22 Best NJ State Parks with Mountains, Forests, Lakes, Beaches & More

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Ready to unleash your adventurous spirit through the natural wonders of the NJ state parks?

New Jersey features diverse landscapes that cater to a variety of outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. 

When it comes to state parks, there are around 27 of them spread across the state. 

These places encompass a wide range of terrains, including forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, providing ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration.

And each boasts its own experience and activities, such as hiking trails, camping sites, fishing spots, wildlife viewing, and water sports. 

To help you plan your visit, our comprehensive guide will take you on a whirlwind tour of New Jersey’s natural gems, highlighting the must-see state parks that will satisfy your craving for fun and adventure. 

If you want to venture further into the state, you may like our guides to Jersey Shore towns and New Jersey beaches.

Best New Jersey State Parks

The following list of state parks in New Jersey are mapped starting from the southernmost part of the state and then winds up north- making it easier for you to navigate these areas.

Cape May Point State Park

Probably one of the most popular New Jersey Shore state parks, Cape May Point State Park measures 244 acres along the Atlantic Ocean.

Its landscape features wetlands, dunes, and beaches, and is a great place to relax by the water.

The park has a number of hiking trails through the wetlands.

Birding is also a popular activity at the park.

Features also include an observation tower over the wetlands and remnants of the old Fort Miles, which used to exist in the area.

Fort Miles battery is located right in the middle of the beach, surrounded by sand, and there are stairs to the decks.

The park is also known for the Cape May Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse that has been standing since 1859- where there are tours operated outside of the park service.

We also have a guide to things to do in Cape May that you may find helpful.

The Cape May Lighthouse from 1859 stands at the southernmost tip of New Jersey in the charming little resort of Cape May Point

Corson’s Inlet State Park

Corson’s Inlet State Park is also one of the state parks in South Jersey; it’s located just south of Ocean City.

Smaller and more rugged than Cape May Point, this park primarily focuses on preserving the dunes along its 2 miles of shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean, Strathmere Bay, and Corson’s Inlet.

While offering a few miles of hiking trails, the park is mainly known for its water recreation opportunities.

With various launch points for single-person watercraft such as kayaks and paddleboards, as well as a boat ramp for larger boats, the park caters to a range of water adventurers.

The wetlands west of the park provide great paddling and fishing opportunities for people with small watercraft, and the open water access is great for those with big boats as well.

Parvin State Park

Also in southern New Jersey, Parvin State Park is a great place for families looking for a weekend camping.

The park is less than an hour from Philadelphia and features a lake, hundreds of acres of different forests, and 15 miles of trails.

Trails are open to hiking and are mostly flat.

Additionally, the lake presents fantastic opportunities for paddling enthusiasts with small watercraft.

For those deciding to spend the night but came without camping gear, the park also has a number of cabins open for reservation.

Stow Creek State Park

Stow Creek State Park offers a unique state park experience for visitors to New Jersey and Philadelphia.

The park is about 1100 acres and almost all of them are completely undeveloped.

There are no trails in Stow Creek, and there are only two developed sites in the park that are open to the public.

First is the boat ramp on Stow Creek, which offers water-based recreation of almost all kinds, and second is the bald eagle viewing platform located on the north side of the creek.

Stow Creek also offers great opportunities for fishing.

Around 1000 acres of the park’s area are also open to recreational and small game hunting.

Fort Mott State Park

Fort Mott State Park is a small park on the Delaware River.

While the park is small, it is packed with an assortment of things to do, as well as history and culture.

Fort Mott was built to defend the Delaware River at the end of the 19th Century; after decades of minimal maintenance, the state of New Jersey bought it in 1951 to designate it as a historic site.

Now a state park, the site has preserved much of the fort, and visitors can walk around and explore it for themselves.

The park also operates a seasonal passenger ferry service to Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River, which has more historic remnants on it, as well as to Fort Dupont State Park in Delaware.

Island Beach State Park

Island Beach State Park is located just south of Seaside Park, New Jersey.

If you’re looking for New Jersey state parks with a beach, this park has around 10 miles of sandy shores and nearly all of it is open to the public.

With the exception of the governor’s summer mansion, which is located within the park, all sections are open to the public.

While the park offers a handful of short nature trails, its main focus is providing visitors with a delightful beach experience.

On the other side of the peninsula is Barnegat Bay, which has wetlands and shallow waters great for paddling or fishing.

