Great Lakes: Where to Make a Splash in NJ

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

Shepherd Lake
Shepherd Pond Road
Ringwood (Passaic County)
973-962-7031

Touching the New York/New Jersey border, Shepherd Lake is a peaceful retreat from North Jersey bustle—save for the cracks of rifle at the nearby shooting range. The 74-acre spring-fed lake—within Ringwood State Park—has a sandy beach, concession stand and hiking trails. Lifeguarded swimming is available Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. The entrance fee is $5 on summer weekdays and $10 on the weekends with Jersey plates. Boat rentals—electric-powered only—are available for $17 an hour. Fishermen are welcome year-round to catch bass and pickerel.—CC

Spruce Run Reservoir
68 Van Syckel’s Road
Clinton (Hunterdon)
908-638-8572

The 1,290-acre Spruce Run Reservoir—the third largest reservoir in the state—attracts picnickers, swimmers, anglers, boaters and campers. In the waters of Spruce Run swim 29 species of fish, including largemouth bass, catfish and yellow perch. On its 15 miles of recreational shoreline, visitors can enjoy a beach complex with a concession building and changing rooms, as well as 67 tent and trailer camp sites. Boat rentals are also available. Admission year-round is $5 per car for Jersey residents on weekdays, and $10 on weekends and holidays.—DAS

Stony Lake
1 Coursen Road
Branchville (Sussex County)
973-948-3820

Stony Lake is a quiet gem in the sprawling and impressive Stokes State Forest. The park, bordered on the east by a 20-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, is home to Sunrise Mountain, with its panoramic view from 1,653 feet above sea level. Swimming is available from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. The picnic area at the lake has 45 tables with grills. Campsites, lean-tos and 10 furnished cabins accommodating up to 12 people are available for rent; the smaller, four-person cabins run $55 per night and $385 per week for New Jersey residents. For anglers, the lake is stocked with trout.—DI

Sunrise Lake
270 Mendham Road
Morris Township (Morris County)
973-267-4351 (in season)
973-326-7616 (off season)

What Sunrise Lake in Lewis Morris Park lacks in size it makes up for in the variety of activities it offers. This family-friendly spot features a 30-by-50-foot floating jungle gym called a Wibit, from which kids can slide into the lake. Half the fun is climbing back on (older siblings can help the little ones). Weekday beach access is $6 for adults and $5 for children or seniors; $8 and $7 on holidays and weekends. Toddlers always lounge for free. Visitors can also enjoy volleyball on the beach and rowboat and paddleboat rentals ($5 to $7 for half an hour). Pack a lunch—the concession stand will be closed this season.—CC

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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.