Occupying more than 1,600 acres, Cheesequake State Park showcases a unique ecosystem of saltwater marshes, white cedar swamps, lush pine forests, and grassy fields. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the park, whether you're hiking scenic trails, kayaking on the lake, casting a line for trout, or soaking up the sunshine on the sandy beach. The park also recalls the rich culture and heritage of New Jersey's Native Americans.
At just one hour from New York and 90 minutes from Philadelphia, Cheesequake is deservedly popular with city slickers craving a nature fix. A short detour off the Garden State Parkway, Cheesequake is also a popular stop on long-distance road trips. Planning a getaway to the Mid-Atlantic? Whether you're looking for a compact camper or a big rig, you'll find a huge selection of RV rentals in Middlesex County, New Jersey.
Summer is peak season at Cheesequake State Park, with locals and visitors alike flocking to cool off in Hooks Creek Lake. The sandy beach is patrolled by lifeguards from Memorial Day to Labor Day and is immensely popular with families. Bring your own picnic or stock up on supplies at the concession stand. If you own a canoe or kayak, you're welcome to launch it on the lake. More adventurous paddlers can explore the well-marked Cheesequake Water Trail, which takes you through tall saltmarsh grasses and lush wetlands. If you're not confident navigating, you can also join kayaking eco tours led by park rangers.
Well stocked with trout, largemouth bass, and catfish, Hooks Creek Lake is a hot spot for freshwater anglers. You can also try your luck from the Crabbing Bridge – keep an eye out for diamondback terrapins basking on the rocks. Birders will be in their element with more than 160 species to spot, including marsh wren and bald eagles.
Want to venture deeper into the park? Cheesequake is laced with five well-marked hiking trails that take you through marshlands, cedar groves, and flower-filled meadows. Most are reserved for hikers, though the White Trail also welcomes mountain bikers. Learn more about Cheesequake's unique ecosystem at the Interpretive Center, which features exhibits on local wildlife, ecological zones, and the park's Native American heritage.
Camping at Cheesequake State Park
With a picturesque forest setting and easy access to the lake, Cheesequake State Park campground is a fantastic place to enjoy the natural beauty of New Jersey. Choose from more than 50 sites, some shaded by trees and others set on grassy meadows. All sites feature picnic tables fire rings – perfect for enjoying an evening fish fry or marshmallow roasting session.
There are no water, electric, or sewer hookups, which makes Cheesequake a great option if you're in search of an off-the-grid motorhome camping experience. That said, the campground still offers creature comforts like restrooms and shower facilities. There's also a dump station for serviced RVs open from April to October, as well as a potable water station. A handful of sites are pet-friendly; just be sure to keep your dog leashed. Because of a low bridge, rental RVs must be no higher than 11 feet when camping at Cheesequake State Park.
Exploring the Area
New Jersey may be one of the smallest states in the country, but it doesn't scrimp on parks. A 30-minute drive northwest, Washington Rock State Park commands sweeping views over the Garden State and was once used as a vantage point by General George Washington during the American Revolution. Today, it's a fantastic place to soak in the views and enjoy a picnic.
For a change of scene, spend the day ticking off local attractions like the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park. The 36-acre grounds are anchored by a beautiful Art Deco tower that marks the site of the workshop where Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. In nearby New Brunswick, Rutgers Gardens is a fantastic place to stretch your legs. Admire the flower gardens, stroll through the woodlands, and stock up on local produce and handmade gifts at the Friday farmers' market. Families make a beeline for nearby Keansburg Amusement Park and Runaway Rapids, which features stomach-churning roller coasters, water slides, and plenty of kid-friendly rides.
At just 36 miles from Downtown Manhattan, Cheesequake State Park offers a unique chance to camp in an RV near New York City. Trenton, the New Jersey state capital, is also a popular base for picking up RV rentals near Cheesequake State Park. While you're in town, why not check out attractions like the New Jersey State Museum? If gas, groceries, and other basic supplies are all you need head to nearby communities like Laurence Harbor and Cliffwood Beach.