New Jersey State Outdoors

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New Jersey State Parks

Allaire State Park
Allaire State Park is probably best known for its historic 19th-century ironmaking town, Allaire Village, and its antique steam trains on the Pine Creek Railroad. The Manasquan River, which winds through the park, attracts canoeists and fishermen. The river's floodplain provides habitat for over 200 species of wildflowers, trees and plants as well as habitat for birds and other wildlife. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders enjoy the many trails in the park. For information call: (732)938-2371


Cape May Point State Park
Although Cape May Lighthouse is a major attraction for many visitors to the area, the park's constantly changing shoreline, dunes, freshwater coastal marsh and ponds, forested islands and varied uplands make it a well-known location for viewing the fall bird migration. Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May Point State Park is a key site on the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail, with an environmental center that houses a classroom for interpretive programs and a museum on the area's natural and historic features. The 157-foot-high lighthouse is still an aid to navigation. Visitors who climb to the top of the lighthouse can view the scenic Cape May peninsula. The first known lighthouse at Cape May was built in 1823. By 1847, the lighthouse had to be moved as the sea had encroached upon it to such an extent that the tower was surrounded by water and the foundation was threatened. The lighthouse was rebuilt on a high bluff and was never used. The current lighthouse was built in 1859. For information call: (609)884-2159


Parvin State Park
Hidden in the southwestern part of the state is Parvin State Park, a park whose history is as varied as its wildlife. Situated on the edge of the Pine Barrens, the park not only has pine forests typical to the area but also a swamp hardwood forest. Spring bursts out in bright colors and rich fragrances with blossoming dogwood, laurel, holly, magnolia, wild azalea and over 200 kinds of flowering plants. Thundergust Lake, Parvin Lake and Muddy Run are popular for fishing and boating. Swimming is allowed on Parvin Lake only. This park served as home for the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1941, a summer camp for the children of displaced Japanese Americans in 1943, a POW camp for German prisoners in 1944 and temporary housing for the Kalmycks who fled their homelands in Eastern Europe in 1952. From the park's early history, there are still the remains of ancient American Indian encampments, both temporary and permanent. For information call: (856)358-8616


Double Trouble State Park
Originally a cranberry farm and packing plant, the former company town called Double Trouble is a window into past and current industries in the Pinelands. The Double Trouble Company was formed to sell timber, millwork products and cranberries. A succession of sawmills has been on site since the mid-1700s. The park features over 5,000 acres of Pine Barrens habitats. Cedar Creek, which runs through Double Trouble, provides the water required for cranberry culture and supplies a pure source of water for wildlife. The creek is an excellent stream for canoeing and for catching glimpses of otters, beavers, bluebirds and deer. Adjacent bogs and uplands provide examples of Pine Barrens plants. The village consists of active cranberry bogs leased to the New Jersey Devil Cranberry Company. Fourteen original historic structures dating from the late 19th century through the early 20th century include a general store, schoolhouse and cottages. The sawmill was restored in 1995, and the cranberry sorting and packing house has completed in 1996. For information call: (908)341-6662


Liberty State Park
With the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island as a spectacular backdrop, Liberty State Park is one of New Jersey's most dramatic parks. The historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ), a grand seffing for much of New Jersey's transportation history in the northeast, sits prominently at the north end of the park. A two-mile promenade, Liberty Walk links the picnic area, Interpretive Center and the CRRNJ Terminal while presenting visitors with a sweeping view of the Hudson River. A new outdoor performance area and other improvements mark the northern section of the park, while the western portion is dominated by the state-of-the-art Liberty Science Center. For information call: (201)915-3403


Camping and Hiking in New Jersey

Bass River State Forest
Bass River State Forest was acquired by the state of New Jersey in 1905 for public recreation, water conservation, and wildlife and timber management. Lake Absegami, a 67-acre lake created in the 1920's, is the center of the forest's recreational activities and provides an area for swimming and a serene setting for boating and canoeing. A trail through the Absegami Natural Area wanders through a pine/oak woods and a small Atlantic white cedar bog. Batona Trail, this easy walking trail, well marked with pink blazes, runs for fifty miles through Bass River State Forest, Wharton State Forest and Lebanon State Forest, crossing streams and passing through forested areas that were once bustling towns with names such as Four Mile, Butler, Martha and Washington. Campsites: 178 tent and trailer sites with fire rings and picnic tables. Flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities are within walking distance. Trailer sanitary station is open March 1 through November 30. Campsites open all year. Group Campsites: Three group campsites with water and pit toilets are within walking distance. Each site accommodates up to 50 campers. Open all year. Lean-tos: Nine lean-tos with woodburning stoves. Each accommodates six people. Outdoor picnic table, fire ring and grill. Flush toilets, showers, laundry facilities are within walking distance. Open all year. Shelters: Six shelters with furnished living room with woodburning stove and screened double door, two bunk rooms, one double-deck bunk in each room. Each accommodates four people. Outdoor grill for cooking, table and benches. Flush toilets and shower facilities are nearby. Shelters are located along the north shore of Lake Absegami. Open April 1 through October 31. Cabins: Six cabins with living room with double-deck bunk and fireplace; two bunkrooms with double-deck bunks; kitchen with running water, electric stove, refrigerator; bathroom with shower, toilet, and sink. Screened-in porch faces lake. Electricity. Each accommodates six people. Cabins are located along the shore of Lake Absegami. Open April 1 through October 31 For information call: (609)296-1114


