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Formerly known as "Long Pond", Greenwood Lake is a natural reservoir that straddles the New York/New Jersey border. The lake is the largest freshwater body in Orange County, New York. It is owned by the Division of Parks and Forestry, and is used for recreational purposes. Overlooked by the Bearfoot Mountain Ridge, Greenwood Lake offers residents and tourists of both states 1,920 acres of recreation and scenic views.
The Village of Greenwood Lake surrounds the reservoir on the New York side, while on the New Jersey side the lake is located in West Milford. Munsee Indians originally inhabited the area around Greenwood Lake, followed by the first European settlers in the 1700s. The Indians had christened the lake "Quampium", but it was renamed "Long Pond" by the new settlers, and ultimately "Greenwood Lake." In 1837 a dam was built to impound the Wanaque River, increasing both the lake's size and development around the lake. Further development followed the arrival of the Montclair and Greenwood Lake Railroad in 1875. West Milford, NJ became incorporated in 1834, and the Village of Greenwood Lake was incorporated 90 years later, in 1924. The village is within the town of Warwick, NY.
Considered one of the top bass fishing lakes in New Jersey, the waters of Greenwood Lake are abundant with not only largemouth and smallmouth bass, but yellow perch, chain pickerel and catfish. On the south side (New Jersey) of Lake Greenwood, the lake depths can vary greatly due to the remnants of an old dam that was constructed in 1765. The South side is the original side of the lake, with a bottom consisting of mostly silt, while the rest of the lake has a hard bottom of rocks or gravel.
There are two public beaches on the New York side of Greenwood Lake where visitors can enjoy playing volleyball or swimming. Some beach areas have lifeguards. There are also many lakeside marinas and restaurants. In the winter there is some ice-fishing and skating on the lake, though the area is much quieter during the colder months.
The opportunities for activity and leisure in the areas surrounding Greenwood Lake seem endless. Access to the Appalachian Trail is minutes away. Sterling Forest State Park houses the New York/New Jersey state line, and offers 17,953 acres of hiking and recreation. Sterling Forest also hosts the New York Renaissance Faire in late summer. Mt. Peter in Warwick is a popular spot for snow skiing in the winter. Since the lake is approximately a one-hour drive from New York City, residents of Greenwood Lake and West Milford can enjoy being a quick trip away from big city life and entertainment.
A popular spot for a day trip, Greenwood Lake has experienced a lot of shoreline development and has fairly heavy boat traffic. But what it lacks in privacy it makes up for in fun, making it a perfect spot for travelers seeking a getaway that offers both relaxation and entertainment.
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