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Lake Carnegie, NJ: Things to Do and See

bridge over water

Venturing into our surrounding community supports an active lifestyle and enriches your inner spirit. For diverse outdoor activities, visit scenic Lake Carnegie.

Snugly situated along Princeton’s eastern and southern edges, this narrow, four-mile reservoir took shape when the town dammed the Millstone River in 1906. That project was funded by the legendary Andrew Carnegie, so the subsequent lake was named after him.

While that name communicates wealth, metaphorical treasures await you at Lake Carnegie throughout the year.

Go to row

Carnegie, a renowned benefactor, contributed to the dam’s construction expressly for Princeton University’s crew team. More than a century later, you can still find the school’s team rowing on the lake’s waters. The University maintains the lake’s boathouse, dubbed Shea Rowing Center.

Local residents can participate in rowing programs at the boathouse via the Carnegie Lake Rowing Association through paid memberships. This association offers programs for all experience levels.

Away from the boathouse, you can find other active paddlers. Kayaks and canoes are welcome on Lake Carnegie. Swimming and motorized boats are prohibited, however.

Near the lake, you will discover rental shops if you need a boat. These shops offer group lessons and tours, too.

Trek the trail

For a sense-engaging trek, head to the lake’s east shore. You will meet the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail. This multiuse trail’s length exceeds 70 miles, but let’s stick to the short, lovely portion that divides Lake Carnegie and the canal.

Topped with dirt, this section of the D&R Canal Trail, as it’s nicknamed, is flat and gentle. You can walk, run, or ride a bicycle on it. It’s six miles roundtrip – a fair distance if you enjoy scenic jogs with a device that logs your steps and mileage. Simultaneously, you will be flanked by peaceful trees and two spirit-replenishing waterways.

Parking is located just north of Alexander Road and Canal Road at the lake’s south end. To access parking for the D&R Canal Trail near the lake’s north end, head to Mapleton Road off the Brunswick Pike. As the road bends to the right, look for the blue sign that designates the public lot.

Snap a shutter

You needn’t be Ansel Adams to capture memorable nature photographs at Princeton’s lake. If you like to record your surroundings, routine visits throughout the year will help you chronicle seasonal changes at Lake Carnegie.

With the right timing, you’ll snap stellar images of morning fog or sunlight dancing on ripples. Additionally, Washington Road and Harrison Street traverse the lake upon photogenic bridges. Imagine these surrounded by blossoming trees.

The lake’s ecosystem hosts deer, foxes, wild turkeys, otters, and beavers. With a keen eye, you might spot a groundhog. Lake Carnegie’s spectrum of seasonal waterfowl includes herons, geese, swans, cormorants, mergansers, and egrets. With time, you’ll gather an impressive portfolio.

Peep each leaf

As September stretches into October, we highly recommend weekly visits to Lake Carnegie’s surroundings. Such a schedule will let you fully absorb the local greenery’s transition into fall hues. You’ll also find that students appreciate the lake’s coexistence with Princeton University.

If you are a seasonal resident, plan an autumn respite at the lake before your snowbird travels. Leaf-peeping memories will warm your heart until you return to this area.

Luck into a skate

Alternatively, if you stay with us throughout the winter, you could observe Lake Carnegie’s cool, calm side. Winter is a good time to catch the aforementioned fog upon the lake. If you’re lucky, it can also be a great destination for ice skating.

Lake Carnegie freezes approximately one winter in five. With sufficiently thick ice, you can skate on the lake’s surface. The town also lets folks walk on the ice.

Princeton uses a flag system to inform locals about the ice’s safety. You’ll see the flags at the boathouse. Red flags warn you not to venture onto the ice. White flags mean the ice is open.

As you become familiar with this New Jersey gem, you may curate a personal list of favorite activities and singular views. With that unique knowledge, you can help friends and family discover some truly exceptional things to do and see at Lake Carnegie.

Wildflowers and walking trails, a heritage-rich location near Princeton University, luxurious services and amenities—Stonebridge at Montgomery’s Life Plan Community in Skillman, NJ puts you at the center of it all. Schedule a visit today.

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