Belleplain State Forest
The forested acres of Belleplain include stands of young pine, oak and Atlantic white cedar, reflecting better soil conditions and less damage by fire than found in the Pine Barrens just north of the forest. Belleplain State Forest was established in 1928 by the State of New Jersey for recreation, wildlife management, timber production, and water conservation. In 1933, three camps were set up by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Reforestation Relief Act, supplying labor to the forest for over an eight-year period. The CCC converted Meisle Cranberry Bog into Lake Nummy, a popular swimming, boating, and fishing area. They also constructed the original forest headquarters, maintenance building, a road system, bridges, and dams. Campsites: 169 tent and trailer sites with fire rings and picnic tables. Flush toilets, showers, and laundry facilities are within walking distance. Trailer Dumping Station is open March 1 through November 30. Campsites open all year. Group campsites: Two group campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, water, and chemical toilets. Each site accommodates up to 75 people. Open all year. Lean-tos: Fourteen lean-tos with propane heaters. Each accommodates up to six people. Outdoor picnic table, fire ring and grill. Flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities are within walking distance. ADA Accessible. Open all year. Group Cabin: East Creek Cabin - furnished living room with fireplace, full kitchen, two bunkrooms with double bunks, bathrooms, showers. Accommodates up to 30 people. Located on a lake and accessible to East Creek Trail. Picnic grove, boat dock, ballfield. ADA Accessible. Open year round. Trails: Hiking, nature trails (trail guide available at office), horseback riding, mountain biking, biking, physical fitness trail. For information call: (609)861-2404


Lebanon State Forest
The fresh scent of pines greets the visitor to Lebanon State Forest. Today's forested acres are a strong contrast to the barren, cleared land that existed in the 1800s. The Lebanon Glass Works was established in 1851 and was successful until 1867, when it shut down after depleting the supply of wood necessary for the furnace to operate. Today, hikers can follow the sandy trails and roads that crisscross the forest, sometimes passing near the remains of stone or brick structures or where large depressions indicate the location of what was once a bustling town. Pure, iron-rich streams flow through acres of swampy land covered with dense stands of Atlantic white cedar. Campsites: 82 tent and trailer sites each with fire rings and picnic tables. Flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities are within walking distance. Trailer sanitary station open March 1 through November 30. Campsites open all year. Group campsites: Three group sites; total capacity: 100. Fire rings, picnic tables, water, and flush toilets. Open year round. Cabins: Three cabins with furnished living room with fireplace; two double-deck bunks; kitchen with running water, electric stove, refrigerator; half-baths with toilet and basin. Electricity. Each accommodates four people. With prior permission from the superintendent, two additional people may be accommodated. Cabins are on the shore of Pakim Pond. Showers are available at camping area. Open April 1 through October 31. Cedar Swamp Natural Area (735 acres). Many of the forest communities represented in the New Jersey Pine Barrens may be observed along the trails through the natural area. These include upland pine-oak and oak-pine forest, pitch pine lowland forest and Atlantic white cedar swamp. The natural area supports the federally threatened swamp pink and other endangered plant species. For information call: (609)726-1191


Wawayanda State Park
The quiet charm of Wawayanda appeals to hikers, campers, swimmers and boaters. Forested hills surround Lake Wawayanda creating a restful backdrop for canoeists, boaters and fisherman, while steep mountains challenge casual as well as serious hikers. A twenty-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park, while the top of Wawayanda Mountain offers sensational views. More than forty miles of trails are marked in the park. Group campsites: Three sites with pit toilets; total capacity: 150. Water is not available at campsites; it must be carried from the maintenance building. Open April 1 through October 31 Trails: Hiking, mountain biking, biking, horseback riding. For information call: (973)853-4462


Swartswood State Park
Summer months find Swartswood Lake and Little Swartswood Lake bright with sailboats and fishing boats while a sheltered cove in Swartswood Lake is filled with swimmers. Swartswood Lake, a glacial lakeprovides excellent opportunities for water recreation as a result of an intense lake restoration and watershed management program. There is an abundance of large hold over brown trout, walleye and the lake was recently chosen as one of the state's best trout fisheries. The swimming area at Swartswood boasts safe, clean and clear water as a result of the Watershed Management Program. The program includes a lake aeration system to maintain a high water quality. In the heat of the summer, visitors can sit at a picnic table on a shady hillside overlooking the lake, while winter finds cross-country skiers, ice boaters and ice skaters enjoying the vigorous air. Campsites: 70 tent and trailer sites with fire rings and picnic tables. Flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities are within walking distance. Trailer sanitary station. Open April 1 through October 31. Group campsites: Three group sites; capacity: twenty campers each. Pit toilets, water, fire rings, picnic tables. April 1 through October 31. Trails: Hiking, nature trails handicapped accessible, trail horseback riding, mountain biking and biking. For information call: (973)383-5230


