY
Sterling Renaissance Festival summer) -
Area Attractions / Places to Stay
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Sodus Point Lighthouse - Sodus Point, NY
Sodus Point Beach Park - Sodus Point, NY
Chimney Bluffs State Park - Wolcott, NY
Bed & Breakfast
Maxwell Creek Inn - Sodus, NY
Carriage House Inn - Sodus Point, NY
Silver Waters B&B - Sodus Point, NY
The Cliffs at Sodus Point - Sodus Point, NY
Sodus Point Lodge - Sodus Point, NY
South Shore RV Park - Sodus Point, NY
Restaurants / Cafes
Sodus Bay Heights - Sodus Point, NY
Captain Jack's Goodtime Tavern - Sodus Point, NY
Abe's Waterfront - Sodus Point, NY
Double J's Pizzeria - Sodus, NY
Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum - Sodus Point, NY
Sunshine Radio Museum - Sodus Point, NY
Heritage Square Museum - Ontario, NY
Wineries / Breweries
Thorpe Vineyard - Wolcott, NY
Shopping / Markets / Gifts
Entertainment / Theater
Gates Hall - Pultneyville, NY
Captain Jack's Goodtime Tavern - Sodus Point, NY
Arts / Crafts
L.W. Emporium - Ontario, NY
Charters / Tours
Fishing Sodus Bay - Sodus Point, NY
Stingray Charters - Williamson, NY
— Just upstream from the park, on state-owned
fishing access land, is a small waterfall. You can
get to it by following the trail along-side Maxwell
Creek that starts at the parking lot across from the
State Park. Another waterfall is further upstream,
but the land ownership is unknown.
— Marking the largest natural harbor on Lake
Ontario, this 1871 tower and keeper's quarters is
now a museum. It free to walk the grounds and guided tours
are inexpensive. Only a few miles to the east in the
village of Sodus Point.
Links of Interest
Girl Scout history
Sodus, NY history
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Pictures For Sale
AKA: Girl Scouts of America's
Relatively unknown, Beechwood State Park is easily
one of the most unique park experiences New York has
to offer. A former Girl Scouts of America summer
camp, the property has been left as it was abandoned
in 1996. After 15 years the buildings are in a state
of decay, with many over grown by weeds. The
Olympic-size pool is almost completely destroyed,
and the large wooden dock on the lake has been
demolished into piled up scrap along the shore.
Campgrounds vary from fallen shelters covered in
vines, to intact and clean lean-tos, almost ready
for use. Throughout this designated nature park, the
old campground's lodges and miscellaneous structures
are there to be discovered by the casual hiker. At
least for now. Whether or not the state will demolish them in the
future is unknown.
Across the park's 250 acres are
empty lots, pine and hemlock groves, wooded hills
and marshy ravines. Over 1500 ft of shoreline on Lake Ontario
and access to the west side of Maxwell Bay makes
this not only an excellent potential property for
family recreation but also an important ecological zone
within the Lake Ontario
watershed. The pebble beach, flanked by a two-story
bluff, once a focal point for the Girl Scout camp,
has been plagued by rising waters, landslides, and
fallen trees. The bay, a sheltered fishing spot and
paddling haven, is struggling with road contaminants
and agricultural run-off. Currently it is no typical
state park with modern amenities, though Beechwood shines as a nature preserve and as a
fascinating study of reclamation, as nature begins
to take back the land and revert it to a more natural state.
The remains of the old camp are
clues to what was once here, making for an exciting and
thought-provoking hike. The park is also a haven for ground squirrels, deer, and migrating
birds. For photographers, the many clues peeking out
from the over-growth make for eerie subjects.
Prior to white settlers, the Onondaga
and Cayuga Indians settled along the "Assoh-doh-rass,"
or "silver waters" of Sodus Bay, the largest
natural bay along Lake Ontario.
