camp beechwood

Abandoned Girl Scout camp is an eerie road trip from Toronto

When it comes to creepy destinations within a reasonable drive of Toronto, it's tough to beat Camp Beechwood, a former Girl Scout getaway that closed in the 1990s.

Located in Sodus, New York, just east of Rochester, the place seems like the set of a teenage horror movie, complete with abandoned cabins, old fire pits, a deserted dining hall and a graffiti-strewn swimming pool.

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The days when this camp was a site of carefree childhood fun are long gone, replaced by a quiet landscape of overgrown grass and the occasional explorer. It feels like a place time forgot.

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If you hike in here at sunset, you're pretty much guaranteed to spook yourself by the time night falls. Given that overnight camping is allowed on the site, here's the perfect chance to prove to everyone how brave you are.

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Perhaps that's the best thing about this abandonment — it's not illegal to go exploring here. In fact, it's encouraged. The former camp is now part of Beechwood State Park, which is managed by the town. There are park rules, but they're quite reasonable.

The Girl Scouts operated Camp Beechwood starting in 1929, but rising taxes on the waterfront property, and a host of maintenance challenges related to erosion, led its sale in 1995. Lest the site be redeveloped, it was ultimately acquired by New York State in 1996.

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For all the putative creepiness of the abandoned camp, the park is actually a lovely place to visit just for the natural setting, particularly because it's rarely busy. Once you check out the ruins, you can head over to the shore to look across Lake Ontario.

You'll find the parking lot for Beechwood State Park near Lake and Maxwell roads. Admission is free, though you'll have to contact the camp caretaker to arrange for overnight camping.

Lead photo by

juliafrenchfrey


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