If you like discovering hidden spots where you can relax and unwind, you’ll probably enjoy reading this; in this article, we’ll cover the biggest lakes in New Jersey, tell you what to see and do around, and what makes each of these hidden gems in New Jersey special. So, grab your gear, and let’s explore these watery wonders together. But before we begin, let’s cover some basics…
Helpful Tips For Visiting The Biggest Lakes In New Jersey
Weather Check: New Jersey’s weather likes to play tricks. Always take a peek at the forecast before you head out.
Fishing? Get Licensed: Planning to fish? Make sure you’re legal with a fishing license. Trust me, it’s less hassle than dealing with the authorities.
Wildlife? Look, Don’t Touch: The animals are cool, but let’s keep it to a ‘no selfies with the ducks’ policy, alright?
Safety? Non-negotiable: Swimming or boating, life jackets are your best pals. No heroics, please.
Clean as You Go: Bring a trash bag. Leave only footprints, take only memories (and your garbage).
Local Bites: Hit up those lakeside cafes. Good food, and you’re helping the local economy. Win-win.
Road Trip Ready: Exploring New Jersey’s lakes by car? We’ve got you covered. Use our special Auto Europe rental car link and save up to 25% on rentals. Trust me, nothing beats the freedom of driving to your next lake adventure.
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Stay Covered on Your Travels: We know, travel insurance isn’t the most exciting topic, but hear us out. With this SafetyWing travel insurance offer, you can explore New Jersey’s lakes with peace of mind. It’s a small price to pay for a lot of reassurances.
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Lake Musconetcong (329 acres)
We start this list of the biggest lakes in New Jersey with Lake Musconetcong. Lake Musconetcong is like that cool, off-the-radar spot that locals might not brag about too loudly for fear it’ll get overrun with out-of-towners. Sitting pretty at 329 acres, this lake straddles the border of Morris and Sussex counties and is a stone’s throw away from Hopatcong State Park. Originally crafted in the mid-19th century as the Stanhope Reservoir, Lake Musconetcong served as an additional water source for the Morris Canal – a waterway that was the GPS of its time for transporting coal and other goods.
Over time, as the canal fell out of use, the lake shifted from industrial MVP to recreational VIP. These days, Lake Musconetcong is where you go to drop a line and hope for a fishy nibble, paddle around in a kayak, or just chill on the shore. In the winter, when it’s colder than a polar bear’s toenails, ice fishing aficionados take to the frozen waters.
Green Pond (465 acres)
Don’t let the name ‘pond’ fool you; New Jersey’s Green Pond is a 465-acre spring-fed glacial treasure that is more a lake than it is a pond. Located in Morris County, this lake has glacial origins and spring-fed sources which contribute to some of the clearest waters you could find in this part of the country.
Interestingly, the lake used to be an iron mining hotbed in the 19th century, however, those days are long gone and today, it’s one of the most beautiful relaxation spots in New Jersey. In the summer, the lake also offers a lot of water activities and fishing (mainly for trout and bass).
Monksville Reservoir (505 acres)
Monksville Reservoir, weighing in at a solid 505 acres, is nestled in the northern reaches of New Jersey, specifically within the Highlands region of Passaic County.
Created in 1987, this water haven was born out of necessity to keep northern New Jersey’s taps flowing during the dry spells of the ’80s. Now, it’s a favorite for anglers dreaming of the big catch, sailors looking for that perfect gust, and paddlers wanting serene waters with a side of scenic views.
Swartswood Lake (520 acres)
Tucked away in New Jersey’s Sussex County, Swartswood Lake is one of our favorite serene retreats in the state. Swartswood Lake is famous for being one of New Jersey’s most beautiful glacial lakes, stretching three miles long and one mile wide. The lake is very popular among local boaters, fishers, and those who just want to take a dip in nature’s pool. Last but not least, the lake is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including various species of fish, including popular game species like trout, bass, and perch but also migratory birds, and raptors.
Muckshaw Pond Preserve (530 acres)
Next on our list of the biggest lakes in New Jersey, we have Muckshaw Pond Preserve, a man-made body of water with rich ecological diversity managed by the Nature Conservancy. The preserve is known for its three interconnected ponds, a vast network of trails for trekking enthusiasts, or just people looking for a peaceful walk, and of course its flora and fauna.
Culver’s Lake (555 acres)
Culver’s Lake, formerly known as Round Pond, sprawls out over 555 acres in Sussex County, New Jersey. Don’t be misled by its once-humble moniker; this lake is a substantial body of water with an impressive six and a half miles of shoreline to explore. It’s like a blue oasis set at a lofty elevation of 830 feet above sea level, offering a high-altitude escape for those in the know.
Culver’s Lake is an exclusive spot, privately owned and operated by the Normanoch Association. It’s where the local elite might kick back, their laughter echoing over the water which has an average depth of 50 feet, perfect for those who fancy a bit of diving or serious fishing.
Merrill Creek Reservoir (650 acres)
Merrill Creek Reservoir in New Jersey is like a modern-day aquatic marvel, a man-made masterpiece completed in 1988 after a grand investment of $217 million and 13 years of meticulous planning and construction. Nestled in the heart of Warren County, specifically Harmony Township, this 650-acre reservoir is one of the biggest lakes in New Jersey.
