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A privately-owned association lake, Lake Owassa is located in Sussex County in the Culvers Gap Area of the Skyland Region. The lake is only 275-acres with its deepest point being 24 feet. First known as "Long Pond" in an original verified deed dated 1693, the lake name was changed to Lake Owassa in 1903 after Reverand Lloyd of the Branchville Presbyterian Church wrote a poem about the history of the area. In the poem was a Native American girl "Owassa" and references to a nearby lake called Lake Owassa. In 1947 a group of property owners formed the Lake Owassa Community Association, virtually making the lake private.
The natural lake was formed in a glacial depression with the top two feet or so being created by an active beaver dam that has been on the lake for over 125 years. Removing the dam would result in a reduction of the lake's depth by about three feet. Sussex County, which is known as one of the most pristine areas of New Jersey, is also famous for its four season leisure activities such as skiing, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, hiking, and biking. Other attractions in the mountains of northwestern New Jersey include golf, snowboarding, water parks, world-class spas, and sports facilities.
There are no public access points to the lake and the use of the lake is limited exclusively to its members. With a number of available vacation rentals and real estate on the lake, it is an ideal lake to consider for a week stay or a retirement home. Many of the homes around the lake are pre-World War II lake cottages with dockside screen houses that can be rented seasonally. Located in the center of Sussex County, Frankford Township, Lake Owassa is below the Kittatinny Mountains along with Culver Lake, which features the historic Culver Lake Inn.
Lake Owassa is stocked in the fall with hybrid stripers and small mouth bass and in the spring with trout. The water is closely monitored by the association to ensure that the water quality stays at a constant level of purity. Fishing is closely monitored and only allowed by members and their guests. Other activities sponsored by the association include canoe trips, sailboat races, picnics, and boat parades.
If you're staying at the lake, be aware that black bears are frequently seen in the area. Having been extirpated from the state in the mid 1800's, the black bear has made a comeback since the regrowth of forestland following the abandonment of farms after the turn of the century. Keep all food in bear canisters and if you see a bear, stay as far away as possible.
For a small-town American atmosphere centered around a beautiful lake in the mountains, head to Lake Owassa for a weekend or summer getaway. The season opens before the 4th of July with a sailboat race and ends around Labor Day with a sailboat race. What better way to escape the heat of the south than to head north to Sussex County and live on a lake - even for just a few weeks.
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