15 Best Lakes in New Jersey

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Though New Jersey might not be the first place you think of when you consider great states for visiting lakes, it does in fact offer a variety of options that are both clear and ready to be explored. From the lakes in the north with close proximity to New York City, all the way to southern Jersey where lakes are nestled in national forests surrounding by silent campsites.

Lets have a look at the best lakes to visit in New Jersey:

1. Lake Hopatcong

Lake HopatcongSource: flickr
Lake Hopatcong

With about four square miles of lake surface, this is the largest freshwater body in the state of New Jersey.

Located just 40 miles from New York City, this is a popular summer destination for those looking to get away from the city heat. It is lined with residential homes, but there are also a few resorts for those visiting to take advantage of.

One of the main features of this beautiful lake is the Lake Hopatcong State Park which is open year round for visitors looking to take advantage of all that the lake has to offer. Located at the south end of the pond, the park offers access to fishing, boating, and swimming.

2. Lake Atsion

Lake AtsionSource: flickr
Lake Atsion

Located deep in Wharton State Forest, swimming is permitted when lifeguards are on duty and has a wonderful sandy beach to enjoy. The lake is part of historic Batsto Village which was originally founded in 1766 as a bog iron and glass making industrial center. In the village you can find shops, galleries and the interpretive center.

The entire Wharton State Forest offers a variety of lakes, ponds, and rivers to explore. Campsites of all kinds can be found throughout the forest, so there is something for everyone.

3. Round Valley Reservoir

Round Valley ReservoirSource: flickr
Round Valley Reservoir

Formed in 1960, this is the largest reservoir in the state of New Jersey. The reservoir offers some excellent fishing including bass, pickerel, catfish, eel, perch, and two types of trout. It is also claimed to be the most southern body of water where lake trout naturally reproduce.

The reservoir is known for its crystal clear blue water. Camping, swimming, a scuba diving facility, a boat ramp and plenty of hiking and biking trail can all be found in this reservoir. Interestingly, it is occasionally called the bermuda Triangle of New Jersey as 26 people have drowned there since 1971, of which six have never been found.

4. Farrington Lake

Farrington LakeSource: flickr
Farrington Lake

This is one place that you want to make sure you visit on a rainy day. This lake is in fact man made and is created by a dam. When it rains, the excess water cascades down the steps on one side of the dam, creating a stunning visual effect.

This lake is relatively shallow and only averages about 6ft in depth. In addition, only electric motors are allowed on boats.

This fishing here is also primed for success, so grab your rod and head over!

5. Monksville Reservoir

Monksville ReservoirSource: flickr
Monksville Reservoir

Sitting on top of the now defunct township of Monksville, this reservoir was created in 1985 and is known for is excellent fishing. With two boat launches, one on the north side and one on the south side, this reservoir is easy to access for boats of all sizes.

There is a small shop on the south launch of the reservoir that offers kayak and paddleboard rentals. The majority of the surrounding area is managed by the Long Pond Ironworks State Park. The area was known for its ironworks as the fledgling United States was just emerging as a country in the 18th century.

6. Manasquan Reservoir

Manasquan ReservoirSource: flickr
Manasquan Reservoir

Manasquan Reservoir is truly a multi-use recreational area. It advertises fishing, boating, swimming, beaches, and miles of trails for walk, running, biking, and horses alike. This place could keep you entertained for days if need be.

With over a million visitors a year this is one of New Jersey’s busiest lakes. If you are looking to learn a little bit about the flora and fauna of the area, be sure to check out the park’s environmental center.

With five different hiking trails criss-crossing through the park, there is sure to be something for your pace and skill level.

7. Lake Carnegie

Lake CarnegieSource: flickr
Lake Carnegie

Lake Carnegie has an interesting a rich history. Located alongside Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, Lake Carnegie is a man made lake constructed solely for the usage of the Princeton University rowing team. Andrew Carnegie, the American industrialist, bought the farm land in the area after hearing the the Princeton crew team needed a safe place to practice. In time, he eventually acquired enough land and began to construct the dam and bridges needed to created the blissful lake.

The lake continues to be home to the Princeton University crew team and is also home to the US Olympic Rowing Team. It is privately owned, however fishing and ice skating and encouraged as well as picnicking along the shores.

