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Posted Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Federal Designation of the Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail Will Expand Tourism & Outdoor Recreational Opportunities Along the River

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt designated the Musconetcong River and the Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail to the National Trails System earlier this month.

“We thank Secretary Bernhardt for recognizing the beauty and recreational opportunities in the Musconetcong Watershed. We hope the National Water trail designation encourages people to enjoy, be inspired by, and ultimately engage with us in protecting our region’s rustic and rural character. The National Water Trail designation will help raise awareness of tourism opportunities that support regional economic development goals of our county partners,” said Alan Hunt, Director of Policy at Musconetcong Watershed Association.

Photo of Kayakers on the Musconetcong River

Kayakers at the Hampton to Bloomsbury section of the Musconetcong River (photo by John Brunner, MWA Former Executive Director)

The Musconetcong River, which is also a National Wild & Scenic River, flows for 42 miles from Lake Hopatcong to the Delaware River. Surrounded by rugged Highland ridges, the river flows by state and county parks, historic hamlets, nature preserves, and one of the region’s most scenic agricultural valleys. The federal designation of the river watershed to the National Trails System comes from the National Trails Act of 1968, which calls for establishing trails in both rural and urban areas.

“This rare designation was the result enormous efforts from all levels of government, federal, state, county to local municipalities,” said Steven Rattner, Morris County Planning Board. “All of this would have not been possible without the labor and financial support of numerous not for profits, sportsmen groups, environmental groups and foundations. When partnerships like this gel, everything is possible and the public benefits.”

Joining this network of trails helps promote the preservation and public access of our outdoor spaces. Look for signs along the river and nearby watershed areas denoting this new status. The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA), along with partners from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF), Warren County, and Mohawk Canoe Club have been working together to create a National Water Trails brochure and online interactive story map to help locate the over 50 public access points.

“We are pleased to have collaborated with the Musconetcong Watershed Association and the other partners on this water trails project and look forward to future cooperative efforts,” said Cliff Lundin, Lake Hopatcong Foundation recreational trails committee chair. “This prestigious national designation recognizes Lake Hopatcong as a primary recreational waterways, not only with the Musconetcong Watershed, but within the nation.”

Through partnership, MWA and LHF are a shared managing agency of the Musconetcong National Water Trail. As our headwaters, Lake Hopatcong has significant public access points for recreation in and around the lake.

The Musconetcong National Watershed Trail provides information

Hikers on Point Mountain

Hiking Point Mountain Reserve in Hunterdon County (photo courtesy of MWA)

on 11 water trail trips, which can be combined into longer trips. This includes four trips on Lake Hopatcong, one trip on Lake Musconetcong, and six trips on the Musconetcong River, including the possibility for overnight camping at Stephens State Park. Joining this network of trails helps promote the preservation and public access of our outdoor spaces. Before next summer, look for signs along the river indicating access points for the Water Trail.

The National Trails System encourages those of all ages, interests, skills, and physical abilities to explore and appreciate this system of national scenic, historic, and recreation trails.

MWA Mission: The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the Musconetcong River and its Watershed, including its natural and cultural resources. To view the Musconetcong National Water Trail map online, visit www.musconetcong.org.

LHF Mission: The Lake Hopatcong Foundation dedicates itself to protecting the lake environment and enhancing the lake experience, bringing together public and private resources to encourage a culture of sustainability and stewardship on and around New Jersey’s largest lake, for this and future generations.