Parvin State Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:701 Almond Road, Pittsgrove, NJ
Hours:Sunrise to sunset daily; park office open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Fee: $2 per person (age 4 and older), Memorial Day through Labor Day; otherwise, free
Bathrooms: At the visitor center (when open)
Water/Snacks: Water fountain at the visitor center (when open); snacks at the beach area in season

A lake with a sandy beach invites boating and swimming, and you can hike in the surrounding woods.

Parvin State Park
Photo by: Mike Sheridan

Parvin State Park’s lakes in the woods have been a recreational destination for generations. Today, along with boating, swimming, and fishing in the waters, visitors enjoy hiking a network of easy trails in the woods. Because of its location on the edge of the Pine Barrens, Parvin straddles two kinds of forests—evergreen and deciduous—which gives it a distinctively diverse character.

Parvin was a base for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The CCC built many beautiful reclaimed-brick structures that still grace the 1,100-acre park. The largest of these is the first building you see, the park office and bathhouse, which is in Parvin Grove, on the shores of Parvin Lake. Swimming is permitted at this location from Memorial Day through Labor Day; it is lifeguard-staffed. 

Although the swimming area can be busy in season, paddling and fishing on the forested north side is serene. Parvin is the larger of the two park lakes; Thundergust Lake is narrow, and more interesting for angling than paddling. A canoe rental is located in Parvin Grove, and a boat launch is at Fisherman’s Landing. Picnic areas are at Parvin Grove and Thundergust Lake, all with great views of the lakes.

A network of trails, easily reached from either of the picnic areas, traverses

the woods and lakeshores. Along the way you’ll explore not only hardwood forests but cedar swamps and pine woods typical of the Pine Barrens. A number of unusual plants and animals are found here, including the barred owl.

Some trails are pedestrian-only; others are shared with bikes and equestrians (check the trail map for details). Relatively level or gently sloped, the trails are suitable for all ages, and can be made into long or short trips. The trails are well marked, though they do crisscross. A good introductory loop trail for all ages is the 3-mile Parvin Lake Trail starting at the park office; it goes around the lake through the woods, crossing streams and wet areas via walkways. 

The paved loop trail around the park is especially good for family bike rides; the unpaved (dirt) trails open to bikes are level, and suitable for young or novice mountain bikers.

A campground with tent and trailer campsites (some pet-friendly), as well as cabins, is at Jaggers Point on Parvin Lake.

Remember: Pets are prohibited on the Parvin Lake beach and must be leashed in the campground. Pets are permitted on the trails as long as you clean up after them.

Plan B:

Glades Wildlife Refuge has trails in a similar environment.

Where to Eat Nearby:

It’s best to bring a picnic.


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