New Jersey September 21, 2017
10 Under-Appreciated State Parks In New Jersey You’re Sure To Love
New Jersey has so many wonderful parks, many overflowing with visitors. Wharton State Forest brings crowds in for kayaking, camping, and Historic Batsto Village. Hopatcong State Park has our largest lake, and High Point has some of the best views in New Jersey. We’re all familiar with Liberty State Park and Ringwood State Park has magical manors and gardens, but there are other parks that are a bit more peaceful. Here are ten that occasionally get overlooked.
1. Kittatinny Valley State Park, Andover
This park is home to several gorgeous glacial lakes and ponds. Lake Aeroflex and Gardner's Pond are popular picks for fishing. You'll also find an abandoned rail line, small airport, and historic village here.
2. Farny State Park, Rockaway Township
Forested wilderness, this park has some interesting surprises, including a giant dam, reservoir, and old furnace. Trails range from .5 miles to 19.4 miles.
3. Voorhees State Park, Glen Gardner
During the Great Depression, this park served as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. Now, it's open to the public, offering scenic views of Round Valley Reservoir and Spruce Run Reservoir. There is also an observatory that offers Sky Watch programs.
4. Washington Rock State Park, Green Brook Township
Most of us are familiar with the historical significance of Washington Crossing State Park (the site where Washington crossed the Delaware, immortalized in an iconic painting), but you may not know the history of Washington Rock State Park. According to the NJ State Parks website, "The strategic location of Washington Rock made it a valuable lookout point during the American Revolution for General George Washington in June of 1777 when the British army under General William Howe was moving toward Westfield. From the vantage point of this natural rock outcropping, General Washington had a thirty-mile panoramic view of the valley and was able to instruct his troops to circle behind Howe’s troops and cut off their retreat."
5. Penn State Forest, Jenkin's Neck
Situated between Bass River North and Wharton State Forest, this picturesque park sometimes gets overshadowed. Here you can enjoy the unique landscape of the Pine Barrens and kayaking on Oswego Lake.
6. Abram S. Hewitt State Forest, West Milford
You've got to love these views. Expect a rugged, rustic experience, colorful bedrock, and a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
7. Stephens State Park, Hackettstown
There are six miles of marked trails at Stephens State Park for walking, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, including a 2-mile section of the Highlands Trail. This is one of few state parks where rock climbing is permitted (you'll need to sign a waiver) and there is some great fishing to be found on the Musconetcong River.
8. Rancocas State Park, Hainesport Township
The nature center here provides a variety of unique programs, including educational workshops and guided hikes. You'll also get to enjoy all the wildlife along Rancocas Creek.
9. Long Pond Ironworks State Park, Hewitt
From ruins to restored buildings, this park is a history lover's paradise. The Ironworks were founded back in 1766 and remnants still remain. The operation played a major role in both the War of 1812 and the Civil War. You'll also find the lovely Monksville Reservoir and Wanaque River here.
10. Swartswood State Park, Swartswood
Located on Swartswood Lake, this park offers fishing, boating, and swimming. You'll also enjoy the hiking trails and unique natural and historic sites here. Duck Pond is a woodland vernal pool, a depression in the forest, unconnected to a stream, with a dense soil layer that impedes the water from flowing out easily. Keen's Gristmill (pictured) is a former gristmill that can be enjoyed via an easy 1.2-mile hike with water views.
Which New Jersey state park is your favorite?
Ringwood, Wharton, and Liberty are three of my favorites, choosing one is impossible.