Often overlooked for our ocean beaches, New Jersey’s lakes have trees that offer a shady break from the sun, no salt water in your eyes, a chill atmosphere and all the boating, swimming and fishing you love. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite lakes to spend the day. Remember to keep your distance and wear masks to bathrooms and indoor areas. Plan ahead to get a good spot before the lake reaches capacity.
Hooks Creek Lake at Cheesequake State Park
300 Gordon Rd., Matawan
Inside Cheesequake State Park in Matawan, this lake spot is an incredible example of two ecosystems coming together in harmony. In this combined freshwater-saltwater compound, the lake is open for swimming from 10 am to 6 pm, while lifeguards are on duty. There’s also a beach complex with changing areas, restrooms, a first-aid station and a concession stand offering snacks, novelties and beach gear. Pack your own lunch and plan to eat at one of the many picnic areas throughout the park. For folks who like to get active, try freshwater fishing and crabbing.
89 Brady Rd., Lake Hopatcong
Head to Hopatcong State Park in Landing for a glimpse of the largest lake in the state. A few years back, this gorgeous gem was plagued with harmful algae blooms, but is now safe for swimming. This beautiful and scenic area is filled with a bountiful history, having been discovered by the Lenape Indians 12,000 years ago. Lifeguards are on duty 10 am to 6 pm through Labor Day weekend, and the bathhouse is available for changing, restrooms, first-aid and concessions where food and beach necessities are available. The area’s hilltop picnic areas are each equipped with a grill for a barbecue by the lake. They also boast two playgrounds and a large playing field perfect for soccer or Frisbee. For those who like the lull of the lake underneath their feet and the patience and relaxation of waiting for a bite, the lake is also open for boating and freshwater fishing.
Lake Marcia at High Point State Park
1480 Rt. 23, Sussex
This Sussex spot inside High Point State Park boasts 20 acres of crisp and refreshing spring-fed waters, and has gorgeous Appalachian views that will take your breath away. The lake is open daily from 11 am to 5:30 pm. Adjacent to the beach is a bathhouse and food stand. Visitors can also take in surrounding nature by hiking up to High Point Monument (currently closed due to COVID restrictions) which stands a whopping 1,803 feet above sea level and whose view provides a gorgeous panorama of the lush surrounding farmlands and forests. Nearby attractions at High Point State Park include Sawmill Pond and Steeny Kill Lake, where families can watch seasonal boat launches.
Round Valley Recreation Area
1220 Lebanon-Stanton Road, Lebanon
Located in Lebanon, the boat launch is back open this summer, along with the rest of their facilities. The Round Valley Reservoir, stocked with lake trout to inhabit its beautiful freshwater, also has a beach complex complete with changing areas, restrooms, showers, a first-aid station and a concession building. Beachfront volleyball nets provide the perfect opportunity to get a family game going before the tired gang heads over to one of three picnic areas to eat and relax. Each picnic area has a grill, restrooms and a playground for the kids.
Wawayanda State Park
885 Warwick Turnpike, Hewitt
Located in Hewitt, this Sussex and Passaic county park has a quiet lake which will charm swimmers and boaters alike. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 am to 6 pm, and facilities adjacent to the beach have changing areas, restrooms, a first-aid stand and a concession area. Visitors can rent canoes, rowboats and paddle boats, or bring their own watercraft to launch, including sailboards. The lake is teeming with fish including trout and landlocked salmon. The park is also home to a 19-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, so it’s a great for hikers, too.