Lake Hopatcong State Park
Lakeside Boulevard, Morris and Sussex counties, New Jersey
107 acres


This park is located at the lower end of Lake Hopatcong, 9 miles long with over 60 miles of shoreline. Except for the park, it is quite completely built up with hotels and private cottages. It can be reached from US 80.   Shippenport Road to where it bears left near intersection with Mt. Arlington Boulevard. The name of Shippenport Road changes to Lakeside Boulevard. Continue straight to the park on the right.


During the summer a fee is charged to use the park. There is a beach and a bathhouse near the parking area.

The park includes 107 acres of land and a section of the old Morris Canal. The dam and gate house which control the Lake level are in the park, which has been designated as a wildlife sanctuary.


The name Hopatcong comes from Hokunk, "above,"peek, "body of water" atn, "hill" and saconk, "outlet."

1750s -- Lake Hopatcong called Great pond. Garret Rapalje built a dam for his forge at the Lake's outlet (called Brookland or, later Brooklyn). There was a Brooklyn Forge which was located at the head of the Musconetcong Creek at the uppermost falls near the mouth of Lake Hopatcong. 1750 -- the Brookland Forge (on land of the Hopatcong State Park) built. It operated for 30 years. A dam raised the Lake level by 6 feet. The Lake was known as Great Pond or Brookland Pond.

This park contains Morris Canal remains. The Morris Canal ran for 106 miles joining the Delaware River at Phillipsburg with the Hudson River, a mule-drawn barge trip that took about 5 days. Lake Hopatcong was the Morris Canal's largest reservoir (because the canal dam raised the water level to the point that the Lake became the largest in the state).

The Lake was entered through a feeder of the Morris Canal. It then went to the lock at Brooklyn (a little settlement which gave the Lake the name of Brooklyn Pond.) P. 204

In this park, to the left of the beach, is a huge iron waterwheel, from Plane No. 3, which operated chains, later wire cables, pulling up the boats. At the gate control house, the visitor can see the locks under water at the edge of the Lake. Also here are the gatekeeper's and paymaster's house (built about 1826).  West of the pumping station and the turbine, the broad declivity was the basin of the old canal, which from here went to Lake Musconetcong.

1827 -- the canal company, having acquired the property, builds a new dam on the Lake and turns the Lake into a canal reservoir. Here is built a lock that raised boats to the level of the Lake. A bypass valve controlled the water flowing into a feeder canal that connected the Lake to the main canal.

1835 -- the height of the Brooklyn dam is raised four feet.

1830s -- Lake Hopatcong is the largest single source of water for the Morris Canal. A small community known as Brooklyn develops around the canal lock in what is now Hopatcong State Park. A dam raises the Lake water level 6 more feet and the Lake becomes known as Lake Hopatcong and over time the name Brookland changed to Brooklyn after NYC's Brooklyn.

1865 -- the Ogden Mine Railroad was built to carry iron ore from Jefferson Township to Nolan's Point at the north end of Lake Hopatcong, a distance of ten miles. This ore was transferred to canal boats which were towed by a steam tug across the Lake to "Brooklyn" lock. The boats went through the feeder to the main canal and then east or west depending upon the individual bills of lading. The company derived at least 50,000 to 60,000 tons of ore freight a year from this business. In 1880 the tonnage was 108,000 tons. With a boat normally carrying seventy tons, 1,543 boat loads were needed to move this cargo.

1881 -- much of the business was lost when the Central Railroad of New Jersey took over the Ogden Mine Railroad and connected it to the Central's High Bridge Branch in 1881.

1880s -- Morris and Essex Railroad builds a station at Drakesville.

The Central Railroad enjoys success with its service to Nolan's Point.

The Lackawanna Railroad later acquires the Morris and Essex Railroad. Steamboats would wait on the Morris Canal in Landing for the passengers to disembark from the train.

1890s -- the Jersey Central carried 50,000 persons every summer to Nolan's Point when amusement and picnic parks were in existence. The railroad had tracks that followed the shore of Nolan's Point and then swung into Minisink and Morris County Junction.