Hunting and Fishing in New Jersey

Hacklebarney State Park
The freshwater Black River briskly cuts its way through rocky Hacklebarney State Park, cascading around boulders in the hemlock-lined ravine. Two tributaries, Rinehart and Trout Brooks, also course their way through this glacial valley, feeding the Black River. Even in the heat of mid-summer, the temperature of Black River gorge is cool and refreshing. Today Hacklebarney is a favorite place for avid anglers, hikers and picnickers, yet in the 19th century the park was a mined iron ore site. The gushing river against the grey boulders and dark green hemlocks creates a majestic beauty in any season. Three rare and endangered plant species exist within the park: American ginseng, leatherwood and Virginia pennywort. Over a hundred bird species and wildlife such as black bear, woodchuck, deer and fox live in the park. For information call: (908)638-6969


Farny State Park
This forested wilderness connects watershed lands and is crossed by an old logging road. Streams, mixed oak-hardwood forest and swamps comprise the park. This area is popular among anglers and hikers. Trail entry is through the Farny Natural Area. Split Rock Reservoir is adjacent to the park. Farny Natural Area (589 acres). The natural area lies adjacent to Splitrock Reservoir and supports a mature mixed oak hardwood forest characteristic of the Highlands physiographic province. Tall red, white and black oaks dominate the forest canopy, which also serves as habitat for the endangered red-shouldered hawk and threatened barred owl. Numerous trails cross the natural area. Hunting is also available here. For information call: (973)962-7031


Hopatcong State Park
Nine miles in length and covered by 2,500 acres of freshwater, Lake Hopatcong is the focal point of the park. Hopatcong State Park is at the southwest end of the lake and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and swimming. Lake Hopatcong was originally created as part of the Morris Canal, a 90-mile waterway that ran from Newark to Phillipsburg and was the chief means of transporting coal, iron and zinc across New Jersey in the 1860s. The lake was the canal's major source of water. In 1866, over 880,000 tons of freight was transported on the canal. However, as the more efficient Morris and Essex Railroad was established, the canal was abandoned. The historical museum is located in the old Morris Canal locktender's house and offers exhibits on local American Indian history, the Morris Canal and the history of the lake. For information call: (973)398-7010


Island Beach State Park
Shaped by storm and tides, Island Beach State Park is a narrow barrier island stretching for 10 miles between the restless Atlantic Ocean and the quieter Barnegat Bay. Island Beach is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem that once existed along much of the coast and is also one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast. Over 3,000 acres and 10 miles of coastal dunes remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described New Jersey's coast from the ship, the Half Moon, in 1609. Miles of sand dunes and white sandy beaches offer habitat to maritime plants and diverse wildlife that is almost the same as it was thousands of years ago. Island Beach contains outstanding examples of sand dunes, thicket community, freshwater wetlands, maritime forest and tidal marshes. The state's largest osprey colony, as well as peregrine falcons, wading birds, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrating songbirds, are found here. Island Beach is nationally known as a unique resource with over 300 plants identified, including the largest expanses of beach heather in New Jersey. Ten miles of pure white sand beach attracts swimmers, sunbathers, anglers and surfers. Modern bathhouses, beach access ramps, a mile of beach with lifeguards, historic buildings, trails, naturalist programs, bike paths and facilities for people with disabilities combine to make Island Beach a popular place. Waterfowl hunting is available in sedge islands only. For information call: (732)793-0506


Wharton State Forest
Wharton State Forest is the largest single tract of land within the New Jersey State Park System. It is also the site of Batsto Village, a former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center from 1766 to 1867 that currently reflects the agricultural and commercial enterprises that existed here during the late 19th century. Throughout Wharton are rivers and streams for canoeing, hiking trails (including a major section of the Batona Trail), 500 miles of unpaved roads for mountain biking and horseback riding and numerous lakes, ponds and fields ideal for wildlife observation. Bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, marsh hawks, ospreys, great blue herons, swans, screech owls, great-horned owls, bluebirds, hummingbirds, purple martins, goldfinch, turkeys, beavers, river otters, fox and deer are only some of the wildlife the alert visitor can see. Hunting is available. For information call: (609)561-0024


Other New Jersey Outdoor activities

New Jersey also offers the following outdoor activities:
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Ice Sailing
  • Ice Skating
  • In-line Skating
  • Sailing
  • Skiing
  • Sledding
  • Swimming