It’s tough to do any sort of activity after working all day, but when the weather is an unexpected 75 degrees, it’s hard to pass up on a trip to the park. In this case, one of our default destinations is the expansive Mercer County Park, covering portions of Hamilton, West Windsor, and Lawrence Township, New Jersey. Mercer County Park deserves its own wing of posts within our travel blog, as it is a fully functional space with facilities and activities for all hobbyists. 2,500 acres of property boasting services such as a world class tennis center, performing arts stage, festival grounds, ice skating rink, over 25 fields, a disc golf course (!), volleyball courts, basketball courts, dog parks, picnic areas, a truly moving 9/11 memorial, plenty of nature/hiking/fishing opportunities, a bald eagle habitat, and a boathouse and marina. Within the area of the boathouse and marina is Mercer Lake, the beautiful man-made reservoir, and today’s destination.
The story of Mercer Lake is standard in environmental infrastructure policy. In 1975 a dam was formed to contain the flooding of nearby Assunpink Creek from the former USDA Soil Conservation Service – now the Natural Resources Conservation Service. During the construction of I-295, work crews excavated the basin as a complimentary service with no additional cost to the taxpayers (hard to believe). The basin is now the beautiful Mercer Lake, flowing through the heart of the massive Mercer County Park that surrounds it.
Present day, the belly perimeter of Mercer Lake is a frequently traveled stretch for hikers, dog walkers, fisherman, families. Grilling pavilions are available for rent, and spacious green patches are ideal for picnics and photo opportunities. Most notably, Mercer Lake is home to one of the premiere US Olympic Rowing training centers. The Lake hosted US Olympic Team trials in 1988, 1992, 2004, and 2008. Both Junior and National Rowing regattas are held there. The Olympic Rowing presence at Mercer Lake is one of the stronghold legacies of the area, and Mercer County Park as a whole. When going for a walk along Mercer Lake, it is not uncommon to both witness and overhear the intense team rowing training going on at any given time. Mercer Lake is a frequent fishing destination, too. The Lake is well stocked with bass, catfish, and perch, with a high catch rate.
While not a natural body of water, Mercer Lake has both the historical framework of the development of infrastructure and flood control in the 1970s, and has since become a revered facility for Olympic caliber rowing. Aside from that, Mercer Lake is always popular for a stroll and some photography. A truly pleasant way to spend time in good weather.
For more information, please consider visiting: Mercer County Park Commission | Mercer County, NJ