8. Deal Lake

Deal LakeSource: flickr
Deal Lake

Deal Lake was originally constructed when an inlet connected to the Atlantic Ocean was purposefully blocked to create a handful of lakes and ponds in the area. Since then, the area around it has developed as a prominent suburb of New York City.

Since the mid 20th century, efforts have been made to clean up the lake and make it safer for people and more habitable for fish and other animals.

9. Mercer Lake

Mercer LakeSource: flickr
Mercer Lake

Mercer Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in central New Jersey, or so it claims. It is also home to a variety of rowing events year round as it meets the international standards for crew racing. It has held olympic trials for many years. It was created in 1975 due to dam construction to control flooding further downstream. It has great fishing and is a wonderful spot to relax.

10. Merrill Creek Reservoir

Merrill Creek ReservoirSource: flickr
Merrill Creek Reservoir

Though Merrill Creek Reservoir is in fact a man made lake, the 290 acres around the water are protected land and cannot be developed. It is the deepest man made lake in New Jersey which allows it to keep a healthy population of lake trout year round.

It has a variety of wildlife including deer, turkey, and bald eagles. Fishing is also a popular pastime on the lake with a variety of fish species to be discovered.

11. Green Pond

Green PondSource: flickr
Green Pond

Looking for crystal clear waters to enjoy in the depths of New Jersey? Check out Green Pond, which, despite it’s name, is quite clear due to an underground spring the feeds the lake. Fishing here is also prime. It gain access to the lake you must known someone who resides on the lakeshore as the community has claimed responsibility for protecting the lake and its assets.

The area is also known for its mining history with a handful of mines in close proximity to the lake and surrounding area.

In 2003 The Station Agent, an indie film, was filmed in the area of Green Pond and surrounding communities. However lake access was not allowed to the filmmakers, so they were forced to use a stand in lake for shots that were meant to be Green Pond.

12. Ramapo Lake

Ramapo LakeSource: flickr
Ramapo Lake

Located within Ramapo Mountain State Forest, this lake and state forest offers it all. Camping, hiking, hunting, canoeing, cross-country skiing and mountain biking. The lake itself offers opportunities to fish and bird-watch, however swimming is not allowed.

There are a variety of trails snaking their way around the lake, with a few spots that offer spectacular views of the New York City skyline. The trails will also lead you to the very impressive ruins of Foxcroft, a mansion that was built on top of one of the hills in the area but was unfortunately destroyed due to a fire. RyeCliff Estate still sits atop the hill and also offers splendid 360 views.

13. Sunfish Pond

Sunfish PondSource: flickr
Sunfish Pond

Though there is no swimming in Sunfish Pond, if you are looking for a serene place to take a hike then look no further. Sunfish Pond has some excellent hiking trails of varying difficulty. The Appalachian Trail runs along the side of the lake for a distance, so be sure to be friendly to those who look a little haggard!

There is a Leave No Trace campground nearby if you are looking for a quick spot to pitch your tent and spend the night. This beautiful and peaceful pond might be just what you are looking for.

14. Lake Mohawk

Lake MohawkSource: flickr
Lake Mohawk

Lake Mohawk is located in Sparta County in northern New Jersey. It has a long history of summer cottages for the rich and famous of New York City, though in recent years the community has developed its own year round residents.

The lake itself is great for boating and fishing. There are also some wonderful hiking trails and paths that make their way around the edge of the lake for those looking to take in the sunset.

15. Westons Mill Pond

Westons Mill PondSource: flickr
Westons Mill Pond

Westons Mill Pond is located directly outside of New York City and makes for an easy day trip for those looking to get out of the city for a bit. If you have a boat, be sure to bring it with you, but be advised that gasoline motors are prohibited due to the delicate ecosystem located in and around the pond.

Westons Mill Pond is also a man made pond with a dam located at the southern end. The dam itself is quite beautiful and certainly warrants the short hike over to take a peak. Fishing is of course a popular activity on the pond, so be sure to pack your rod and reel!

15 Best Lakes in New Jersey:

  • Lake Hopatcong
  • Lake Atsion
  • Round Valley Reservoir
  • Farrington Lake
  • Monksville Reservoir
  • Manasquan Reservoir
  • Lake Carnegie
  • Deal Lake
  • Mercer Lake
  • Merrill Creek Reservoir
  • Green Pond
  • Ramapo Lake
  • Sunfish Pond
  • Lake Mohawk
  • Westons Mill Pond