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If you’re on the lookout for quiet, mindful camping and kayaking in Lake Lenape, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the understated camping experience called Lake Lenape. Located in South Jersey, it’s perfectly situated in the lush Pine Barrens. Even better, it will promote your self healing.

Lake Lenape holds a treasure trove of secrets, and I’m here to share them with you. I’m Jenn Fisher, a lifelong resident of the area and a camping pro since my early childhood happy camper days.

camping mindfully in Lake Lenape with silent forests

Picture this: a camping haven where budget-friendly accommodations meets luxury (in the form of brand new flush toilets and hot showers…all for free). Add to that the thrill of waking up and stepping out of your tent to embark on a hiking or kayaking adventure right from your site. This is the essence of Lake Lenape, a hidden gem for mindful solo travelers seeking self-healing in nature.

How To Camp Mindfully

I’ve camped in some the best state and national parks, and know the joys of being in the great outdoors. But let’s talk about the pain points of camping – the disappointment of being cramped into a tiny site that can spoil the joy of the great outdoors. Imagine missing out on a breathtaking lake view because you didn’t snag the right spot. And who hasn’t experienced the boredom that comes from having nothing to do while camping?

I’ve been exploring Lake Lenape since my childhood, and each camping trip has been a chapter in my journey of self-healing as a trauma survivor. Yet, it’s not all pain. I have plenty of happy experiences from my childhood. For example, the memory of a thrilling rope swing by the lake that made every camping adventure unforgettable.

As a trauma survivor, and seasoned camper with roots deeply embedded in this region, I understand the importance of being mindful of pain points to manage trauma triggers. First on my list is usually choosing the right campsite. Being triggered while camping is hard, and although trauma triggers happen, having the suitable campsite can help a lot.

Camping and Kayaking In Lake Lenape brings you beautiful lake views and quiet trails
Lake Lenape sunset

In This Guide For Camping and Kayaking In Lake Lenape

In this guide, we’ll dive into the art of snagging the best campsite, discovering the highly-coveted local-only kayak trips, and ensuring your camping experience is nothing short of extraordinary. I’m here to empower all travelers, campers, and kayakers seeking mindful travel. Welcome to the joy of camping in Lake Lenape’s prime spots, and get ready to embrace the healing touch of nature.

Location

The park entrance is located at 6303 Harding Highway in Mays Landing, on western side of Lake Lenape. That’s why it is called ‘Lake Lenape West’. The land encompasses nearly two-thousand acres.

In addition to camping, mountain biking, and hiking, this county park also offers a boating permits for kayaks, canoes, and outboard motors. In the snowy winter, the park offers cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing, fishing, hiking, and hunting. I have personally experienced each activity (except hunting) and recommend them all. Lake Lenape is also an excellent place to sight Bald Eagles during this season.

Camping

Lake Lenape campground in New Jersey features 30 campsites with two full service restroom facilities, one at the camp entrance and one at the back. They also offer 3 portable toilets and potable water throughout the campground. The camping fees are $17 a night for up to six people.

In addition to tent sites, there are also brand new lean-tos bordering the lake. The campground spans a considerable acreage, providing ample space for outdoor activities. There’s also a great playground, gazebo overlooking the lake, and sites with kayak access.

map of Lake Lenape campground
Site #35 in Lake Lenape: the last site on the left

Call the reservation office for more information and questions at (609) 625-8219. Mays Landing is a small, old fashioned town, and they are staffed with friendly and helpful people. In fact, so old fashioned that not long ago campsites had to be reserved in person. However, the county recently moved to online reservations.

expansive lake views form site #35
View from site #35

Book This Campsite

Although all the camping in the campground is spacious and lovely, there is one campsite that is an absolute stand out. I highly recommend to you site #35. Since the online reservations system took effect, the competition for reserving this prime site has increased. As a result the secret site is snagged for months in advance.

Why Site #35

Not only is it larger than the other sites, it has unbeatable waterfront accessibility. This campground sits along the banks of Lake Lenape. So all of the sites have incredible water views for your journaling time. The difference with site 35 That it also has a small, private sandy beach. In addition, it is one of the few sites you can launch your kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board right then and there. 