Sodus Point was first settled in
1794 by Captain Charles Williamson, an agent for
Colonial land investors, Pulteney Estates, with the
intention of creating a port settlement. The Village
of Sodus Point flourished and even became the
sight of a battle in the War of 1812, when British
forces besieged and burned the village to the ground
(on June 19, 1813).
The Girl Scouts
of America purchased a parcel of land along the west
side of Maxwell
Bay and the Rochester division then built and operated
Camp Beechwood here starting in 1929. Beechwood was
named for the American beech trees (Fagus
grandifolia fagaceae) that grew along the
The camp was successful for many decades, but several
factors led to its decline in the 1990s. For one,
taxes on lakefront property in NY State
increased dramatically over the years. Secondly,
Scout membership was on the decline nationally, as
girls of that age gravitated less towards outdoor
camping and more towards media entertainment. Camp
maintenance demands grew out of control as rising
waters and storms caused uncontrollable erosion,
landslides and fallen trees along the shore. The
lake waters were filled with downed trees just below
the surface, making for a creepy and somewhat
dangerous swimming environment for the campers. The
bay, which pulled
agricultural runoff into the two mile stretch of
Maxwell Creek (then called Salmon Creek) suffered from algal
blooms and poor water quality.
As problems compounded, the operating
costs became just too much for the Scouts and they
decided to put the land up for sale in 1995.
Recognizing the importance of the Maxwell Creek
watershed to Lake Ontario's
health, and fearing commercial development or
agricultural use of this important property, the
State become interested in its acquisition. With the
land already connected to utilities, and the
existence of modern cabins, lodges, and recreation
facilities, the state looked at the acquisition and
conversion to a family park as an easy task. There
was some resistance to the purchase using taxpayer
funds, but with the help
of the Clean Water/ Clean Air Bond Act
the state was able to buy the land in 1996 for
Unfortunately, before the State
could upgrade and open the newly acquired park, a budget
crisis got in the way and no money was allocated for
improvements. The park's purpose was then shifted
more towards a manageable "preserve" and it opened
with no improvements in 1999. Since, the buildings
have fallen into decay and only the occasional
mowing is done down the access road and around the
main lot containing the mess hall and swimming pool.
Recently, the Town of Sodus has been
given permission by the state for use of the park as
they see fit. An effort by the Boy Scouts of America
is underway to help recondition some structures
within the park, while the Trail Works organization
has spent some time mapping the existing trails. The
SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry
has taken some interest in the property as of 2010,
walking the grounds to take inventory for a
recommended management plan. As of the writing of
this article, the park has only seen a minor effort
to preserve and restore the existing major
Hiking / Trails / Exploration
Up to 3 miles of trails.
Park trails are not distinctly marked. Some trails
may have red flags tied to trees. An old access road
leads from Lake Rd to the Lake. It is mowed at least
once a year.
The trails in this park are all about
exploration. Since the park is relatively new and
undeveloped, there are no official trails The old
access road (often labeled as Gates Dr on maps)
runs from Lake Road (west of the parking area)
across the length of the park and to the shore of Lake Ontario.
A recommended hike is start out from
the parking area and head north through the first
campground and towards the bay. Backtrack to the
campground and follow a trail through the woods that
leads to a large opening and a large structure. This
the mess hall. North of it is an abandoned
swimming pool and administrative buildings. Follow
the old access road north and just past the clearing
will be another abandoned campground on your left.
Continue north along the road and it will branch.
Straight ahead leads down to the lake. To the right
are some cabins on top of the bluff, and to the left
is a large campground and a lake-side lodge.
interactive map below for approximations of the
trail system as of 2010.
— Visit early in the day or when there are overcast
skies for even lighting and to avoid hot spots of
light in your photos.
— Dramatic skies make for more interesting
for more waterfall photography tips.
Who to Contact
14-16 Mill Street
Sodus, NY 14551
Phone: (315) 483-6934
DEC Region 8
6274 Avon-Lima Rd
Avon, NY 14414-9516
Phone: (585) 226-2466