Christina H.
Monroe, NJ
Joined August 2019
Stokes State Forest: A nature-lovers dream (Review for Shotwell Campsite)

I would definitely recommend this campsite to anyone wanting a beautiful, remote setting, but with all of the conveniences that the campgrounds offer. Anyone from a beginner to an expert would enjoy Stokes. Whether it be just a short, relaxing weekend trip or an adventure-packed week long trip, this place has the potential to be whatever you make it.

Pros:

  • Has the perfect balance of feeling secluded without feeling completely alone in the middle of nowhere; the campsite we were specifically on was just far enough to be remote-feeling and fully private with trees surrounding it

  • Cute little pond right on the campgrounds

  • Our site had a fire ring, a picnic table, and a large sturdy pole with a hook for your lantern/mesh dry bag/etc

  • Even, rocky, yet soft enough ground to sleep on, many trees available for hammock camping

  • There was a huge, nasty storm one night that we stayed there, with terrible downpour and flash flood warnings, our site was elevated and did not get flooded

  • A lot of firewood and kindling in the area to be gathered, or you can buy firewood right from the office

  • Lots of stuff to do in the area for nature-lovers and outdoors-enthusiasts (Hiking trails, fishing/fly-fishing, sightseeing, mountain-biking, kayaking/paddle-boarding (rentals in the area if you do not own), hunting, swimming, horseback riding, waterfall-hunting, bird/wildlife watching (there are hawks, rabbits, owls, deer, toads, snakes, turtles, frogs, foxes, bats, salamanders, many interesting bugs, beavers, and bears in the area, you never know what you will see), lots of beautiful brooks and streams throughout the entire park, many awesome remote areas to set up your hammock and relax) Whoever said that there wasn't much to do here is just either not an outdoors person or straight up lying!

  • Water and dumpsters are within walking distance, or if you are not up to walking you can just take a short drive to fill up and dispose of your trash

  • There are outhouses scattered around, or if you are really needing a clean restroom where you can wash your hands, the park office's restroom is always open and very clean

  • Can be buggy at night time however, I was pleasantly surprised to have experienced zero mosquito bites and ZERO ticks on ourselves and even our dog (however she did have a leech on her from playing in the brook all day). We moderately used bug spray on ourselves and the dog had her flea and tick topical on.

  • Beautiful view of the stars on a clear night (Which can be breathtaking especially to city folk or those that cannot see stars from their homes)

Cons:

  • Can hear the traffic from 206, but generally gets much quieter at night

  • Campsites are close enough that you may occasionally hear other groups if they are being very loud (We were next to a group campsite that had a very noisy party crowd, but could really only hear them at their loudest, and we weren't bothered)

  • Tent sites are located just off the dirt road where people travel to get to their sites, which means other campers' cars will occasionally pass right through your area. If this bothers you, be sure to book a site as far back as possible. Ex: Site T137 should have no vehicle traffic but your own and is the most remote of that area

  • Water fill stations can be a bit busy at certain times

  • Our fire ring rack was bent, but luckily we came prepared with our own rack to place on top of it and it worked out

  • Lots of poison ivy in the area, if you are not immune to it be very mindful of where you are stepping!

  • Our neighbor warned us that they got a flat tire after arriving at their campsite, and after searching their site found a bunch of nails almost intentionally thrown about. It's not the park's fault and the rangers were made aware of it. Carefully check your site after arriving for anything out of place and report to the office if necessary to keep these campsites safe and enjoyable.

Points of interest nearby the campsite:

  • Big Flat Brook - A beautiful babbling brook that runs all throughout the area. Has great fly fishing for stocked rainbow trout. Access to the brook was only a short but beautiful hike north from our site through some thistle fields and woodlands.

  • Buttermilk falls (Tallest waterfall in NJ), Tillman Ravine, Dingmans Ferry/Falls, and my personal favorite, Silver Spray Falls - Multiple gorgeous waterfalls and ravines just waiting to be explored, all within ~15-20 min by car. I definitely recommend checking them out while you are camping here especially if you live far away from the area.

  • Sunrise Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain - Catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset on top of Sunrise Mountain, which is a pleasant, scenic car ride directly to the top where there is a small parking lot, a smelly outhouse, and a nice picnic table area with a great view. Rattlesnake Mountain is a part of the Appalachian Trail and is somewhat barren towards the top which makes for excellent views. Like its name, it's not uncommon to see many snakes in the area, rattlesnakes tend to hang out on the top and sunbathe on the rocks. Keep your pets on a leash and have a stick handy just in case, however, they will leave you alone if you keep your distance.

  • Lake Ashroe, Stony Lake, Lake Ocquittunk - Many lakes for multiple activities in the area such as fishing (trout stocked waters), kayaking, swimming (Stony lake has a beach area with lifeguards, restrooms, and picnic areas. Check their website for more info.)

  • Horseback riding - A few great horseback riding places nearby, some offering trail rides through the beautiful park.

  • Appalachian Trail - The widely-known Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only trail in the world, that runs all the way from Maine to Georgia goes right through this area. You may run into very interesting people from all over who are thru-hiking the AT.

PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR VISIT. LEAVE NO TRACE. KEEP OUR PARKS BEAUTIFUL. THANK YOU.