Things to do at NJ state parks: What makes each one special?
New Jersey's state parks, forests, recreation areas, and historic sites cover more than 450,000 protected acres of the Garden State, and each one of these places has something unique to offer its visitors.
Whether it is summertime fun, an autumn hike among the changing leaves, a visit to an indoor exhibit during the winter, or watching the springtime flowers bloom, these attractions provide year-round opportunities for New Jerseyans to get to know their state better.
New Jersey 101.5 has compiled a listing of more than four dozen of these sites in 17 of the state's 21 counties, along with a distinct fact or two about each and every one.
All locations are given according to their physical addresses according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, with the understanding that many parks span multiple municipalities.
Wharton State Forest, Hammonton (est. 1954)
The Batsto Blacksmith Shop has live demonstrations at select times.
North Brigantine Natural Area, Brigantine (est. 1967)
Rare species to be found here include the piping plover, red knot, and seabeach amaranth.
Ramapo Mountain State Forest, Oakland
Views of the New York City skyline can be seen on some elevated hiking trails.
Atsion Recreation Area, Shamong (est. 1955)
Tours are available of the Atsion Mansion on-site.
Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, New Lisbon (est. 1908)
The cranberry and blueberry industry remains intact at Whitesbog Village, represented by descendants of the same family who began farming the site back in 1857.
Rancocas State Park, New Lisbon
An application is currently in development to designate the wishbone section of
Rancocas as a water trail, which will have increased visibility, and assist with the staging of special events.
CAPE MAY COUNTY
Belleplain State Forest, Woodbine (est. 1928)
Self-guided, interpretive trails allow you to potentially see animals like coyote,
bobcat, opossum, red and gray flying squirrels, muskrat, beavers and more.
Cape May Point State Park, Cape May
The top of the 199-step Cape May Lighthouse shows a panoramic view of the Cape May peninsula, and the site was a World War II military base.
Corson’s Inlet State Park, Ocean City (est. 1969)
Crabbing is a popular hobby here, to go along with conventional fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking, although swimming is prohibited.
Stow Creek State Park, Bridgeton
Stow Creek features 1,000 acres open to hunt deer, small game, waterfowl and turkey.
Tall Pines State Preserve, Sewell (est. 2016)
As of 2006, Tall Pines was an abandoned golf course.
Liberty State Park, Jersey City (est. 1976)
Against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is also the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial, plus Liberty Science Center is located on this site.
Bulls Island Recreation Area, Stockton
A great spot to view spring migration, nature watchers can see flycatchers, warblers, vireos, swallows, and also potentially the American black duck and aquatic turtles.
Round Valley Recreation Area, Lebanon (est. 1960)
This is the only state park that offers wilderness camping. Reservations can be made here.
Spruce Run Recreation Area, Clinton (est. 1973)
Spruce Run has a wildlife observation blind to observe nesting songbirds and migratory waterfowl.
Voorhees State Park, Glen Gardner (est. 1929)
Voorhees State Park includes a series of 15 exercise stations, and cross-country skiing during winter months.
D&R Canal State Park, Princeton (est. 1834)
Canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and non-motorized boats are allowed for the
entire length of the canal.
Princeton Battlefield State Park, Princeton (est. 1946)
Pictured here is the Princeton Memorial Battle Monument, but there is also the Stony Brooks Friends Meetinghouse on this property.
Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville (est. 1917)
The Open Air Theater, which is available for certain activities, was home from 2010 to 2017 to Lambertville's Downtown Performing Arts Center, which is now Music Mountain Theatre on Route 179.
Allaire State Park, Farmingdale (est. 1957)
Allaire is best known for its historic 19th-century ironmaking town, and the Pine Creek Railroad.
Cheesequake State Park, Matawan (est. 1940)
Unique because of its location, Cheesequake is the middle of New Jersey's urban north and suburban south, as well as a transitional zone between two ecosystems.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Manalapan (est. 1778)
You can explore the battlefield landscape here, not just take in a reenactment.
Pigeon Swamp State Park, Manalapan
This park originally got its name because it used to be a nesting site for passenger
pigeons before they became extinct.
Farny State Park, Rockaway (est. 1943)
The Forest Canopy here serves as a habitat for endangered species.
Hopatcong State Park, Landing
Lake Hopatcong is the largest lake in New Jersey, and swimming is permitted in the lake when lifeguards are available.
Hacklebarney State Park, Long Valley (est. 1924)
Hiking and cross-country skiing are available here, as are fishing and hunting in designated areas.
Bass River State Forest, Tuckerton (est. 1905)
This park is globally rare, with forests of pine and oak trees that gain a canopy height of
only 4 feet at maturity.
Double Trouble State Park, Bayville (est. 1964)
Educational programs for school districts are available at Double Trouble.
Penn State Forest, Tuckerton (est. 1910)
Hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking are available, as are cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, and Lake Oswego is suitable for paddling.
Warren Grove Recreation Area, Barnegat
Mature trees have average height of 8 to 10 feet here, and there is a large population of the endangered broom crowberry.
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Barnegat Light (est. 1951)
The lighthouse is currently closed for a restoration project, but normally provides a panoramic view of Barnegat Bay, Island Beach and Long Beach Island.
Island Beach State Park, Seaside Park (est. 1959)
So much more than its picture here, but gained a measure of notoriety during Gov. Chris Christie's tenure in 2017.
Wawayanda State Park, Hewitt (est. 1963)
You can view the endangered red-shouldered hawk, barred owl, and great blue
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest, Hewitt
Hewitt Forest is actually part of Wawayanda State Park.
Long Pond Ironworks State Park, Hewitt (est. 1766)
Monksville Reservoir is known for its large muskellunge, walleye, bass and trout.
Norvin Green State Forest, Ringwood (est. 1946)
Elevated trails provide views of the New York skyline, Burnt Meadow Brook, and Lake Sonoma.
Ringwood State Park, Ringwood (est. 1966)
Ringwood State Park is home to the State Botanical Garden.
Parvin State Park, Pittsgrove (est. 1931)
Parvin has 15 miles of trails for walking, jogging and biking.
Fort Mott State Park, Pennsville
There is ferry service to Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island to Delaware City.
Six Mile Run Reservoir Site, Somerset (est. 1970)
Six Mile Run has four separate trails for hiking.
Washington Rock State Park, Bridgewater (est. 1913)
Hence its name, this served as a lookout point for General George Washington in 1777 during the American Revolution.
Allamuchy Mountain State Park, Stanhope (est. 1966)
The Musconetcong River is said to have some of the best trout for fishing.
High Point State Park, Wantage (est. 1923)
The summit of Kittatinny Ridge is 1,803 feet above sea level, the highest elevation in
the state of New Jersey.
Kittatinny Valley State Park, Newton (est. 1994)
Interpretive and educational programs are available, and there's a butterfly and hummingbird garden as well as a free book exchange.
Stokes State Forest, Branchville (est. 1907)
Sunrise Mountain on this property is the second-highest mountain in the state.
Swartswood State Park, Newton (est. 1915)
If you're out on a sailboat, canoe or kayak, you can see bald eagles flying over the lakes here.
Jenny Jump State Forest, Hope (est. 1931)
Ice fishing is available at Jenny Jump during the winter months.
Stephens State Park, Hackettstown (est. 1937)
Fly fishing is very popular at this clearwater spot.
Worthington State Forest, Columbia (est. 1954)
Part of the Appalachian Trail, this forest crosses the Delaware River.
Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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