Just like the ocean side, the park has 10 miles of access to Barnegat Bay.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Just across Barnegat Inlet from Island Beach is Barnegat Lighthouse State Park.

A small park surrounds the lighthouse, encompassing the immediate area.

During park hours, the public is welcome to explore the lighthouse.

Climbing over 200 steps, you’ll reach the top of the lighthouse, rewarding you with breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

While the lighthouse doesn’t offer tours, there are information and education kiosks in the visitor center.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is located on Long Beach Island, which offers a delightful coastal escape with an abundance of activities and attractions to enjoy. 

Barnegat Lighthouse at sunset.

Double Trouble State Park

Double Trouble State Park is just south of Beachwood, a few miles from the coast.

The park is large, but mostly undeveloped, with nearly all trails being in the southeast corner of the park.

Winding through the predominantly flat bottomland alongside Cedar Creek, the trails offer a delightful journey through the heart of the park.

A variety of small reservoirs, perfect for paddling adventures, await exploration within the park’s boundaries.

Visitors can also paddle along Cedar Creek, and there is a designated landing on the west side of the park.

Pigeon Swamp State Park

Similar to Stow Creek, Pigeon Swamp State Park is almost completely undeveloped.

The park is located just north of Jamesburg and doesn’t contain any large bodies of water within it.

There are makeshift trails throughout which are also open to hikers looking for a more raw experience.

Note that almost the entire park is open to hunting and it would be advisable to stay informed about hunting seasons and areas designated for the activity during your visit. 

Cheesequake State Park

Cheesequake State Park is a large park located not too far from New York City.

The 1600-acre park has a lake, a creek for paddling, and nearly 10 miles of hiking trails.

Similar to most New Jersey parks, the park is almost entirely made up of wetlands and bottomlands, but the parts that aren’t are well-developed due to being so close to the city.

And if you’re looking for NJ state parks with swimming opportunities, the park has a lake with a beach where you can cool off and enjoy a refreshing swim.

Additionally, if you’re into kayaking, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a few designated launch points along Cheesequake Creek, offering a perfect setting for a peaceful paddle and exploration.

Liberty State Park

On the east side of the Hudson River lies Liberty State Park.

The park is a great location for an urban walk, with fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline.

There are also many ferry services across the Hudson from the park.

Aside from the open space, this place is also home to the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial and the Liberty Science Center, which features many hands-on exhibits and the largest planetarium in the western hemisphere.

You may also like our guide to things to do in Jersey City, NJ.

Skyline view from Liberty State Park in Jersey City New Jersey

Washington Rock State Park

Moving further and further north in New Jersey, Washington Rock State Park is located 15 miles west of New York City.

Despite its small size, the park’s prime location and abundance of amenities draw in crowds, offering half a mile of trails and a main attraction that showcases a stunning overlook of the Hudson Valley.

The ridge is almost 500 feet above sea level and offers great views of the New York skyline.

If you love a good vantage point, be sure to check out these observation decks in NYC.

Or explore nearby cities like Hoboken, NJ, and find cool things to do there.

Top of Rock view including Empire State Building

Voorhees State Park

Located atop a hill outside of High Bridge, Voorhees State Park is a hiker’s delight, with nearly 10 miles of trails and many great views.

Some of these views are of the Lockwood Gorge, and some are of the Round Valley Reservoir, located outside of the park.

The park has a large campground for overnight visitors and an observatory with a 26-inch telescope for viewing the night sky.

Since New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the United States, a rural area like this offers star-gazing opportunities not usually seen in the region.

Hacklebarney State Park

Hacklebarney State Park is located not too far from Voorhees outside of the city of Chester.

Centered around the steep valley of the Lamington River, this park boasts 5 miles of trails that traverse the hills within its sprawling 465-acre expanse.

Similarly to Voorhees, the park is known for hiking, which is its main activity.

That being said, most of the trails are at the north end of the park.

It is also important to note that 300 acres of land south are open to hunting.

Hacklebarney also features in our NJ fall foliage guide.

Sunlight peers through the trees in early Autumn in Hacklebarney State Park in Morris County New Jersey

Allamuchy Mountain State Park

The further north you go, you will find that hiking becomes more and more prevalent in these New Jersey State Parks!

Allamuchy Mountain State Park is centered around Allamuchy Mountain, which has a height of over 1,100 feet above sea level.

The park has 14 miles of trails that weave through the glaciated hills of northern New Jersey.

There are a number of small lakes ready for paddling as well, some are completely in the park, and some are only partially encircled.

