Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail
The Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail promotes recreational access in the Musconetcong watershed, including National Wild and Scenic River segments and Lake Hopatcong. Ten trip segments provide access for recreation in natural, historic, and agricultural landscapes. Best for kayaks and canoes, conditions range from flat water to advanced white water, in segments 4-12 miles long, or longer when combined; overnight camping allowed at Stephens State Park only. Located in Northwestern New Jersey, the Musconetcong watershed provides a much-needed opportunity for recreating in natural, historic, and agricultural landscapes in a metropolitan area where 20 million people live. The watershed is popular for boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, scenery, and outdoor photography – all characteristics which contributed to the Musconetcong River’s designation as a National Wild and Scenic River in 2006. The Water Trail route utilizes established public access points that accommodate a diversity of trip lengths and levels of difficulty. The 10 trip segments provide access to a variety of opportunities for recreation and education, ranging from flat water to segments requiring advanced paddling skills. The trip segments range from four to 12 miles or longer as several river segments are contiguous.
Loop Trail? No
Type: National Water Trails System
Entry Fee? No
All access points no fees except at Lee's County Park and Marina and Lake Hopatcong State Park.
Parking Fee? No Allowed Uses:
Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
Heritage and History
Location: Information kept at Musconetcong Watershed Association River Resource Center, 10 Maple Avenue, Asbury, NJ 08802
State(s): New Jersey
Counties: Sussex, Morris, Hunterdon, Warren
From 78 E, take Exit 6 toward Warren Glen/Asbury. Turn left onto Bloomsbury Road. Turn Right onto Old Main Street. River Resource Center is on the left-hand side at intersection of Old Main Street at Maple Avenue.
From 78 W, take Exit 11 to merge onto NJ-173 W toward Pattenberg/W. Portal Road. At traffic circle, take first exit to stay on NJ-173 W. Turn right onto Brunswick Pike. Turn right onto Asbury West Portal Road. Turn left to stay on Asbury West Portal Road. Continue on Main Street. River Resource Center is at intersection of Old Main Street and Maple Avenue.
Located in Northwestern New Jersey, the Musconetcong watershed provides a much needed opportunity for recreating in natural, historic, and agricultural landscapes in a metropolitan area where 20 million people live. The watershed is popular for boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, scenery, and outdoor photography – all characteristics which contributed to the Musconetcong River’s designation as a National Wild and Scenic River in 2006. The Musconetcong River begins at Lake Hopatcong (New Jersey's largest lake) and runs 42 miles down to the Delaware River. Surrounded by rugged Highland ridges, the river flows by state and county parks, historic hamlets, nature preserves, and one of the region's most scenic agricultural valleys.
The Water Trail route utilizes established public access points that accommodate a diversity of trip lengths and levels of difficulty. The 10 trip segments provide access to a variety of opportunities for recreation and education, ranging from flat water to segments requiring advanced paddling skills. The trip segments range from four to 12 miles or longer as several river segments are contiguous and overnight camping is allowed only at Stephens State Park. There are many public access points along the Musconetcong, so it is possible to plan a variety of shorter or longer river trips.
Much of Northwestern New Jersey’s history is visible from its waterfronts. Waterways have been critical to the region’s inhabitants for food, transportation, and power. Human habitation along the Musconetcong River began over 10,000 years ago when Paleo-Indians camped along the river’s glacial waters. The Lenape Indians planted corn in the rich limestone river valley, and no doubt canoed down the river they named Musconetcong, or rapid running stream. The European settlers displaced the Lenape during the early eighteenth century and built their mills and villages along the river. By the early nineteenth century the Musconetcong valley was one of New Jersey’s most important iron producing and agricultural regions, supplying both the New York and Philadelphia markets. The Musconetcong river flows through seven Historic Districts and under numerous metal truss and stone arch bridges listed on the National Historic Register.
Historically, transportation over the Highlands was poor. The Morris Canal, now a National Landmark, overcame these obstacles with inclined planes and a series of locks, some of which parallel the river and Lake Hopatcong and at Waterloo Village. Later, railroads connected the region’s agriculture and industry to major shipping ports. The railroads also enticed city residents for visits to the country, to Bertrand Island’s amusement park in Lake Hopatcong and for peach picking in the Musconetcong Valley. Along the river are several former grist mills, remnant dams, and stone railroad bridge piers that remind us of this past, as these waterways are restored for wildlife habitat and opened for recreational use and sightseeing.
The Water Trail is maintained by the Musconetcong Watershed Association, in partnership with Lake Hopatcong Foundation, and the Musconetcong River Management Council. The Musconetcong Watershed is the focus of several education and water quality improvements programs. Notably, several obsolete dams have been removed on the Musconetcong River, and have opened 6 miles of free flowing river to the Delaware River and allowed migratory fish, like American Shad, to return. Visit www.musconetcong.org to learn more about the Water Trail, education opportunities, organized trips, and river restoration. Learn more about Lake Hopatcong at www.lakehopatcongfoundation.org and other regional tourism opportunities at Scenic, Wild Delaware River: www.delawareriver.natgeotourism.com.
Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: Rock, boulders
Snow or ice
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2020
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsBrochure: Photo of the Headwater Sensor sign at Riverside Park in Byram Township
Brochure: Municipal Resident Stormwater Brochure for tax mailings
Map: Park Maps for Allamuchy and Stephens State Park
Map: Lake Hopatcong Guide Map
Map: MWA Waterway Guide of the Lower Musconetcong River
Map: MWA Waterway Guide of the Upper Musconetcong River
Map: Map of the Wild & Scenic River segments in the Musconetcong River
Other: Musconetcong Watershed Access Points and Photos
Other: Flyer for a talk on the Asbury Mill Restoration
Other: Detailed MWA Watershed Education Program Lesson Plan
Other: One Page overview of the MWA Watershed Education Program
Other: Flyer for Camp Musky summer program
Other: Flyer for one of MWA's River Talk events on apples
Other: Action Plan for restoration work through a grant MWA was awarded by the William Penn Foundation for the Delaware River Watershed Initiative
Other: Press Release from when Former Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell came to speak at the notching of the Hughesville Dam
Other: 2018 Fishery Survey Musconetcong River Protocols
Other: Requirements for maintaining MWA's River Resource Center
Other: Musconetcong River Management Plan for the Partnership Wild & Scenic Designation
Other: Wild & Scenic Rivers Final Study Report
Other: Text only document for the Musconetcong Waterway Guide Map. This outlines all of the access points within the watershed.
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Musconetcong Watershed Association
P.O. Box 113
Asbury, NJ 08802
Lake Hopatcong Foundation
37 Nolan’s Point Park Road
Lake Hopatcong, NJ 07849
Musconetcong River Management Council
P.O. Box 113
Asbury, NJ 08802
Spectacular scenes with a wonderful variety of lakes and waterways to navigate along 42 miles. I'm partial to the Lake Musconetcong section in Stanhope, which once accommodated the historic Morris Canal. This is the New Jersey that not enough people see, know about, or fully appreciate.
November 4, 2020
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Trail Managers: please use the official NRT update form to update your trail for any of the following changes:
- Change in trail mileage through trail extension
- Change in trail mileage through trail retraction
- Change in trail mileage through significant trail reroute
- Change to trail name
- Change in trail description or use
- Undesignation of trail (removal of NRT designation status)
- Other significant updates
>> Download the official NRT update form.
All other edits can be submitted via the below form: