I grew up without a swimming pool. I remember long, hot drives in an overcrowded station wagon down winding back roads to the Darlington Swim Club. Once I was older, my friends and I would race up Route 17 to hike up to "Unemployment Rock" in Mahwah. After climbing to the top lake, we felt we earned the right to take a dip even if the signs made it clear that swimming was forbidden.
Though many lakes in Bergen County are either members only or "not for swimming," you can find fun aqua-activities nearby, if you navigate the waters correctly. Some public lakes allow fishing while others, like the Celery Farm in Allendale, just make for a great walk. If kayaking, canoeing and boating are more your style, read on. Here's a breakdown of some of the lakes, streams and waterways in and around Bergen County:
Swimmers Welcome!Darlington County Park, 600 Darlington Ave., Mahwah, is open for swimming from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is $4 weekday, $5 weekends for registered adult residents, $8 weekday, $10 weekend for non-Bergen County residents.
Seven Lakes Drive. Just north of Bergen County, Harriman State Park's Seven Lakes Drive offers three swimming lakes: Lake Sebago Beach, Lake Tiorati Beach and Lake Welch Beach, which is the largest swimming beach in the park. Fishermen are also welcome, but a New York fishing license is required.
Gas The Boat and Go. When it comes to motorized boats, the options in this area are limited. Boaters can either take to the Hudson River, head west to Greenwood Lake or Lake Hopatcong or go south to the Jersey Shore.