Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New Jersey - Skylands -

Lake Hopatcong is the largest lake in New Jersey, at about nine miles long with 45 miles of shoreline and covering 2,560 acres. Only 45 miles from New York City, the lake runs between the borders of Sussex and Morris Counties tucked in the mountains in the northern part of New Jersey. Lake Hopatcong provides year-round recreational opportunities. Since the 1880s, the lake has been a popular tourist destination, providing summer breezes and cool water for nearby city dwellers. Today, the shores of the lake still speak to that era, with many residences, restaurants, marinas, pubs and shops peppered along its shoreline.

Fishing is popular all year long, and Lake Hopatcong is considered one of the best freshwater fishing locales on the East Coast. The lake has the largest variety of fish species of any waterway in New Jersey, besides the Delaware River. Lake Hopatcong has both largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish, rock bass, pickerel, catfish, crappie, bullhead, carp, and yellow and white perch. Eels have also been caught. Brown, rainbow and brook trout are stocked each year, but they do not usually live through the summers because the lake does not provide the cold, deep, oxygenated pockets they need to survive the heat. Hybrid striped bass, walleye, and muskellunge have all been stocked successfully and are now thriving. Fishing enthusiasts should be aware of the unique underwater geography of Lake Hopatcong. Hundreds of barges crossed the lake in the days of the Morris Canal, and dropped ballast at regular spots. Today, these spots are popular hangouts for hybrid striped bass, as the lake’s bottom suddenly rises from 40 to 20 feet under the water.

Lake Hopatcong is also excellent for any kind of boating, from canoes exploring quiet coves to large motor boats, sailboats, sailboards, and jet skis criss-crossing its waters. Boats are available for rent at many private marinas around the lake. Lake Hopatcong is the only lake in New Jersey (besides Greenwood Lake on the New York border) with bars and restaurants accessible directly by boat.

A public boat ramp is available at Hopatcong State Park, and boating is open seven days a week depending on parking availability. There is a $10 daily launch fee, or an annual pass can be purchased for $55. Lee’s County Park Marina, maintained by the Morris County Park System, also provides public access, with 110 boat slips, nine moorings and three boat launch ramps. Many restaurants, bait shops, and other businesses are accessible by boat from the lake.

Summer brings swimming, grilling, and sand volleyball to Lake Hopatcong. Hopatcong State Park borders the lake on the southwest end. With 159 acres, the park is one of the busiest in the state’s system, hosting nearly 200,000 visitors each summer. Park amenities include a beach, two playgrounds, six half-basketball courts, a large playing field, and several picnic areas. A bathhouse with restrooms, showers, and other amenities is available, as well as a first aid area and concessions. The Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum is also located nearby, which provides exhibits about the history of the area. Lake Hopatcong bursts with activity during the winter, too. Popular winter activities include ice fishing, snowmobiling, ice skating, ice boating, sledding and ice sailing.

Hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and campers won’t want to miss the 3,200 acres of wilderness and 20 miles of multi-use trails available at nearby Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, which is the largest park in the Morris County Park System. Golfers may enjoy visiting the Berkshire Valley Golf Course, a local public course. The Berkshire Valley Wildlife Management Area also provides 1829 acres with fishing and hunting opportunities near the lake.

Lake Hopatcong is part of Hopatcong State Park, which is administered by the Division of Parks and Forestry, part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The Division controls Lake Hopatcong’s water levels with a dam and gate-type locks, releasing about four million gallons of outflow daily. Lake Hopatcong discharges into the Musconetcong River, a tributary of the Delaware River. A downstream lake, Lake Musconetcong, relies on Lake Hopatcong’s discharge. Lake Hopatcong is also an emergency source of drinking water for the State of New Jersey.

Lake Hopatcong is spring-fed with no major tributaries, and was formed by glaciers in prehistoric times. The Division of Parks and Forestry lowers water levels 26 inches in November for flood control purposes, and keeps that level during the winter in anticipation of melting ice and rain in the spring. Every five years the Division lowers water levels 60 inches for lake and dock maintenance. In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the Lake Hopatcong Commission a federal grant to improve the lake’s water quality and prevent phosphorus from entering the lake.

The origins of the unusual name, Hopatcong, are disputed. Some say that the name derives from the Native American Lenni Lenape word “huppakong,” meaning “honey waters of many coves.” It may also be a derivative of another Lenape word, “hapakonoesson,” meaning “pipe stone.” Lake Hopatcong is comprised of two natural lakes, originally known as Great Pond to the south and Little Pond to the north. In 1750, a dam was built on the Musconetcong River to provide power for a local iron forge, which raised the water level about six feet and joined the two lakes into one. Another dam was built in 1827 by the Morris Canal and Banking Company, raising the water level by another 11 feet. This created the lake we know today. The Morris Canal was created to transport coal, iron and zinc across the state. The lake was acquired by the state in 1922. The canal was officially abandoned in 1924, as faster railroads took over.

Lake Hopatcong is one of the most beautiful lakes in New Jersey, offering every kind of activity imaginable. From the wild outdoors to big-city access, campfire cooking to wonderful restaurants, Lake Hopatcong has something for everyone.

Things to do at Lake Hopatcong

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Hopatcong

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Eel
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Perch

Lake Hopatcong Photo Gallery

Lake Hopatcong Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: New Jersey Division of Parks & Forestry

Surface Area: 2,560 acres

Shoreline Length: 45 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 924 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 915 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 926 feet

Average Depth: 18 feet

Maximum Depth: 58 feet

Water Volume: 48,209 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 623 days

Lake Area-Population: 15,900

Drainage Area: 25 sq. miles

Trophic State: Meso-eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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