Another selling point of site 35 is the interesting view. From your camping chair, you will have steady entertainment watching various vehicles on the lake. Remember water skiing? So do the regulars at Lake Lenape. If throwback is your thing, you’ll love watching the fancy water tricks and stunts of these skiers.

sandy beach at site #35

Yet you will also have peace and quiet since this site is relatively isolated from the rest. For all of your mindful nature and self-healing needs, this site delivers. You have earth, water, sand, and even praying mantes to mindfully engage with the nature at Lake Lenape. The site comes with a picnic table and fire ring. Bring your hammock because it is a perfect place to lounge, nap or read while taking in the peaceful Pine Barren forest. Finally, those new hot showers and flush toilets are just a short walk away.

author swinging a hammock
Cozy hammock for sleeping or meditating

Hiking

Once your site is settled and you’ve made camp, you can begin to explore. If hiking is your thing, there is a very quiet and secluded out and back trail to the north of the campsites. Just remember to protect yourself against Lyme disease because ticks are prevalent in this area thanks to many families of deer. The hike will follow a main trail that occasionally passes through sand. The forest is made up of mainly pitch pines, but you also see shortleaf pine, black oak, white oak, chestnut oaks, post oak, and blackjack oak as well. 

Along the trail, there are a few cut-ins to the lake. Many of these foot trails lead to thick briars, downed logs, and hilly areas overlooking the lake. These are nice quiet spots where you can place your hands in the sand and enjoy the moment all to yourself. If you take the main trail all the way to its end, you’ll hike for about 1.5 miles. If you meander, you can extend that distance.

sunset over lake Lenape
Views from one of the many quiet spots off the trail

I’m grateful to have experienced hiking in Wyoming, Arizona, Virginia, and even Ireland, and confidently recommend the solitary trail at Lake Lenape to mindfully connect with nature.

Canoe and Kayaks

Looking to maximize your time on the water? Lake Lenape has so much to offer. Since kayaks and canoes can be launched from your site at your convenience, you have sunrise and sunset privileges. However, if you are looking for an all day adventure, why not combine your paddling with exploration? 

author enjoying Camping and Kayaking In Lake Lenape

Paddle The Lake and River – At A Glance

If you want to explore distances beyond the immediate environment, here are two kayak trips for you. With varied lengths and logistics, they have something for everyone.

Great Egg Harbor Water Trails – Atlantic County Segment

Starting PointDistanceTime
Trip #1 Weymouth To Winding River2.7 miles2-3 hours
Trip #2 Acagisca To Lake Lenape4.33-4 hours
kayaks on the river peaceful and beautiful
The gentle Great Egg Harbor River allows for a relaxing, effortless float

River Trip #1

For this river trip, you will use the local campground called Winding River. In business since the 1970’s, this family-owned campground has offered river trips to campers since. If you don’t have a boat of your own, they offer kayaks and tubes for rent.

Transport From Winding River

If you choose this option, you’ll begin the trip at their property: 6752 Weymouth Rd, Mays Landing, NJ 08330. Bring your kayak or canoe to them and for a small fee, they transport you up the river.

Great Egg Harbor River when flow is low
Typical view of kayaking on the Great Egg Harbor River

 With your boat loaded on their trailer, you’ll get in the van and be brought to Weymouth Furnace, 2050 Weymouth Rd, Mays Landing. This route will take you about two hours to complete, depending upon river water levels. A lazy ride down the river will return you to Winding River Campground where you began.

Once you arrive back at the campground via the river, you paddle to the designated launch and drag your boat ashore. From there you can wait for a campground trailer to pick you up and return you up the hill back to your parked vehicle. Otherwise, if you don’t want to wait, you’re free to drag it back yourself. There is a restroom adjacent to the camp office for use either before or after your trip.

At the time of this writing, transport was $15. If it’s a holiday weekend, there may be a wait.

Fun rope swing along the river
If you’re lucky the rope swing will be up for use

River Trip #2

If you are a true independent thrill seeker solo camper, and want a longer, half day trip this option is for you. If you have a backpack, a bike and a vehicle to transport it, you can actually do this second trip by yourself and for free.

For this kayak or canoe trip, you will begin your journey at Camp Acagisca, located at 6755 Weymouth Road, Mays Landing. Please note that you will see Winding River Campground on the map (below) but you are not starting Trip #2 there. Winding River Campground appears predominately because it is so close to Acagisca. So for Trip #1 you end your paddling at Winding River. But for Trip #2, you are starting very close to the campground, at Acagisca.