More than three thousand people came here just to cut ice in days before modern refrigeration. There were ice plants all around the shores of the Lake -- at Nolan's Point, Callahan's, Hurdtown, and Donald Pond. Beck, 216

1900 -- by this time there were over 40 hotels and rooming houses to handle the tourists. The Lake became a popular destination for Vaudeville and Burlesque stars who had time off in the summer when many theaters closed. A section of Northwood became known as the "actor's colony." The actors associated with the area as residents or tourists included Bert Lahr, Joe Cook, Jeanette MacDonald, and Bud Abbott.

1904 -- Hudson Maxim built his main house that came to be known as Maxim Park. Maxim was the inventor of smokeless powder, along with shells and torpedoes. Many famous people came out to visit Maxim. One such visitor was Annie Oakley. Another was the poet Edwin Markham.

1910 -- lock tender at canal lock in what is now Hopatcong State Park was Rube Messinger.

1920s and 30s - the Lackawanna Railroad route is the predominant rail link to Lake Hopatcong.

1924 -- abandonment of the Morris Canal.

1925 -- the current dam is built.

1929 -- a monument in honor of Hudson Maxim erected at Hopatcong State Park.

Beck, Henry Charlton. 1964. Tales and Towns of Northern New Jersey. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Kane, Martin. 1998.  Images of America: Hopatcong: A Century of Memories.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.
Macasek, Joseph J., 1997, "Guide to the Morris Canal in Morris County." Morris County Heritage Commission


playground, volley ball, basketball, picnic tables; beach; canal museum

historical plaque to honor Hudson Maxim


Start the walk at the Brooklyn Dam and lock site by the Lake. Here is a turbine wheel (installed 1926) from Plane 3 East, designed and built in the 1850s. It powered the inclined planes to lift a cradle car, a boat, and a 70-ton load of cargo. Falling water entered the bottom and flowed out through four curved nozzles; this turned the turbine head.

Walk back through the parking lot to the Lake Hopatcong Historical Society which has a collection of photos and memorabilia. (Open Saturday and Sunday afternoon during the spring and fall.)

Walk back out the park entrance way and turn right onto Lakeside Boulevard. (No, see trail description below for a safer and more efficient walk).Walk up to the Musconetcong River. Here is a fountain and steps down to it.

Cross to the other side of Lakeside Boulevard and head southeast to the towpath along the Morris Canal Feeder. It ends near Lakeside Boulevard. This is the summit level that divided the eastern and western divisions of the canal. From here westward the canal descended 760 feet to Phillipsburg on the Delaware River.

Return the way you came, back to the park entrance and the parking area.

(Macasek, Joseph J., 1997, "Guide to the Morris Canal in Morris County." Morris County Heritage Commission)


04/16/2005 (Saturday).    On a beautiful day (but a little cold when the wind blew in off the lake), Rosemary and Carl Cooney, Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I parked near the lake.  We turned right and went down by the lakeside (not the beach).  We returned and then took the white trail, which is a very short semi-circular trail that goes up the picnic-tabled hill over and back down to the parking area. 

We followed the advice of the trail description above, but found it a harder route than the one we discovered.  So I will tell it the way we would do it if we were doing the walk again.

Walk across the parking lot down to the lake dam and the turbine.  Then visit the fountain and the river.  Walk under the underpass tunnel that brings the walker to the other side of Lakeside Boulevard.  Once out of the tunnel, turn left and you will soon find the section of the Morris canal.  The canal is on the left and wetlands and the river are on the right. 

The Morris Canal towpath continues until it meets Lakeside Boulevard down about 250 yards or so (?).  We turned around and went back through the underpass tunnel and back up to the parking lot and the car.  We all enjoyed the park.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

* = plants blooming on date of the field trip, 04/16/2005

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)  *
Acer rubrum (red maple)  *
Amelanchier sp. (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Celtis sp. ?  (hackberry) ?
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Prunus sp. (cherry) planted  * soon
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Thuja occidentalis (arbor-vitae) planted?
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock) Amelanchier sp. (shadbush)
Ulmus americana (American elm) *

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cornus sp. (dogwood)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)  *
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) *
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)  one
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle) *

Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium tricoccum (wild leek)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil)  planted  *
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Phytolacca americana (English plantain)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) *
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) *
Trifolium pratense (red clover)
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) *

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Dryopteris sp. (woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern )