1. Stephens State Park
Two forested picnic areas lie to the north and south of the Stephens State Park office. An access
road heads south from the office to a small parking area, where you will find a short trail leading
to about 10 tables overlooking the Musconetcong River. Restrooms are located along the trail,
and a water pump sits at the trailhead. Another trail heads north from the office, and isolated
picnic tables line the riverbank from the trailhead to a parking area on Waterloo Valley Road.
Water pumps are evenly spaced along the .6-mile trail, and restrooms lie at each end. At the north
end, a bridge leads across the Musconetcong River to a small island holding four quiet tables and
one central grill.
New Jersey's Top Five Secluded Picnic Areas
2. Brendan T. Byrne State Forest
Brendan Byrne’s picnic areas lie on the
shore of Pakim Pond, and are fairly
serene if you arrive on a weekday or
during the off season. Two covered
pavilions and 30 tables overlook the
pond near a parking area, with grills,
restrooms, and water from ground
pumps on the site. Groups of 20 or
more can reserve the picnic areas up to
five days in advance. Turn left out of
the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest
office onto Shinns Road and drive 2.2
miles to the stop sign. Turn left and
proceed .6 mile to the Pakim Pond
picnic area on the left.
|Pakim Pond, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest
3. Hialeah Picnic Area
This site actually borders New Jersey, just across the Delaware River near Worthington State
Forest. You can forget grass lawns and tables strung end to end while you're here—Hialeah
Picnic Area is a simple and serene spot to unpack a lunch. Each table comes with its own parking
spot, and the entire site is bordered by forest to the west and the Delaware River to the east.
Tables at the north end offer the best views of the river and are closer to McDade Trail, a five-
mile path paralleling the Delaware. There’s a modern restroom, but Hialeah is not overdeveloped,
as evidenced by an absence of grills. The picnic area lies on the east side of River Road, about
four miles north of the town of Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania.
4. Round Valley Recreation Area
Four picnic areas at Round Valley offer peaceful spots for an afternoon if you arrive on a
weekday or during the off season. They are usually busy on summer weekends. The North Area
is surrounded by relaxing scenery, where tables sit directly at the water’s edge and in private,
wooded groves. The East Area offers views of the reservoir and a trail along the shore leading to
the beach, where green herons and other waterbirds linger near the shoreline. Tables along the
beach are popular during the summer, and the West Area sees the least activity since it lies some
distance from the water. Restrooms, grills, drinking water, and covered pavilions are available at
all of the sites. Round Valley is located in Hunterdon County, 1.5 miles south of Lebanon
Borough on the east side of Route 629.
5. Van Campens Glen and Watergate Recreation Sites
Driving north of the Worthington State Forest office for 6.2 miles along Old Mine Road brings
you to Van Campens Glen Recreation Site on the right, a forested picnic area on Van Campens
Brook. About 1.7 miles farther north lies the Watergate Recreation Site on the right, offering an
open air concert area, 50 picnic tables, parking, restrooms, and trails, all situated around a small
lake. The yellow-blazed Van Campens Trail stretches between the two recreation areas, following
Van Campens Brook past one waterfall and a small footbridge. Watergate Recreation Site charges
an entrance fee throughout the summer.
|All material copyright 1990-2014 Scott Zamek
New Jersey State Parks is a Stackpole Books publication