Pine Barrens Lakes, New Jersey, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New Jersey - Atlantic City Area - Delaware River - Shore -

Also known as:  Pinelands, Lake Atsion, Lake Absegami, Mirror Lake, Big Pine Lake, Little Pine Lake, Country Lake, Presidential Lake

Some of the most-visited lakes in New Jersey are the impoundments within the Pinelands National Reserve. Sprawled across the New Jersey Shore, Delaware River and Greater Atlantic City regions, these lakes, nearly all small and nearly all shallow, were created by early settlers in the area who dammed streams to power sawmills, smelters, paper mills and glass works. The ‘sugar sands’ of the Pine Barrens turned out to be wrong for farming crops the European settlers were accustomed to and, except for a few settlements revolving around lumbering, smelting ‘bog iron’ or glass-making, the Pinelands were left a sparsely-populated and highly-unusual coastal plain. This area was finally recognized for the unique environment it presents, and was protected as the 1.1 million acre Pinelands National Reserve, the first such designation in the United States. The Pine Barrens protect and filter water into aquifers containing 17 trillion gallons of some of the purest water in the United States. In 1983, the Pinelands were designated a US Biosphere Reserve and became an International Biosphere Reserve in 1988.

The Pinelands or Pine Barrens are not totally uninhabited: the designated reserve encompasses land in seven counties and about 50 municipalities. Some of the lakes are within areas of heavy housing development, including one of the largest, Mirror Lake. This 250-acre lake is connected via stream to both Big Pine Lake and Little Pine Lake, each with around 13 acres. All three have boat launch facilities, and canoeing and kayaking are the most popular activities on the chain. The two Pine Lakes allow electric motors while Mirror Lake doesn’t allow motors at all. Nearby, Country Lake and Presidential Lake are also popular residential areas. All are within Browns Ferry Township and near the McGuire AFB /Fort Dix complex.

Other lakes within the Pine Barrens are popular for camping, hiking and rustic vacations: The Pinelands contain three separate state forests: Wharton, Brendan T. Byrne and Bass River State Forest. The reserve is also home to two National Wild & Scenic Rivers,: the Maurice River and the Great Egg Harbor River. The rivers and their many tributaries serve as favored canoeing trails winding through unique areas of pine swamps holding a wealth of native birds and animals. Bald eagles, marsh hawks, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, ospreys, swans, great-horned owls, screech owls, purple martins, bluebirds, goldfinch, hummingbirds, wild turkeys, deer, fox, river otters and beavers are some of the wildlife that can be seen. Two popular campgrounds lie within the state forests which offer lake-based activities.

Bass River State Forest’s 23,563-acres harbor 67-acre Lake Absegami, created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The swimming beach is open for lifeguard-supervised swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The beach area contains restrooms, showers, changing area, a first-aid station and a concession building selling refreshments. The campground offers basic campsites, lean-to shelters and camping cabins with full utilities. A boat launch is provided, but only electric motors are permitted. A boat concession rents rowboats, canoes and kayaks during the summer months. Fishing is permitted, with pickerel, sunfish, and catfish the species usually caught. All boaters must wear approved life jackets. A self-guided trail leads hikers through the white cedar swamp and the oak-pine forest of the the Absegami Natural Area. Also located within the Bass River State Forest is the the West Plains Natural Area which holds what is termed locally as the Pigmy Forest. This globally-rare ecosystem consists of a extremely low-growing pine and oak forest where the canopy is no higher than four feet in some areas and harbors both endangered plants and rare moths.

Another popular lake within the Pine Barrens is Lake Atsion in Wharton State Forest. The 62-acre lake also has a swimming beach protected by lifeguard during the summer months. Facilities are similar to those offered at Lake Absegami. Camping facilities are provided, and the Batona Trail passes near the lake. There are no boat launch facilities, but boats can be launched from the shore; only electric motors are allowed. The Mullica River is a favorite for canoeing and kayaking. A number of historic cultural artifacts are located within Wharton State Forest, including the preserved Batsto Village. Here, the 33 structures remaining from this iron-smelting and glass-making industrial village were built between 1766 and 1867. The buildings include the Batsto Mansion, sawmill, gristmill, general store, post office. and workers’ homes. A self-guided tour is available by cell phone. Other historic village tours within Wharton are the Harrisville Village and Atsion Mansion near the lake of the same name. Several rustic campsites exist within the Wharton State Forest, often overlooking small ponds. The 50-mile Batona Trail connects all three of the state forests.

The lakes listed are by no means an exhaustive list. Most lakes are very small, often less than 10 acres and average about three feet deep. Because the unique chemistry of the waters is quite acidic, only a few types of native fish are found in the most pristine lakes and ponds; the acidic waters prevent the eggs of other species from developing. A number of other parks in the Pinelands, owned by various counties and the state, offer hiking trails, creeks for kayaking and the opportunity to view the ruins of former villages and factories. As the Pine Barrens extend clear to the Atlantic coastline, some parks in the Pinelands Reserve are actually oceanfront and offer both salt water swimming and ocean fishing. Along the Atlantic coast, two popular tourist stops are Barnegat Lighthouse State Park and Island Reach State Park on a barrier island. Cranberry bogs and blueberry fields are still active in the area and often welcome visitors.

Because the Pinelands Nature Reserve is a patchwork interspersed with private lands, there are a number of lodging options available to the visitor. Many of the local residents depend on tourism for their livelihood, and there are a number of bed-and-breakfasts, guest cottages and small inns in the area. The many unpaved country roads are excellent for mountain biking, and it isn’t unusual to come upon a small country store with cafe and tales of the Jersey Devil to entertain visitors and young children. Real estate is available for those who fall in love with the wild and unspoiled pine swamps. Those who desire a waterfront view can often find available homes for sale along the residential lakes. All too soon, visitors long to become a ‘Piney’ as the locals call themselves.

*There are few statistics for most lakes in the Pine Barrens. All statistics listed are for Lake Atsion.

Things to do at Pine Barrens Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Pine Barrens Lakes

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Sunfish

Pine Barrens Lakes Photo Gallery

Pine Barrens Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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