Cheesequake State Park’s uniqueness lies in its geographical location. Not only is it situated in the middle of the urban north and the suburban south, it lies in a transitional zone between two different ecosystems. Open fields, saltwater and freshwater marshes, an Atlantic white cedar swamp, pine barrens habitats and a northeastern hardwood forest await you.
Cheesequake State Park might be a small area, but it offers a large variety of amazing recreational activities from camping, swimming and picnicking to kayak tours, hunting and mountain biking. Cheesequake is the only park where the northern hardwood forest meets a southern pine barrens ecosystem at sea level offering birders and hikers a remarkable diversity of native flora and fauna in a healthy, natural environment. Visit and make your own park memories by stopping in the interpretive center, reserving a group picnic site or exploring our nine miles of trails.
A striking example of vegetation change along a gradient from coastal salt marsh habitat to upland forests can be observed from the various trails running through the natural area. The natural area displays a diversity of plant species and community types characteristic of both northern and southern New Jersey.
During the winter months, the roadways and field areas can be utilized for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
There are five designated trails at the park. The Red, Yellow, Green and Blue pathways are for hiking and walking use. The White Trail (multi-use) is designated for hiking and mountain biking. Trail lengths range from 1.5 to 3.5 miles. Trail difficulty ranges from easy to moderate with inclines.
Online reservations can be made at camping.nj.gov. To make a reservation through the call center, please contact Cheesequake State Park office at 732-566-2161.
The park has fifty tent and trailer sites with fire rings and picnic tables. Flush toilets and shower facilities are within walking distance. Trailer sanitary station is available. There is an 11 foot height restriction for vehicles entering the camping area. The campground is open from April 1st through October 31st.
The Gordon Field Group Area has fire rings, upright grills and picnic tables. There are four individual sites accommodating up to 25 campers each. The area facilities include flush toilets and potable water. All trash must be carried out. The group campsites are open from May 1st through October 31st. We highly recommend that group leaders carefully estimate their group size and not over-estimate as refunds cannot be made later. No vehicles, including RVs or trailers, are permitted on the grounds of the group campsites.
Swimming is only permitted during the summer months when lifeguards are on duty. Close to the swimming area there’s a beach complex containing changing area, restrooms, a first-aid station and a concession offering refreshments, novelties and beach supplies. Inner tubes, rafts and other flotation devices are not permitted in the swimming area. Only U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs (personal flotation devices, also known as lifejackets) are permitted.
Hooks Creek provides excellent blue claw crabbing in the summer season. Access to the crabbing bridge is by a short boardwalk located near the swimming area.
The six-acre Hooks Creek Lake offers excellent opportunities for freshwater fishing. Best for fishing during the spring and fall, the lake features a warm water fishery including sunfish, largemouth bass and catfish.
Hunters may apply for a special permit for deer hunting in accordance with the Deer Management Plan.
The Interpretive Center is located a short distance from the trailhead parking area on the Red/Green/Blue trail. Visitors are welcome to view the nature, wildlife and history exhibits, learn about the three habitats located within the park and obtain information about Native Americans and early colonizers of the area.
Several small picnic areas with tables and grills are located throughout the park. For larger groups, there are two reservable picnic areas. The group picnic area at Farry Point can accommodate up to 150 people and provides a shelter and playfields. The group picnic area at Spring Hill can accommodate up to 100 people and provides playfields and playground equipment. Reservations are required for picnics for groups of 20 or more.
Groups of 20 or more people need to reserve picnic facilities at least five days in advance. Such group use is not permitted on Holidays except as authorized by the superintendent. Reservations for picnic areas are handled by the individual park area offices.
Reservations can be made over the telephone using a credit card, or by mail using the Group Picnic Reservation Form. Payment in full of the appropriate group picnicking fee must accompany this application.
A NJ State Park Service Special Use Permit is required for various types of short-duration, organized activities and/or events within a state park, forest and/or historic site. Examples of organized activities and/or special events include, but are not limited to press events, commercial photography and/or filming, corporate events, fundraisers, festivals, demonstrations, walkathons and races, concerts, Televised events and/or commercial use of or on State Park Service lands and/or waters.
To learn more about Special use Permits click here.
Access for Persons with Disabilities
The Cheesequake State Park recreational facilities are partially accessible for persons with disabilities. Please contact the park office at 732-566-2161 for further information regarding disability access needs. Text telephone (TTY) users, call the NJ Relay & CapTel Service at 711 or 1-800-852-7897 for English or 1-866-658-7714 for Spanish.
All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
Recreational use of ATVs is not permitted on NJ State Park Service property. This includes state parks, forests, recreation areas, golf courses, marinas, natural areas, historic sites, and preserves. Thank you for your help in protecting New Jersey’s natural and historic resources. [N.J.A.C. 7:2-3.4(d)]
State law prohibits the smoking of tobacco and use of electronic smoking (vaping) devices in all state parks, forests, historic sites, recreation areas, golf courses and marinas. [N.J.P.L.2005, c.383 (C.26:3D-56)]
Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in state parks, forests, recreation areas, golf courses, marinas, natural areas, historic sites, and preserves. [ N.J.A.C. 7:2-2.6 ]
Keep Your Park Clean and Green
Protect plants and animals and care for your parks by taking your trash with you. Whatever you carry into the park, plan on carrying it out too. It’s like crowdsourcing trash management! Bring a bag or two for trash, recycling and cleaning up after your pet. There are no trash receptacles in this park. Thank you!
Swimming is permitted, while lifeguards are on duty, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. The beach area includes changing rooms, restrooms, showers, a first-aid station and a concession building where food and beach supplies may be purchased. Inner tubes, rafts and other flotation devices are not permitted in the swimming area. Only U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets are allowed.
Pets must always be on a leash no longer than six feet in length and under the control of the owner. Please clean up after your pets.
Use insect repellent, wear light-colored clothing, tuck pants into socks, stay on trails, check yourself when you get home, shower and wash clothes immediately.
Be Bear Aware
Black bears are found throughout New Jersey. Do not approach or attract bears by making food available. Feeding bears is dangerous and illegal. Never run from a bear! To report an aggressive bear, call 1-877-WARN-DEP (1-877-927-6337) immediately. Please report any damage or nuisance behavior to the park office. Visit the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife at www.njfishandwildlife.com for additional information on bear safety.
Nature Center 732-566-3208
300 Gordon Road
Matawan, NJ 07747
Gate Open daily 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Park Office Open daily 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Nature Center Open Friday - Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m..