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The Best Lakes In NJ

Looking for a beach alternative? Try one of NJ's great lakes.



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Hooks Creek Lake 

Cheesequake State Park, 300 Gordon Rd., Matawan
state.nj.us

This hidden gem in the heart of a gigantic preserve is truly a one-of-a-kind spot—half the lake is freshwater and the other is saltwater (separated by a dam). Plus, there’s plenty to do, like crabbing, fishing, an eco-kayaking tour, swimming, hiking on five different trails, camping at 50 sites and bird-watching. (FYI: There are more than 150 species of birds here!) Want to make a day of it? Picnic tables are available to reserve.

The Details: Admission is $5 per car on weekdays and $10 on weekends. 

Lake Hopatcong 

89 Brady Rd., Lake Hopatcong
state.nj.us

If the clan wants to swim, fish, boat or have a picnic, this nine-mile lake has all the bells and whistles: With two playgrounds, six half-basketball courts, sand volleyball courts and a large field, there are plenty of ways to keep them entertained in and out of the water. And if you feel like seeing the lake in style, check out one of the cruises, which set sail three to four times a day. The Lake Hopatcong Golf Club has an 18-hole mini-golf course the whole family will love. 

The Details: $6 per car on weekdays and $10 per car on weekends.

Lake Marcia at High Point State Park

1480 Rte. 23, Sussex
njparksandforests.org

At 1,803 feet above sea level, this place has you looking out over farmland, forests, hills and valleys in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania—talk about a view! Once you’re done taking in the scenery, pack in some water activities or go horseback riding, biking, hiking or picnicking. You can also climb the High Point monument for a 360-degree view. A can’t-miss is the Dryden Kuser Natural Area, a bog that’s 1,500 feet above sea level, making it the highest elevation swamp of its kind in the world! 

The Details: $5 per car on weekdays and $10 on weekends. 

Atsion Lake 

715 Rte. 206, Shamong
njparksandforests.org

With the beautiful backdrop of Wharton State Forest, this 100-aquatic-acre lake offers canoeing, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, biking and tons of spots to take a dip. It also has a playground and a large picnic area. And don’t miss Batsto Village, which boasts 33 historic buildings from the 19th century, plus a self-guided tour you can get on your smartphone. Continue traveling back in time with a seasonal stop at Atsion Mansion and the Batsto Blacksmith Shop. 

The Details: Free on weekdays and $5 on weekends.

Round Valley Reservoir

1220 Lebanon-Stanton Rd., Lebanon
njparksandforests.org

The brisk water of this Hunterdon County reservoir attracts swimmers, divers, boaters, fishers, hikers and bikers. (The beach is full of cooler and towel-touting families, so it’s easy to pretend you’re down the shore.) The picnic area has places to grill and concession stands, which means your beach bag can be on the lighter side. For the real adventurers, the eastern campsites are only accessible by boat (a kayak if you dare) or a rugged three-mile trail.

The Details: $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.

Lake Absegami in Bass River State Forest

762 Stage Rd., Tuckerton
state.nj.us

Located right in Bass River State Forest, this 67-acre freshwater preserve with more than 176 different tent and trailer sites is the perfect place to camp with the family. It’s a favorite for water fun (since it’s stocked with pickerel, sunfish and catfish). The park has eight hiking trails—ranging in length and difficulty—with a ton of wildlife. And the picnic area has both a playground and an athletic field.  

The Details: $5 per car during the week and $10 on weekends.

MORE LAKES IN NEW JERSEY

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