No, most beaches in NJ are not free

In time for Memorial Day weekend, Governor Phil Murphy announced that all state parks will be free this summer.

Some optimistic Shore visitors wondered if that meant that for at least one summer, all New Jersey beaches would also be free to use.

Not the case.

There are only seven state parks along the Jersey Shore.

The only Ocean Beach state park that allows swimming is Island beach state park, next to Seaside Park in Ocean County. Swimming is only permitted there when lifeguards are on duty, which is daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting June 18.

Island Beach is one of seven state parks along the Jersey Shore.

The other beaches remain under municipal jurisdiction.

Two of the seven are more historical in nature — Fort Mott State Park along the Delaware River and Liberty State Park along the Hudson River (next to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island).

For the seven pitches, no pets are allowed on the beach from April to September 15.

Which NJ Beaches Are Free in 2022 (Barnegat Lighthouse State Park NJDEP)

(Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, NJDEP)

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is available for fishing, hiking, bird watching and picnicking. However, for the summer of 2022, the lighthouse remains closed for a restoration project, which is expected to last until October. The park office, interpretive center, Fisherman’s Trail and trails also remain open.

Which NJ beaches are free in 2022 (Cape May Point State Park NJDEP) 2

(Cape May Point State Park, NJDEP)

Cape May Point State Park offers free beach walks, hiking, bird watching, and fishing. Nature programs are available. The lighthouse and fire control tower are open seasonally, operated by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities.

Which NJ Beaches Are Free in 2022 (Corson’s Inlet State Park NJDEP)

(Corson’s Inlet NJDEP State Park)

Corson’s Inlet State Park in Ocean City also remains free under the state’s summer plan — but there’s no swimming allowed. The park is a popular spot for hiking, fishing, crabbing, boating, and sunbathing.

Which NJ Beaches Are Free in 2022 (North Brigantine Natural Area, NJDEP)

Which NJ Beaches Are Free in 2022 (North Brigantine Natural Area, NJDEP)

The North Brigantine Natural Area includes a natural beach with open shell areas – and is part of the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island beach on the entire state coast (along with adjacent federal sites, Holgate and Little Beach). The pedestrian access by the sea remains open all year round, but swimming is not permitted.

Sandy Hook is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. There, access to the beach itself is free but there are parking fees during high season.

There are nine state parks offering lake swimming for the 2022 season when lifeguards are on duty, as follows:

Atsion recreation area (Wharton State Forest)
Open Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)

Belleplain State Forest
Opening scheduled for June 25

Cheesequake State Park
Open Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)

High Point State Park
Open Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)

Hopatcong State Park
Open Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)

Parvin State Park
Open Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)

Round Valley Recreation Area
Opening scheduled for June 25

Swartswood State Park
Opening scheduled for July 9

Wawayanda State Park
Open Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)

On lakeside beaches, lifeguards are usually on duty Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the summer season.

For the 2022 season, swimming is closed in both Bass River State Forest and Spruce Run Recreation Area.

Which NJ beaches are free in 2022 (ISland Beach State Park NJDEP)

Which NJ beaches are free in 2022 (Island Beach State Park NJDEP)

Other Free Beaches in New Jersey

Wildwoods Beaches – which stretch five miles from North Wildwood and Wildwood to Wildwood Crest – are completely free each summer.

Access to Atlantic City’s beach, along the world’s longest boardwalk, also remained free year-round.

In Cape May County — Upper Canton offers free access to the beach. Parking is available at Beesley’s Point and free street parking is available at Strathmere.

For a complete rundown of 2022 free municipal beaches in New Jersey, click here.

NJ Beach Tag Guide for Summer 2022

We are coming another summer to the Jersey Shore! Before you lose yourself in the excitement of sunny days on the sand, we calculate how much seasonal/weekly/daily beach beacons will cost you, and pre-season deals you can still take advantage of!

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From the rides to all the boardwalk food to the many water fun, Seaside Heights and nearby Seaside Park has remained a family friendly place for all ages.

Along the way, the Seaside Heights Boardwalk and Casino Pier were hit by tragic disasters, such as a fire, Super Hurricane Sandy, and another fire. Both have proven their resilience through reconstruction and expansion.

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn’t have to be just the beach. Our state has incredible trails, waterfalls and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to New Jersey’s hidden gems, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it’s a great workout.

Before you hit the trails and explore some of the suggestions from our listeners, I have a few tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you descend and meet an uphill hiker, pull to the side and give the uphill hiker some space. An uphill hiker has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless marked as an official trail, avoid them. Going off the trail, you risk damaging the ecosystems around the trail, the plants and wildlife that live there.

You also don’t want to disturb any wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from wildlife and continue hiking.

Cyclists must yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also give in to horses, but I don’t know how many horses you’ll encounter on New Jersey trails.

If you plan to bring your dog on your hike, they must be on a leash and be sure to clean up all pet waste.

Finally, pay attention to the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it’s probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions on the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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