This trip is tricky, but worth it. I’m proud to claim this fun adventure as my own creation, the result of wanting to save the $15 transport fee and not need a second person to pick me up or drop me off. An important component of my self healing is my independence. It empowers me to be self sufficient and be able to rely on myself to meet my needs.

Of course if you are camping and have two vehicles or even a second vehicle to pick you up, you don’t need to bike as one leg of your put-in.

Section of the river for put in place for your camp, kayak, healing in Lake Lenape
Camp Acagisca, where you will start for Trip #2

How To Do River Trip #2: Biking and Paddling

Since you are camping at Lake Lenape already, the first thing you need to do is obtain a $5 parking permit to leave your vehicle at Camp Acagisca. You get the permit at the Lake Lenape office, the same office you checked in for camping. Next, you need to lock your bike either at your site or at the bike rack that is adjacent to the showers and bathroom. Then, you drive your car to transport your kayak or canoe to Acagisca. Place your parking permit in the front of your windshield. Finally, drag you boat down the landing which is part hill, part steps before reaching the sandy river’s edge. Make sure your car keys are in a safe place in your boat.

Camp and kayak for healing
Your starting point for entering the river at Acagisca looks like this
river views
Acagisca is an ideal spot for meditating and using nature to heal

The beginning part of your trip is like floating down a slow, lazy river, depending on the flow. Heavy recent rainfall could affect that, including felled trees. However, the occasional work to get around downed logs worth it.

downed logs to navigate kayak
Some logs you’ll duck under. Others require some maneuvering

The river carries you through a swampy-looking areas with lots of shade, which is great for autoimmune warriors needing sun safety. There are live trees and old logs tangled up with moss in spots. Some trees look like they’re floating with only half their roots, and others have fallen down with roots sticking up.

You can float along in a tube, kayak, or canoe, enjoying the dragonflies dancing on your boat and on the water. Warmth from the sun peeking through the trees is welcome, not overpowering. If you like the serenity of catbirds calling and random turtles diving off river banks, going down the upper Great Egg Harbor River will delight you.

From River To Lake

When begin to notice the river widen and the water temperature increase, you know you’re approaching the lake. There are a few, small signs to point your direction out to you. However, you may be better off relying on a few other methods to navigate. 

view of river as it transitions into the lake
When the river starts to widen, you’ll know you’re entering the lake

When you continue along, it will seem counter-intuitive to bear left, since it seems that Lake Lenape lies to your right. However, that will be the direction you will need to head.

view of river as it transitions into the lake
As you transition from river to lake, trees will give way to swamp and small islands.

The most dependable navigational device is the river itself. This is not only a practice in mindfulness, but also an empowering way to connect with nature. The simple trick to be sure about which way to paddle at a fork is to watch the water. The river will show you which way to take because it’s heading there already! If the flow is slow and you can’t immediately tell, get a leaf and toss it off the side of your boat. It will point the route out to you.

Another way to navigate is to use your GPS. It’s true, if you open your phone’s map program, you can zoom out and see the developed parts of Lake Lenape appear in your search. I have used this method successfully more than once.

On Lake Lenape

Paddle down and with careful navigation move from the river to the lake. You’ll get an excellent upper body workout, since paddling across the lake can be windy and strenuous. As you gain distance across the lake, you will start to notice landmarks such as the lighthouse that sits prominently in front of Lake Lenape West. If you were lucky enough to camp in site #35, you can paddle right up to your tent.

 

From Water To Land

The way you conclude your paddle excursion may vary, however, at this point you are done on the water. Now you need to drag your boat to your site and lock it up to a tree or the fence. Then ride your bike to Camp Acagisca to pick up your car or truck. It is an 18 minute bike ride and a distance of 3.6 miles. Double check you have your car keys.

When you reach Acagisca, there’s a short dirt road that may have a few sandy spots, causing you to walk your bike. Otherwise, you’ll recognize the same landmarks as when you drove in to park your vehicle. When you see your car, you’ll be glad you remembered your keys. When you reach it, load up your bike and drive back to Lake Lenape to retrieve your boat and relax at your site.

peaceful river in winter months
The river is peaceful all seasons of the year

Final Thoughts On Mindful Camping and Kayaking at Lake Lenape

This camping and kayaking trip is filled with activities to keep you moving, while at the same time provides hours of meditative nature connection. You can even choose to do an online therapy session in this quiet secluded setting since the wifi is awesome. In the process, you’ve gained empowerment, independence, and therefore a healing boost of self esteem. Happy Trails.

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