Parks and Recreation

State Parks

The Rugged areas of Northern New Jersey have a reputation for history, picturesque landscapes and outdoor recreation opportunities. Stephens and Allamuchy Mountain State Parks are prime examples of this combination of culture, scenery and activities. These 9,200 acres of parklands are located between Hackettstown and Cranberry Lake in Morris, Warren and Sussex Counties.

Allamuchy Mountain State Park is located 3 miles north of Hackettstown between Willow Grove/Waterloo Road (Route 604) on the east, Route 517 on the west and Cranberry Lake (Route 206) on the north. Stephens State Park lies along the Musconetcong River and is located 2 miles north of Hackettstown on Route 604 or 7+ miles west of Route 206 on Route 604, also known as Waterloo Road. The office for both parks is located in Stephens State Park.

History - Allamuchy Mountain inherited its name from among the first inhabitants of the area - the Lenape Indians. The leader of this particular settlement was Chief Allamuchahokkingen, whose name means, "place within the hills." The same name was given to the first settlement in 1715. Allmuchahokkingen was later shortened to Mamuchahoken and then in 1737 to Allamucha.

The majority of the land, 8,398 acres, that composes Allamuchy Mountain State Park was part of the Rutherford and Stuyvesant estates. These families are distinguished as the direct descendent of Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of New Amsterdam. In the early 1970's, the State of New Jersey purchased this property with green acres bond funds. Stephens State Park consists of 805 acres of land situated along the Musconetcong River. 228 of those acres were donated to the State of New Jersey for recreational purposes in 1937 by the late Marsena P. and Augustus W. Stephens.

Within Stephens State Park is a portion of the Morris Canal. The original canal was 90 miles in length and ran from Newark to Phillipsburg. During the 19th century, coal was in great demand for northern New Jersey iron industries, and the Morris Canal was the primary means of transporting coal and iron across the state. With the development of the Morris and Essex Railroad in the late 1800s, coal could only be delivered in only eight hours compared to the canal's five-day trip. The canal could not compete with the railroad and was eventually abandoned. The State of New Jersey received Lake Hopatcong, Lake Musconetcong and the canal corridor from the Morris Canal and Banking Company in 1922. Today, remains of the old canal can be seen at Waterloo Village and Saxton Falls Dam.

ALLAMUCHY NATURAL AREA - The Allamuchy Natural Area is a patchwork of different natural habitats with some 15 miles of trails criss-crossing over the land. From these trails, visitors have an excellent opportunity to view the beauty of mixed oak hardwood forests, hemlock-spruce forests, successional fields, lush swamp-hardwood forests, and northern marshlands.

As well as being an ideal place for exploring nature, the natural area provides ample recreational activities. Hiking, horseback riding, jogging and cross-country skiing can be enjoyed on the areas trail system. Deer Park Pond and Allamuchy Pond are plentiful with bass and pickerel for visitor's angling pleasure.

SAXTON FALLS - Less than one mile upstream from Stephens State Park, Saxton Falls contains the remains of one of the Morris Canal's 28 locks with a section of the old canal's towpath. This area was acquired when the Morris Canal was abandoned in 1922.

Although Saxton Falls is an interesting spot for historians, this part of the Musconetcong River contains some favorite trout pools for New Jersey's anglers.

WATERLOO VILLAGE - Located along the banks of the Morris Canal, on the Musconetcong River, Waterloo Village allows the visitor to experience the history and growth of an area, from the replica of a four hundred-year-old Lenape (Delaware) Indian Village to a bustling port along the once prosperous Morris Canal.

The Village is leased to the Waterloo Foundation for the Arts, Inc., for operation and development, and is open to visitors from mid-April through December.

The Waterloo Festival for the Arts takes place in the Village from May through October and offers a diverse cultural program of classical and popular music, as well as dance and opera. For more information and a schedule of events contact: Waterloo Foundation for the Arts, Inc., Waterloo Village, Stanhope, N.J. 07874, Village Office (973) 347-0900, email: infor@waterloovillage.org

PICNICKING - Picnic sites are available at Stephens State Park, along the scenic Musconetcong River and at the upper picnic area. Charcoal grills, tables and restroom facilities are provided. Playground equipment and a small open play field are available nearby. Charcoal fires must be confined to metal grills that are provided at the site, or to grills brought by the picnicker which are subject to approval by a park official. Wood fires are not permitted. Fires are not permitted in Allamuchy Natural Area.

CAMPING - Family campsites are located in an attractive wooded area of Stephens State Park and are available from April 1st through October 31st. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table and space for a tent, small tent trailer or small recreational vehicle. Camping facilities include restrooms with no showers, drinking water and playground for children. Campers may make reservations by telephone, mail or in person at the Park office. These camping facilities are partially accessible to disabled persons.

TRAILS - More than 15 miles of marked trails await the avid hiker or casual walker in the Allamuchy Natural Area as well as 25 miles of unmarked trails in the Northern section of Allamuchy. These trails are open to hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding. All terrain vehicles (ATV's) are not permitted in the park.

FISHING - Stephens and Allamuchy Mountain State Parks provide excellent fishing opportunities to the freshwater angler year-round. During the spring, the NJ division of Fish and Wildlife stocks the Musconetcong River with brown, rainbow and brook trout. Deer Park Pond, Allamuchy Pond, Jefferson Lake and Cranberry Lake offer warm water species such as largemouth bass, sunfish, catfish, perch and pickerel. During the winter months perch and pickerel are caught through the ice.

HUNTING - Stephens State Park is designated as a NO HUNTING area. Hunting and the carrying of firearms or bows and arrows are prohibited. Parts of Allamuchy Mountain State Park are available for hunting. The Allamuchy Natural Area is identified as a special hunting area for deer only. Fishing and Hunting are subject to New Jersey's Fish and Wildlife regulations.

BOATING - Cranberry Lake, located along Route 206, is a popular spot for boating, fishing and ice fishing. A boat ramp is available for public use.

FALL & WINTER ACTIVITIES - For many visitors, fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year and activities such as hiking, picnicking, fishing and camping are enhanced by a great array of colors that nature brings to the Allamuchy Mountains. When winter conditions are favorable, the visitor can enjoy ice fishing, cross-country skiing, winter hiking and snowshoeing. All Terrain Vehicles (ATV's) are not permitted in the park. Inquire at the Park office for fall and winter conditions.

FACILITES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITES - Facilities at Stephens State Park are partially accessible for people with disabilities. Allamuchy Mountain State Park has very limited access for people with disabilities; however, only the boat launch facilities at Cranberry Lake can accommodate persons with disabilities. Please contact the Park office for further information regarding disability access. Text telephone (TTY/TDD) users, please call the New Jersey Relay service at (800) 852-7899.

The CARRY-IN/CARRY-OUT Program helps to eliminate trash by encouraging park visitors to be good park stewards by placing their trash in bags provided throughout the park and taking it home for proper disposal. Campers should place all trash in appropriate trash and recycling containers.

Alcoholic Beverages are not permitted in the parks. Pets are not permitted in overnight facilities.