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Tucked away within New Jersey's Skylands region, Lake Aeroflex is the crown jewel of the Kittatinny Valley State Park. Sometimes called New Wawayanda Lake, Aeroflex is considered the deepest natural lake in the State of New Jersey. That distinction brings with it some benefits as a fishery, as the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife has chosen Lake Aeroflex as one of only two lakes in the state to be stocked with landlocked salmon. (The other is nearby Wawayanda Lake). Lake Aeroflex and its small neighbor, Gardner's Pond, are a part of the Pequest River headwaters in Sussex County and as such need adequate protection to ensure continued good water quality. Visitors to the lake comment on the remarkably clear waters and usually vow to come back for another visit.
Created by glacial action, Lake Aeroflex covers 103 acres. A small water control dam is located at the outlet. The solitude and still waters make it appear much more remote than it actually is. The lake is only a mile or so from Route 206 and only a few miles north of Interstate 80. The lake even has a small airport along its southern shore which is used for local small plane traffic. The heavily wooded shoreline hides the few private homes located near the northeast shore of the lake, and gives a feeling of the woods and bluffs vistas seen in far more isolated destinations. Fall color here is spectacular, with the white limestone of the Great Limestone Valley's cliffs thinly veiled by scarlets, golds and bronzes of the hardwoods in full autumn dress. There are no swimming beaches or campgrounds within the 2000-acre park, but picnic grounds with grills offer the perfect place to relax and refresh after a walk along one of the many nature trails on the grounds.
Lake Aeroflex is a favorite among those who enjoy paddle sports. Meet-ups and paddling excursions are often held here. A small boat launch is available, but only electric and trolling motors are allowed. Fishermen often fish from a car-top kayak to get out to the depths where the most fish can be found. The landlocked salmon have been stocked since 2006, when the State of Massachusetts offered their excess hatchery fingerlings to New Jersey's use in its few deep and cold lakes. To take advantage of this coldwater fishery, the State also stocks the lake with rainbow trout and brown trout annually. These species feed on the alewives in open water areas and utilize the colder deep waters during hot summer weather. All fishermen at Lake Aeroflex are required to have a trout stamp in addition to a New Jersey fishing license and must observe all special fishing regulations. Certain periods of the year are catch-and-release only. The fish that survive the critical spring period are called 'hold-overs', and are then considered keepers if they meet size and creel limits. The cold water species are joined by a variety of other fish that anglers enjoy, such as bluegill, largemouth bass, chain pickerel and a variety of panfish. Two docks extend into the lake near the south end and can be used for fishing as well as casting from along the shore.
Lake Aeroflex is only one of four lakes within Kittatinny Valley State Park. Thirty-nine-acre Gardner's Pond is on the side of the airport opposite Lake Aeroflex. There is no boat launch or vehicle access, but small boats can be hand-carried across the airport parking lot to reach the lake. Twin Lakes is only 29 acres and can be reached from Goodale Road. A car-top boat launch is provided, or boaters can launch from the shore. Tiny White's Pond is open only to fishing from shore. The small lake is accessed via either Goodale Road or the Sussex Branch Trail. All of the lakes are open to ice fishing when ice thickness allows. These smaller lakes are popular with canoe and kayak users who come here to view the wildlife that is plentiful in the forest, meadows and wetlands around the shorelines. Wild turkey, whitetail deer, squirrel, beavers and muskrat are plentiful as are a variety of northern songbirds.
Many visitors pass through the Lake Aeroflex area on foot. Two rail-trails go through the state park and intersect other park trails. The Paulinskill Valley Trail extends for 27 miles along an abandoned railroad route and is suitable for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. The 20-mile Sussex Branch Trail is also an abandoned railroad bed with a stable cinder base. The trail continues on through nearby Allamuchy Mountain State Park. The Sussex Trail in particular is used as access to the smaller lakes and is wheelchair accessible in some areas. Mountain bike trails make up over eight miles of the park's trail system. A self-guided interpretive nature walk introduces visitors to the park's natural habitat and points of cultural interest. No motorized vehicles are allowed on any of the trails within the park. Those looking for day hike destinations may choose to walk south to Allamuchy Mountain State Park and walk through the restored historic Waterloo Village. Here, a 400-year-old Lenape Indian village is recreated near a 19th century village on the former Morris Canal. A grist and sawmill can be viewed along with blacksmith shop, general store and several period homes. A non-profit concession offers educational field trips and living displays for school children and other groups by reservation.
A lack of camping facilities at Lake Aeroflex will prevent no one from finding a place to stay near the lake and park. Several campgrounds and RV facilities locally offer their services. Some have swimming pools and guided nature hikes. Two state parks with campgrounds are within a 30-mile radius. Route 206 offers any number of small motels and guest facilities along with dining choices, numerous antique shops and all sorts of shopping and services. Andover Township borders the highway and has a number of small businesses and shops available just south of the park. North of Lake Aeroflex, the Town of Newton is well-equipped to handle every visitor's needs, from lodgings such as bed & breakfasts, inns, hotels, motels and guest cottages. The town also offers annual festivals celebrating the seasons and provides great fun for all residents and visitors alike. Located just half an hour east of Stroudsburg, PA and only 55 miles west of New York City, Lake Aeroflex offers the perfect spot for outdoor recreation close to major cities. Real estate can be found nearby, and the area remains somewhat isolated and quietly rural. Come for a weekend, a week, or a lifetime.
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