On May 1st 2021, Washington Township (Gloucester County) officially opened their new Cedar Lake Park! The park is for everyone, but this clearly “went to the dogs” as it features new fenced in dog runs, fishing piers at the lake, and a scenic walking path around the lake.. that is also available for dog walking (on a leash)
The new park features a paved walk around the property and lake, and a new parking area.
The main driveway entrance is off of Chapel Heights Road.. specifically 353 Chapel Heights Road.
But if you are in the large Washington Lake Park you can also walk a short trail to enter the new park area from the lake side.
The image below is our overlay rendering of the entrance off of Chapel Heights Road (red), the parking area (labeled), dog run area, Cedar Lake, and the blue path is a rough depiction of the walking path.
Later in the post we’ll present a different depiction showing the trail from the main Washington Lake Park Butterfly Trail area.
Note, dogs are allowed in the new Cedar Lake park area but are not allowed in the larger Washington Lake Park, so if you are bringing your dog… bring them in from Chapel Heights Road
We understand more features will be coming to the fenced in dog-run area… current global conditions have impact the delivery of some of the features.
We have also heard that the other dog-run area in the larger Washington Lake Park is no longer open… that the plan was to give the dogs this more dedicated area of the park so that it is easier to keep dogs out of the main park. If we get better confirmation on this, we will update the article.
This long post full of information and a photo tour! We explain how to get there!
UPDATES! We received the following reply from the Washington Twp Parks Director, to questions we asked:
- Township dog parks in other areas. What is closing? The two fenced areas in the (main) Washington Lake Park side are closing
- What is still coming to the new Cedar dog park? We have two pieces of agility equipment per side coming to the new fenced dog park areas. We are working on getting more pieces. After that, our next phase will be to add water over at the fenced dog park area
- Several questions on lack of shade… anything coming for that: We will also be adding shade over each bench that extends a good distance on each side, and in front for the dogs to get shade.
- What is the mileage of the full outer path walk? Wondering if park folks measured that. I can get that for you. We are working on a new map that will include Cedar Lake Park, and it will include all of that.
Cedar Lake Park – A Rebirth
Today everyone knows the massive and amazing Washington Lake Park. At 330 acres in size it is the largest municipal park in the state and features ball fields, playground equipment, tennis courts, a state-of-the-art amphitheater and more!
But the park we all know today has only been around since 1992.
Before the massive park was dedicated… there was a lake. A swimming lake… off of Chapel Heights Road… and it’s where the larger park takes its name from.
Simply called “Washington Lake”, for decades the cedar (but very clear) lake was a community gathering point for Washington Township and other area residents.
The core feature of the lake was swimming and the beach area… but in the park area were several buildings which housed snack stands and indoor spaces for community usage.
We located an advertisement in the 1978 Courier Post Newspaper announcing “Best Tribute of Elvis” featuring two shows during the 6 hour event. “All the facilities of the lake will be available”!
A 1997 Courier listing of area parks calls out “Lake, basketball, sand volleyball, snack bar and playground”
Unfortunately, about 12-15 years ago the lake closed. We couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but a 2011 NJ.com article mentions “it has been closed for several years”
We understand it was a combination of “Declining usage, declining usage from town residents, and budget management”
So for 10-15 years the Washington Lake was left mostly abandoned… seen only by those who chose to adventure through the woods of the adjacent Washington Lake Park.. and of course it was also popular with the area kids.
In 2019, we caught wind of plans to revitalize the lake for new uses. Although swimming was not one of them… the town had plans to make this awesome lake and park area a positive space for the residents.
In an August 7 2020 Facebook post, Washington Township gave some details on the plans and funding:
The Cedar Lake portion of the park has been essentially closed and out of service for many years now. The Township completed demolition of the defunct buildings and developed a scope for re-opening of this portion of the park. In addition, we have applied for and later last year were awarded a $426,500 grant for improvements as well as a $323,750 loan from the NJDEP Green Acres division.Washington Township Official Facebook Page; August 7, 2020
Cedar Lake Park: Photo Tour
42Freeway visited the new park back in March 2021, about 6 weeks before the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
While some work was in progress (leveling of the old beach area), all the core features were in place; paved walking path, piers. fenced in dog park area, seating and more.
The photos we present here are from that March 2021 visit. A few aspects may have changed since then.
Main Entrance and Parking
The park is located at 353 Chapel Heights Road, Washington Township. This address will get you to the main entrance, which leads to a dedicated parking area.
If you are bringing your dog, this is the entrance you have to take.
This sign is just past the entrance gate (which the close after hours).
To the left starts the walking path, and cars travel to the right towards the new parking lot.
In the distance you can see the black fencing of the new dog-run areas.
Roadway in to the park heads off to the right, with some curbside parking available in this area. The dog run area is seen to the left.
The dedicated parking area is at the end of this roadway in (again, this is off to the right)
Fenced Dog Run Area
The new dog-run area provides two different sections, presumably for different sized dogs.
In the fenced in areas, the dogs can run free! But if you take Fido for a walk around the park, a leash is required.
When we visited in March there weren’t any other features available.. but we understand more are coming (and we will update the photos in our next trip)
To best explain the park layout… consider it like a “figure 8”.
