Oswego Lake: Where the Locals Walk on Water

Guide Travel

The first time I wandered upon the calm waters of Oswego Lake in Burlington County, N.J, I didn’t know it was the local favorite swimming hole. I didn’t care. I just couldn’t figure out how the swimmers in the middle of the lake were standing on the water!

I saw a group of swimmers walk out about 50 yards or so before than swam for about another 25 yards. Then they stood up and continued walking, seemingly on the water’s surface. I was dumbfounded. I’m sure no miracles happened in this part of New Jersey.  

“Amazing,” I heard a swimmer said. “You must be new because you keep staring out there. There’s no trick. It’s just a sand wash under the surface that’s all.”

Since then its become one of my favorite swimming holes in New Jersey.

History of Oswego Lake

About a 100 years ago when the state took over the land and decided to dam up the Wading River, workers created a 277-acre lake where a cranberry bog once operated. Currents that circulated through the kidney-shaped lake deposited a mound of soil near the middle of Oswego Lake’s western half. A small island appears during a drought because the sandy soil is so porous it allows the water table to drop if there is a week or so without rain. Most of the time, however, the water over the mound is about ankle to knee deep depending on recent rainfalls.

Free Family Fun

But Oswego Lake remains a favorite swimming hole for locals because its free and has a large parking lot. Families with small children enjoy the fact that the water is relatively shallow, making it safe for youngsters. There are picnic tables and room for many to enjoy a quiet summer day and the cool breezes that flow through the nearby Pine Barrens.

Room for a Picnic, Frisbee Toss

There’s a huge picnic area along the lake with a few picnic tables. There’s a grassy area nearby that gives everybody a chance to play horseshoes or throw a Frisbee.


Oswego Lake is located about three miles down Lake Oswego Road which is a northeast turn off of State Highway 679 and about 10 miles north of the Mullica River in the southern portion of New Jersey.

Launch a Canoe

There’s a canoe launch of the parking lot at the lake and many explore the odd-shaped lake while other family members swim and relax on the beach. Others use Oswego Lake as a put-in location for a canoe or kayak ride down the Wading River to Harrisville Lake, about day’s trip down the river.

Military buffs enjoy Oswego Lake because it’s located on the other side of the Penn Swamp Forest away from the bombing range at Warren Grove. That’s where pilots in the U.S. Armed Forces make their practice bombing runs.