Great Lakes: Where to Make a Splash in NJ

Looking for some freshwater fun? Here’s our take on 20 New Jersey lakes.

At Lake Marcia, swimmers enjoy the view of High Point Memorial.
Photo by Robert Yaskovic/Agency New Jersey

Manasquan Reservoir
311 Windeler Road
Howell (Monmouth County)

Host to more than 1 million visitors each year, the Manasquan Reservoir is the most visited site in the Monmouth County Park System. The 1,204-acre wetland is home to the 770-acre reservoir, which provides up to 30 million gallons of water a day for the county. The park is open year-round, and the lake is stocked with large- and small-mouth bass, tiger muskie, bullhead catfish and panfish for fishing from April 1 through October 31. Hike the 5-mile perimeter trail, rent a kayak or motorized rowboat, enjoy a 45-minute guided boat tour. Keep your eyes peeled. You’re likely to spot turtles, egrets, herons and ospreys. The tour is $5.61 for adults and $3.50 for children 12 & under. —DAS

Lake Marcia
Route 23
Sussex (Sussex County)

It’s appropriate that love often seems to be in the air at this beautifully situated lake in the state’s extreme northwest corner. A poem was recently discovered tracing the name Lake Marcia to the girlfriend of the cartographer who first mapped the area. Today, the surrounding High Point State Park attracts about 10,000 visitors per season. Some come for the fabulous panorama from High Point Monument—the highest point in the state. Others settle in for a day at the lake, which is open for swimming from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day. Visitors can experience Lake Marcia (pronounced mar-see-uh) for the park entrance fee ($5 per Jersey car on weekdays, $10 weekends). The lake has grass and sand beaches, a concession stand and adjacent picnic tables and grills. A summer concert series runs June through August, with locally organized shows one Saturday per month. —Dana Inez

Merrill Creek Reservoir
34 Merrill Creek Road
Washington (Warren County)

Within the Merrill Creek Environmental Preserve, the reservoir’s main purpose is to store water. Yet the tranquil 650-acre lake also boasts a boat ramp, trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, and a variety of environmental programs such as moonlight paddle tours. In April, the state will stock Merrill Creek with approximately 4,500 brown and rainbow trout, including 90 to 100 broodstocks measuring 19 to 25 inches—nearly double the size of typical trout.—DAS

Round Valley Reservoir
1220 Lebanon-Stanton Road
Lebanon (Hunterdon County)

Approximately 180 feet deep, the reservoir is the state’s deepest inland body of water. Its depth, combined with its pristine clarity and rich aquatic life, makes it a hot spot not only for boating and fishing, but scuba and skin diving (April through October). Swimming is permitted from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day in the day-use area, separate from the main part of the reservoir. The beach area includes changing rooms and concession stands. Round Valley is also known for its wilderness camping, with eastern campsites accessible only by boat or a rugged 3-mile trail. —DAS

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    Hospitality Creek is NOT a good camp/swim at all. After having our own camp site for 2 years my nephew was attacked by a dog and 911 was called and he had to be taken to Cooper. They let the dog stay at the camp site when the dog should have been kicked out that day. They also play favorites and let some people break drinking rules and allowing loud music and people all night long. It’s over priced and we found a way better camp site then HC. Also be warned, even though they have 2 pools and a lake, it’s ALWAYS so crowded. We now belong to Kandle and it’s 100x better.