Surrounded by a 290-acre environmental preserve and an additional 2,000 acres of lush woods and fields, Merrill Creek Reservoir is a testament to both human engineering and natural beauty.
Manasquan Reservoir (770 acres)
This list of the biggest lakes in New Jersey couldn’t be complete without Manasquan Reservoir. Manasquan Reservoir in New Jersey is like the state’s own secret water playground, sprawling over an impressive 1,100 acres. Nestled in Monmouth County, it’s the fifth-largest in the state.
Fed by the Manasquan River and its tributaries, the Swimming and Navesink Rivers, Manasquan Reservoir is an active part of the local ecosystem. Its capacity of a whopping 37.5 billion gallons is mind-boggling, sure, but it’s the life on and around the reservoir that truly captivates. The lake is also a haven for anglers, with waters teeming with fish but also a popular spot for boating and kayaking.
Mohawk Lake (800 acres)
Nestled in the mountains of New Jersey, Lake Mohawk spans across 800 acres, making it one of the biggest lakes in New Jersey. This private lake, spring-fed and graced by an Alpine Pool, embodies a serene mountain getaway vibe. The community around Lake Mohawk embraces an alpine motif, perhaps a nod to the Swiss-like backdrop provided by the surrounding peaks.
Union Lake (898 acres)
Union Lake, a substantial 898-acre man-made reservoir, is snuggled in the southern part of New Jersey, specifically in the town of Millville. However, despite being man-made, it’s still one of the biggest lakes in New Jersey. Dating back to the 1790s, when it was just a tiny reservoir created by damming the Maurice River, Union Lake has evolved into a significant aquatic feature after 1868, when the Millville Manufacturing Company built a new dam, beefing up its size considerably.
Lake Tappan (1,255 acres)
Lake Tappan in New Jersey, sprawling across 1,255 acres, is quite the aquatic marvel in Bergen County. Created to quench the thirst of nearby areas, it holds a staggering 3.5 billion US gallons of water. Each day, it dutifully releases up to 13 million gallons downstream to the Oradell Reservoir, a neighbor that lies entirely within Bergen County. Located at a modest elevation of 56 feet, Lake Tappan is a recreational hotspot, where the locals and visitors alike can indulge in a bit of fishing or boating.
Spruce Run Reservoir (1,290 acres)
Spruce Run Reservoir, spreading over a generous 1,290 acres in New Jersey’s Hunterdon County, is a real heavyweight in the world of lakes in New Jersey. This water-filled haven is cozily nestled within the rolling hills of Union and Clinton Townships, offering a picturesque setting that’s just begging for a day trip. Spruce Run is one of the first water supply facilities constructed and operated by the state and currently, it’s the third-largest reservoir in New Jersey, and a paradise for picnickers, swimmers, fishermen, boaters, and campers.
Greenwood Lake (1,920 acres)
Greenwood Lake straddles the border of New York and New Jersey, laying in the Town of Warwick, New York (Orange County), and West Milford, New Jersey (Passaic County). It’s a lake with quite the backstory, originally known as “Quampium” by the Munsee Native Americans and later renamed “Long Pond” by European settlers in the 18th century, who were drawn to the area for farming and ironmaking.
The lake we see today is the result of several modifications over the years. Around 1765, Peter Hasenclever of The American Company dammed the lake to enlarge it for water power used at the Long Pond Ironworks. Then, in 1837, it underwent another transformation when the Morris Canal & Banking Company built a new dam at its current location to supply water to the Morris Canal. This expansion not only increased the lake’s size but also created new geographical features like the East Arm and Chapel Island.
And if you’re planning to combine you trip to Jersey with a visit of the Big Apple, check out this list of things you only find in New York, this shopping guide to New York, this guide to solo travel in New York, and this guide to Niagara Falls for couples.
Round Valley Reservoir (2,350 acres)
Next on our list of the biggest lakes in New Jersey, we have the state’s largest reservoir- Round Valley. This mammoth body of water spans a staggering 2,350 acres and plunges to depths of around 180 feet. In addition to this, the reservoir is also one of the best hiking destinations in Jersey (there are a lot of hiking trails surrounding the reservoir) but also one of the best fishing spots and a ton of other popular water sports. Oh, and let’s not forget that Round Valley is the only state park in New Jersey that offers wilderness camping. What more can you really ask?
Lake Hopatcong (2,500 acres)
Last but not least, we round up this list of the biggest lakes in New Jersey with the largest lake around- Lake Hopatcong. Lake Hopatcong is a true gem nestled in the state’s northern highlands region. Covering about 4 square miles, this lake is a significant landmark, straddling the border between Sussex and Morris counties. Initially, it was created by damming and flooding two smaller ponds, the Great Pond and Little Pond, along with the Musconetcong River, which serves as its natural outlet.
Back in the day, Lake Hopatcong was a buzzing resort destination, drawing vacationing New Yorkers who sought a respite from the city’s hustle and today, it’s transformed into a predominantly suburban residential area, but its allure still remains…
How did you like our list? Did you ever visit any of these lakes? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below?
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