Allamuchy Mountain is one of New Jersey’s largest state parks at over 2,400 acres.

Kittatinny Valley State Park

Kittatinny Valley State Park is located close to Allamuchy Mountain, the two parks are about 3 miles apart.

Water access in this park is easier than in the previous few, with Lake Aeroflex having a boat ramp and being adjacent to a park road.

Mountain bikers find Kittatinny Valley a perfect place to ride, with over 8 miles of trails designated for mountain bikers located in the park.

Featuring 15 miles of hiking trails, some of which overlap with the mountain bike trails, you’ll have ample opportunities for outdoor adventure.

It’s also interesting there is an airport located inside the boundaries of the park, however, it isn’t operated by the New Jersey DEP and instead by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

Swartswood State Park

Swartswood State Park is made up of three small units on the south side of Swartswood Lake, a large lake west of Newton, New Jersey.

The park also has a number of ponds completely within the park like Duck and Frog Ponds.

All these bodies of water are perfect for boating, whether it’s paddling on any of them or launching a boat on Swartswood Lake.

The park also has a number of hiking trails that weave through the glaciated hills of the park.

While hiking the trails, visitors will catch glimpses of all the small bodies of water in the park and may see a large variety of waterfowl.

Farny State Park

Farny State Park is a patchwork of land and trails centered around the Split Rock Reservoir in north central New Jersey.

The many trails in the area weave in and out of the park, with the other land around the lake being owned by Boy Scouts of America in their Camp Winnebago site.

Launching boats on the Split Rock Reservoir is possible, but can only be done outside the park, as the park is minimally developed.

The trails have a few overlooks over the lake, one of which is over 200 feet above the lake.

Long Pond Ironworks State Park

Long Pond Ironworks State Park is east of West Milford.

The park is large, with over 15 miles of trails weaving through the hills and around the Monksville Reservoir, the main body of water in the park.

There are multiple sites for fishing and launching boats on the east side of the lake.

Within the park lies a historic site that unveils intriguing tales of an iron “plantation” that thrived on the lake during the 1800s.

Reflections on the water in Long Pond Ironworks State Park New Jersey

Ringwood State Park

Ringwood State Park is less than a mile from Long Pond Ironworks and features similar geography.

The park also has a large list of activities including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and sledding during the colder season.

Ringwood is a fantastic state park to visit in the winter, with multiple sledding hills and ice fishing on Shepherd Lake.

Experience the state’s finest mountain biking amenities at the park, boasting over 50 miles of trails that cater to enthusiasts of the sport.

Discover three major man-made sites within the park, including the year-round accessible State Botanical Garden.

For those interested in history, explore Ringwood Manor, which delves into the ironworking region’s past, or indulge your architectural curiosity at Skylands Manor.

Note that a large portion of the park is open to hunting throughout the year so it’s best to check this hunting map so you can carefully plan your visit.

Ringwood is one of our favorite fall getaways in New Jersey, so be sure to check it out during the pretty foliage season!

Old looking outhouse at Ringwood Manor in New Jersey

Wawayanda State Park

If you’re looking to explore massive North Jersey state parks, head to Wawayanda State Park, the state’s largest at over 35,000 acres.

The park is located on the New York border north of West Milford and is home to many different activities; it isn’t far from Long Pond Ironworks State Park.

Nine lakes are accessible in the park ranging from the large Wawayanda Lake, which takes two hours to hike around, to small ponds like Lake Lookout.

The park is a hiker’s dream as well, with over 60 miles of trails weaving through hills, between lakes, and along ridges.

Five miles of the Appalachian Trail also run through the park.

High Point State Park

For high pointers traveling the east coast, High Point State Park is a dream come true.

A high point on public land, this is the highest point in New Jersey at an elevation of 1,804 feet above sea level.

Visitors can ascend even higher and stand atop the 220-foot-tall High Point Monument, a tribute honoring New Jersey’s veterans, offering breathtaking views from over 2,000 feet.

This is also one of the best NJ state parks for hiking as the Appalachian Trail runs through the park, providing extensive opportunities for the said activity in and outside the park.

The park is also one of New Jersey’s largest at over 16,000 acres.

Other things to do can include camping at the Sawmill Lake campground and fishing on one of the many small ponds within the park.

Aerial view of Port Jervis New York from High Point State Park New Jersey in fall

Final Thoughts

Have you explored any of these state parks in New Jersey?

We’d love to hear about your experiences, so feel free to leave your comments below and share your own adventures.

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