The Natural Beauty of Round Valley


Sneha Panchani

The Round Valley Reservoir, located in Clinton Township, consists of two dams and a flooded large valley and is the perfect place wherein to align with nature and find peace when you are stressed. This natural area is perfect during the summer, fall, and spring when flowers are blooming, the sun is blazing, or the leaves are changing colors.  As a high school student, planning a trip to this local reservoir is a perfect social activity during difficult times like the pandemic. Masks and social distancing are highly suggested when most people gather or walk next to each other on trails. It is important that parks continue to enforce these rules to maintain COVID safety. But even though life may be confusing or hectic, it is always important to schedule some time for nature. 

The reservoir is constructed for all types of people who prefer different outdoor activities, including hiking/walking trails, fishing, camping, beaches, picnics, and boating;  people of all ages can find ways to keep themselves busy during this pandemic and beyond. 

There are three marked trails at Round Valley: the Cushetunk Trail, Pine Tree Trail, and the Family Hiking and Biking Trail. The Cushetunk trail is very well known as a rigorous nine-mile adventure in various terrains. It travels through open and heavily wooded areas and is more suitable for experienced hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Family-friendly and less rigorous hikes include both the Pine Tree Trail as well as the trail following the waters. They pass through pinewoods and are ideal for young children, birdwatchers, and seniors. During and at the end of each trail resides a beautiful view of both the mountainous terrain and the reservoir. Some trails may require more effort than others but it is important that you have the motivation to continue.

Those interested in taking to the water have a public boat launch located north of the day-use area. Sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and motorboats are permitted on the reservoir but first must be registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles. In addition, each person must be accountable for a Boat Ramp Maintenance Permit or fishing, hunting, and trapping license to access the public boat launch. Enjoying the day out on the water is a wonderful way to socialize with family or friends. Having a local area for water activities is clutch when beaches are over an hour’s drive from Hunterdon County. 

One of the greatest opportunities Round Valley provides is camping right on the water’s edge or within the secluded shadows of the surrounding trees. Round Valley is one of the few spots in New Jersey that offers primitive wilderness camping. The campsite is only accessible by hiking or biking. It is a three to six mile hike from the parking lot and tent sites; drinking water and restrooms are within walking distance from the camping sites. Camping is a wonderful way to enjoy good food, conversation, and the outdoors. 

For small or large family/friend gatherings, there are three picnic areas within the reservoir; two are located on tree-shaded spots by the beaches and the third is on a hill overlooking the reservoir. At each picnic site, visitors can find tables, grills, and playground equipment. This activity is great for families to have a nice meal in the outdoors. Though large gatherings are not allowed during this time, people can still enjoy themselves in a safe environment near the beach or the mountains. 

Swimming is also permitted at Round Valley in the day-use area only from Memorial Day through Labor Day when lifeguards are on duty. Swimming is not allowed in the main reservoir for safety reasons. Near the beach area, visitors can easily access changing areas, restrooms, showers, and a concession building with food and beach supplies. However, due to COVID, this facility has been closed for the season and swimming is not permitted. On the beach, there are playgrounds and volleyball courts. After the pandemic, this would be a great location to spend the summer with friends and family. 

Overall, Round Valley Reservoir is an ideal location to socialize in a safe manner as well as enjoy wonderful outdoor activities. Put this place on your to-do list and enjoy the wonderful views of the reservoir and mountain ranges.