There are two distinct areas of the park:
- Fenced in Dog-run area (and parking)
- Cedar Lake and Piers
So the asphalt path circles the entire park area outer edge, and also crosses in the middle near the dog-runs.
In essence… it makes a figure eight with the two key features centered in each of the loops of the 8.
Well it’s not a perfect round figure-8, but you get the point. See my maps! ha
Through-out the park and path are nice bench resting areas.
The path is freshly laid asphalt, providing a wide enough path for people to pass from either direction.
As you can see from the photo below, the path moves through some wooded sections, as well as the lake and open field of the dog run area. This is the right-side path when leaving the fenced in dog park area.
As we exit the short wooded area of the trail, we get our first look at Cedar Lake!
You will be absolutely AMAZED at how clear the water is!
The path bumps out around the old beach. In this photo, one of the remaining old buildings can be seen (this is from March)
Looking out across the lake, we can see the two new fishing piers in place!
The image below is the old swim lake beach! This photo was taken in March 2021, and when we visited this area was being smoothened out by a construction team member. We will update this photo in an upcoming visit.
No you can not swim in the lake. And you can’t bring boats.
That is some CLEAR Water. Even standing on the piers and looking down several feet, it was crystal clear. If there are fish in here… you’ll be able to watch them!
This is another bench area which sits right before the old beach, and looks out over the lake! You can see the construction truck smoothing out the old beach area in the distance (March 2021 photo)
We’ve now started coming around to the other side of Cedar Lake. Getting close to the fishing piers!
The area across the way is where we were just walking.
At this point of our photo tour, we have turned the corner of the lake and we start walking back towards the main entrance (parking and dog run area).
It’s not a long walk… but we still have a ways to go!
And we are approaching the two piers!
NOTE: At the end of the post I’ll call out how to get to the park from the larger Washington Lake Park. This photo below is basically the area where that trail brings you to. It is the furthest end from the Chapel Heights main entrance!
The first of two floating fishing piers! All new construction!
So if I didn’t make it clear… I’ll mention now. Basically…
People are not allowed to access into the water. No swimming or boating
Notice these structures are called “piers” not docks. Docks would imply people can launch boats. These are not docks, and in fact these are completely surrounded by fence barriers. No boats. No swimming.
Plenty of room on the piers! Say hello to Mrs 42Freeway!
The view from the pier, looking across the Cedar Lake towards the former beach area.
This is the second pier.. as we approach closer to the incline path back to the main entrance.
Dog Friendly! Dog Waste Stations!
We mentioned that the entire park is dog-friendly!
In the lake area though, dogs must be on a leash and under control from their “parent”
Washington Township has set-up Dog Waste Stations along the way! This is in the pier area.
Heading Back to the Dog-Run Area
Here we are leaving the lake area and heading back towards the main entrance and dog-run area.
A good time to call out that the lake is a lower grade than the entrance/dog-run area.
In the start of our photo tour the grade seemed more gradual (of course we were going down!). In this return trip for us the grade felt slightly more steep. Not that steep is the proper word to describe it, as it wasn’t too steep.
Back to the dog-run area.
Remember my “it’s kind of like a figure-8″…. Well while the picture below is cropped on the right, this is approaching the center point of the figure 8 and a path heads off to right but straight into the distance, to the entrance
Across the green grass is the center of the O in the eight. To the left is across the middle. And off to the right is the path around towards the entrance driveway.
Washington Lake Park Entrance – Butterfly Trail
So that is the end of the full loop tour, starting with the main entrance off of Chapel Heights road.
We mentioned a couple times you can get to the new Cedar Lake park area from the main Washington Lake park area, and we’ll cover that in this section.
You’ll need to take a short trail through the woods, which is accessible off of the Butterfly Trail area.
This is a fun trip in itself!
Washington Lake Park is huge.. so the best way to identify the area to get to the Butterfly Trail is, “Parking Lot G”
The trail entrance is along the woods… and from the parking lot area you can see a path going back between the ball fields.
For our March 2021 trip, the Cherry Trees were in full bloom!
Walking down that trail you’ll come to a fork in the road.
Paved to the right. Dirt trail to the left.
To get to Cedar Lake Park, you want the dirt trail to the left.
Directly in front of us is the Butterfly Trail area, which is a quiet portion of the park with seating, trees and plants.. that were designed to attract butterflies! We were just a little too early with our March visit.
Remember… head to the LEFT from here. See it going off on a curve to the left?!
Now is probably a good time to bring up my other map… slightly larger than the prior.
When you take the wide dirt path off to the left, you follow it around, you then need to make one turn… right.
In my map below, the upper right corner is Parking Lot G.
The Butterfly Trail area is marked… and you see my blue line?
It follows around to the left, and when you see the trail intersection.. make a sharp right. It will take you directly to Cedar Lake!
Walking the trail towards Cedar Lake Park. Turn Right is in the distance where the two people are.
After turning right, the short path leads right to Cedar Lake Park!
What you’ll see after entering!
Links and Locations!
Cedar Lake Park – Dog-runs and Fishing Piers!
353 Chapel Heights Road
Hours are: Dawn to Dusk
- It’s for walking. Walking your dog on a leash.
- No water entry… swimming or boating.
- Fishing is allowed in the lake, pursuant to New Jersey Fishing regulations.
- Questions: 856-589-6427
Website (For Washington Lake Park)