Cheesequake State Park

Cheesequake State Park has little to do with tasty desserts, but plenty to do with open fields, marshes, a white cedar swamp,and Pine Barrens habitats.

Cheesequake State Park
Matawan (Monmouth County)
Size of park: 1,609 acres

Although it conjures images of a custard-like dessert, Cheesequake’s name is derived from a sub-tribe of the Lenni Lenape called the Chichequaas, who long ago lived in the area. The park’s varied landscape includes open fields, marshes, a white cedar swamp, Pine Barrens habitats, and a northeastern hardwood forest.

Five color-coded loop trails of varying difficulty attract hikers of all abilities. With its steep inclines, the 2.5-mile blue trail is Cheesequake’s most difficult; it includes boardwalks over the salt marsh. At the other extreme, the 1.5-mile yellow trail is a short, easy walk offering elevated views of the salt marsh and Hooks Creek Lake, where boaters can kayak, canoe, and boat (car-top launch only), and anglers can reel in trout, bass, catfish, and sunfish.

The park’s picnic areas, equipped with tables and grills, are perfect for a day-trip lunch, but the noise from the Garden State Parkway, which cuts through the park, can be distracting. For an educational experience, head for the Interpretive Center. Call 732-566-3208 for event details.

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