Echo Lake Park, NJ is the largest park in the state. It sits between two counties (Sussex and Morris) and stretches for nearly 5 miles, along the border of ‘Echo Lake’ (a man-made lake).
The park is mostly undeveloped with the exception of a few roads and a lake lodge. It has over 100 miles of trails, open to hikers and mountain bikers alike. There are several parking lots throughout the park, but it’s possible to hike between any two spots within the park in less than an hour.
4-wheeler trails are available throughout the park, but not marked on any map. Horseback riding is also permitted in non-peak times of the year.
The lake is stocked with trout and bass for fishing, although the water level fluctuates throughout the year due to upstream dams.
There are several other bodies of water in the park, all accessible by foot.
Pedal boats and kayaks may be rented on Echo Lake during the summer, and ice skating is available during the winter on Echo Lake.
Camping is also available for a small fee at one of two campgrounds.
The park contains several cleared spots that are used for large gatherings, such as weddings and concerts. Even though alcohol is allowed in this state park, no open containers are permitted anywhere on the premises except in the designated ‘beer gardens’. Beer gardens are located at each campground and near the lake lodge. Alcohol is not allowed in any other part of the park, but if a police officer catches somebody drinking their alcohol discreetly, they will usually turn a blind eye as long as nobody is being obnoxious about it.
In terms of wildlife, there are no dangerous animals to worry about. There are deer and bear populations, but they are typically afraid of humans. However, keep in mind that just because there aren’t any dangerous animals doesn’t mean you’re completely safe. Wandering off the trails can lead to encounters with rattlesnakes, copperheads, and bears (depending on the time of year), so make sure you know where you are stepping.
The park is open year-round with limited hours from November through May. There are three main entrances to the park, two of which require an entrance fee ($10 for out-of-state vehicles). The fee gets you access for the entire week if entering on a Friday or Saturday. The third entrance is free of charge and usually open 24 hours.
The park costs nearly $1 million to maintain annually but has no entrance fees during non-peak times of the year (November through May).
Overall, Echo Lake Park is a beautiful state park that offers many activities for all types of people.