Where to Camp in the Garden State
When you think of the state of New Jersey, what comes to mind? Its hundreds of miles of seashore? Its famous residents such as Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra and Jon Bon Jovi? The Atlantic City boardwalk? Industry?
Most likely, you don’t associate New Jersey with camping or outdoor adventure, but that is a mistake. Though New Jersey is small and mostly urban, there are several hidden gems in this state that make for great camping destinations.
Here are our favorite places to camp in New Jersey.
Some of the most rugged terrain and splendid views of northern New Jersey are found in Worthington State Forest. A rocky and sometimes steep trail follows Dunnfield Creek from the Delaware River to Mount Tammany or hikers may choose to follow the trail to Sunfish Pond, one of the most popular sites in the area. Millions of years in the making, the pond was carved out by glacial forces during the last ice age and is one of fourteen rock-basin lakes between the Delaware Water Gap and the end of Kittatinny Ridge. A trail circles the pond, with many boulders and openings for resting and observation. Learn more.
On December 25, 1776, the icy waters of the Delaware River provided the setting for one of the pivotal events of the American Revolution. The Continental Army had little to celebrate that Christmas and seemed beat by hunger and cold. After crossing the rough winter river at night, General George Washington and the Continental Army landed at Johnson’s Ferry, at the site now known as Washington Crossing State Park. At 4 am, they began their march to Trenton where they defeated the Hessian troops in an unexpected attack. This battle was quickly followed by the Second Battle of Trenton on January 2, 1777, and the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. Learn more.
Hidden in the southwestern part of the state is Parvin State Park, a park whose history is as varied as its wildlife. Situated on the edge of the Pine Barrens, the park not only has pine forests typical to the area but also a swamp hardwood forest. Spring bursts out in bright colors and rich fragrances with blossoming dogwood, laurel, holly, magnolia, wild azalea and over 200 kinds of flowering plants. Thundergust Lake, Parvin Lake and Muddy Run are popular for fishing and boating. Swimming is allowed in Parvin Lake only. Learn more.
The quiet charm of Wawayanda appeals to hikers, campers, swimmers and boaters. Forested hills surround Lake Wawayanda creating a restful backdrop for canoeists, boaters and fisherman, while steep mountains challenge casual as well as serious hikers. A twenty-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park, while the top of Wawayanda Mountain offers sensational views. More than sixty miles of trails are marked in the park. Learn more.
Glacial lakes, limestone outcroppings, former railroads, and a small airport are features of Kittatinny Valley State Park. Lake Aeroflex and Gardner’s Pond form part of the headwaters of the Pequest River and are excellent for fishing and boating. This scenic property is home to a variety of wildlife such as whitetail deer, wild turkey, a variety of songbirds, beaver, muskrats, and squirrels. Hunting, hiking, mountain biking, birding, and horseback riding are popular activities. The four lakes offer fishing, boating, and kayaking opportunities. Learn more.
The River gradually widens as it picks up the waters of 17 tributaries on its way to Great Egg Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Established by Congress in 1992, nearly all of this 129-mile river system rests within the Pinelands National Reserve. This National Park Service unit is unusual in that local jurisdictions continue to administer the lands. Learn more.
Allaire State Park is probably best known for its historic 19th-century iron making town, Allaire Village, and its antique steam trains on the Pine Creek Railroad. The Manasquan River, which winds through the park, attracts canoeists and fishermen. The river’s floodplain provides habitat for over 200 species of wildflowers, trees and plants as well as habitat for birds and other wildlife. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders enjoy the many trails in the park. Learn more.
Do you have a favorite camping spot in New Jersey that wasn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments!