In time for Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that all state parks would have free admission this summer.

Some hopeful Shore visitors have 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 New Jersey coastline.

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 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as of June 18.

Island Beach is among seven state parks along the New Jersey coastline.

Other beaches remain under municipal jurisdiction.


Two of the seven are more historic 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 all seven locations, no pets are permitted on the beach from April through Sept. 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, birding and picnicking. However, for the 2022 summer, the Lighthouse remains closed for a restoration project, expected to last until October. The park office, interpretive center, fisherman’s walkway 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 walking, hiking, birding 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 State Park NJDEP)

Corson’s Inlet State Park in Ocean City also remains free under the state’s summer plan — but there is no swimming allowed. The park is a popular area 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 features a natural beach with open shelly areas — and is part of the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island beach on the state's entire coast (along with adjacent federal sites, Holgate and Little Beach). Pedestrian access on the oceanfront remains open year-round, but swimming is not allowed.

Sandy Hook is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. There, the beach access itself is free but there is a parking fee during peak season.

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

Atsion Recreation Area (Wharton State Forest)
Open Wednesday - Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday)

Belleplain State Forest
Anticipated opening June 25

Cheesequake State Park
Open Wednesday - Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday)

High Point State Park
Open Wednesday - Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday)

Hopatcong State Park
Open Wednesday - Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday)

Parvin State Park
Open Wednesday - Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday)

Round Valley Recreation Area
Anticipated opening June 25

Swartswood State Park
Anticipated opening July 9

Wawayanda State Park
Open Wednesday - Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday)

At lakefront beaches, lifeguards are typically on duty Wednesday - Sunday from 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. for the summer season.

For the 2022 season, swimming is closed at 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

The Wildwoods' beaches — which span five miles from North Wildwood and Wildwood to Wildwood Crest — are completely free, each summer.

Beach access at Atlantic City — along the world’s longest boardwalk — also has remained free year-round.

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

For a full look at 2022 free municipal beaches in New Jersey, check here.

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

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

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of 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 of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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