Places To Run: Manasquan Reservoir

Situated a short distance from Routes 9 and 195 sits a true runner’s oasis. Manasquan reservoir is the perfect change of pace from the stoplights and traffic jams so commonplace in the rest of the Garden State. The 5.1-mile loop, situated conveniently in Howell, is a no-frills, no nonsense running location. Built in the late 80’s and opened up in 1990, the reservoir boasts a 4 billion gallon capacity and is capable of supplying 30 million gallons of water a day. There is nothing overly unique about this location, but for some reason, we all seem to love it. It’s hard to figure out exactly why, but the reservoir is impossible to pass up. If a few weeks go by and we haven’t hit the legendary loop, we are drawn back to it. Its addictive tendencies are hard to explain.

The soft surface consisting of mostly quarry stone with some sections of packed dirt is a perfect escape for the pavement runner. The loop meanders around the picturesque waters of the reservoir. It serves the runner with the perfect getaway from the stresses of day-to-day life. In just minutes, you will breathe easier as you enjoy a natural and serene landscape. The perimeter trail (marked on the trail map in blue squares) takes you on a mostly flat, waterside circle, where the views of the reservoir are remarkable. The air is breathable and the crowd is particularly friendly and upbeat.

After your run, grab a brochure from the Park Rangers, check out the boat launch, and watch as eager fishermen hope to reel in the big one. The park is also a great place to bring the little ones. In addition to the wildlife, the Environmental Center offers dynamic, life-enrichment based programs for the kids. The reservoir is part of the Monmouth County Park System, an organization known for exceptional facilities and impeccable services. The reservoir is no exception as it lives up to the park system’s high standards. was on the scene at the reservoir last week where we chatted with some of the regulars.

Keri and Matt of Howell, do a loop (or sometimes 2) almost every weekend and they love this place. The soon-to-be married duo agreed that it’s one of their favorite running spots. “It’s so relaxing and it’s a great location for us. Our dog loves it here as well.”

Steve Geester and his dog Astro, both of Jackson, don’t come weekly but do get to the reservoir quite a bit. Steve mentioned that “It’s a great place to come with a dog. The wide trails and endless amount of trees are exactly what Astro enjoys.” Astro was unresponsive to several follow up questions, but also seemed fairly happy to be at the reservoir. We couldn’t agree more.

For more info on the reservoir, please visit This link below also has some great pictures of the reservoir including its pre-construction, development and early years.

Pros –Mile markers, great surface, wonderful views, partially shaded and very natural. We also love the visitors center with its ski lodge-like fireplace. The Environmental Center is a great place to go especially if you have any RunJersey youngsters. Good people; both staff & park-goers.

Cons–A lot of …umm…dog waste on the trails. There is even some from horses too. No water fountains, despite being surrounded by water.

Facts–The 770 acre reservoir is part of a 1200 acre site. The park hours are: 6AM–dusk from April through October. From November 1 through the end of March, the hours switch to 7AM- dusk.

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Charlie Hoffmann

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