Swartswood State Park, a recreational gem, is open year-round. Established in 1914 as New Jersey’s first state park, the original acquisition was a 121/2-acre gift from George M. Emmans. He stipulated that it was to be used as a public park for everyone. Today the original land serves as the Emmans Grove Picnic Area. The park now consists of more than 700 acres of land and 600 acres of water. Swimmers enjoy the crystal clear lake formed by glaciers thousands of years ago, while lifeguards keep watch. The lake is also a sailor’s dream, for it’s perfect for launching sailboats, kayaks, and canoes, while anglers can try to catch bass, sunfish, catfish, walleye, perch, and pickerel.
The moderately rated, white-blazed, 2.8- mile Spring Lake Trail, starting at the end of the Duck Pond Trail, follows natural hilly terrain through a secondary succession forest to secluded Spring Lake. Bear Claw Trail, marked with yellow blazes, is 0.8 mile and starts from the right of the kiosk in the Duck Pond parking area. It’s rated easy to moderate and follows an earthen, hilly path. It ends where it meets the paved Duck Pond Trail, allowing hikers to combine the two trails for a full loop ending at the parking area.
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