Discover the Deepest Lake in New Jersey

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: July 30, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Merrill Creek Reservoir is the deepest lake in New Jersey, with a maximum depth of 225 feet and a 15 billion gallon capacity.
  • The reservoir’s main purpose is to supply water that can be stored and released into the Delaware River to compensate for evaporative water use at electric generating units.
  • The lake is surrounded by 290 acres of protected woodland and farmland. It is one of two lakes in New Jersey that stocks lake trout all year round.

New Jersey is known as the Garden State because of its rich agricultural history, with farms supplying an abundance of fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, tomatoes, and cranberries. It benefits from a wealth of immaculate beaches due to its location along the Atlantic Ocean. And it has a sizable number of freshwater inland lakes that offer the chance to engage in activities including swimming, fishing, boating, and even ice skating in the winter.

While New Jersey might not initially come to mind when considering great states for lake vacations, it offers many possibilities that are waiting to be explored. More than 400 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs are accessible to the general public in New Jersey. These waters provide a wide variety of fishing options, from thriving panfish populations to trophy-sized game fish. But of all these lakes in the Garden State, which of them is the deepest? Below, we will uncover the deepest lake in New Jersey and other fascinating facts.

Infographic of Merrill Creek Reservoir
On Merrill Creek Reservoir’s six nature trails, hikers have the chance to spot bears, deer, foxes, and bald eagles.

What Is the Deepest Lake in New Jersey?

Merrill Creek Reservoir New Jersey

The deepest lake in New Jersey is Merrill Creek Reservoir.


Boasting a maximum depth of 225 feet, Merrill Creek Reservoir is the deepest lake in New Jersey. It is a 650-acre man-made lake with a 15 billion gallon capacity surrounded by 290 acres of designated protected woodland and farmland. This 290-acre land is an environmental preserve, extended to an additional 2,000 acres of woodlands and fields. The reservoir and the environmental preserve can be found in Harmony Township, in the heart of Warren County.

Despite being artificial, the lake is the deepest in New Jersey, enabling it to sustain a healthy lake trout population all year. Visitors to the reservoir may only fish from rowboats, electric motorboats, or the shore. The lake is stocked with bass, and there are several nooks and inlets to explore by canoe or kayak. On six different nature trails around the lake, hikers also have the chance to witness various animals, such as bears, deer, foxes, and bald eagles.

A three-mile tunnel connects Merrill Creek to the Delaware River. Under the direction of the Delaware River Basin Commission, a group of seven electric utilities constructed the earthen Merrill Creek Dam in 1988. 

Where Is the Merrill Creek Reservoir Located on the Map?

The Merill Creek Reservoir is located to the northeast of Lopatcong and to the northwest of Hampton. It is also located to the east of Harmony and southeast of Hutchinson.

Driving north from Philadelphia, it is about an hour and a half drive, and it is a similar drive west from Yonkers, New York.

What Is the Merrill Creek Reservoir Used For?

Merrill Creek Reservoir’s prime purpose is to supply water that can be stored and released into the Delaware River to compensate for the evaporative water use at certain electric generating units during periods of low river flow. In addition to serving that fundamental function, Merrill Creek Reservoir offers a serene landscape of land and water that encourages interaction with the surrounding ecosystem.

Merrill Creek Reservoir essentially restores the river water that evaporates while cooling 14 power facilities. The reservoir also collects water from the Delaware River in the spring, when the river’s flow is often copious and replenishes it in the summer when it is typically low and there is a strong demand for energy for air conditioning. Seawater infiltration into the drinking water of many South Jersey cities, including Camden, is also reduced by maintaining a healthy Delaware River flow.

Launch facilities are available for recreational boating in the reservoir. However, gasoline motors are not permitted. Visitors can participate in outdoor activities at the reservoir and the adjacent countryside.

What Animals Can be Found in the Merrill Creek Reservoir?

The reservoir is filled with abundant wildlife beneath its waters and around its 290-acre land. The lake is surrounded by various migratory birds, kingfishers, heron, woodpeckers, bald eagles, ravens, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, muskrat, and other natural animals. The reservoir’s fishing opportunities to catch brown trout is one of its main draws. Walleye, small and largemouth bass, yellow perch, chain pickerel, catfish, crappie, sunfish, carp, rainbow trout, brook trout, and lake trout are among the other fish caught in the reservoir.

Merrill Creek Reservoir is one of the two lakes in New Jersey that stocks lake trout. The other lake, located in Hunterdon County, is Round Valley Reservoir. Because of its depth, the lake supports lake trout all year round. Atlantic salmon from a landlocked region have also been stocked in the lake since 2018.

What Is Merrill Creek Reservoir Known For?

The reservoir has gained popularity as a vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts since it first opened in May 1989. Two thousand acres of forests and fields offer hiking and nature study opportunities, while the lake’s more than five miles of shoreline is ideal for boating and fishing. Only licensed boaters with conventional boats and canoes at least 12 feet long and equipped with electric motors can utilize Merrill Creek Reservoir during the day. Although swimming and camping are prohibited, the lake offers excellent fishing with a large trout population — many of which have already reached the 24-inch maximum size allowed by law.

What Is the Biggest Lake in New Jersey?

Lake Hopatcong

Lake Hopatcong is the biggest lake in New Jersey.


The largest freshwater lake in the Garden State is Lake Hopatcong, which has a surface area of 2,500 acres. Swimmers, fishermen, and water skiers spend hours frolicking at this sparkling wonder. Just 40 minutes away from the top attractions in New York City, the lake is surrounded by 45 miles of beautifully maintained beaches in the heart of Hopatcong State Park. This popular vacation destination has miles of public beaches, delectable dining options, and marinas, making it a great place to unwind.

What Is the Clearest Lake in New Jersey?

Atsion Lake

The clearest lake in New Jersey is Atsion Lake.

©Andrew F. Kazmierski/

Atsion Lake may be the clearest and most picturesque lake in the entire state, so it’s not surprising that some fortunate people have chosen to build their homes there. Atsion Lake is a 100-acre body of water with plenty of space for swimming, boating, kayaking, and sunbathing on the sand. It also has grassy picnic sites. Since it is mostly undeveloped, its waters are usually clear and clean.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Marjorie Hess/

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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