The boardwalk connecting mainland Jefferson to Liffy Island on Lake Hopatcong is nearly complete, with progress noticeable in the recent addition of handrails. Liffy Island was the first land protected through the Open Space and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund created by Morris County freeholders through a referendum in 1992.
“Lake Hopatcong is New Jersey’s largest lake and Liffy Island the largest undeveloped land of any consequence on the lake,” according to former township administrator James Leach. Leach and former mayor Russ Felter secured hundreds of acres of open space in Jefferson during their 20-year tenure.
Hikers can reach Liffy Island, a former Boy Scout camp, via the “James Leach Boardwalk Trail.” Felter honored Leach for his years of work on the project in a proclamation naming him Citizen of the Year in 2017.
The trail is accessible from two points. An entrance on Brady Road behind the Prospect Point Park basketball court leads to two trails created with assistance from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation through a $15,000 grant, according to Leach. One offers a leisurely stroll on a stone path, while the other is more rustic with some challenging hills. The second trail entrance is from Prospect Point Road near Northwood Road, with parking space across the street.
Both access points take hikers to a new boardwalk that crosses over to Liffy Island. Paddlers can also access the island. Depending on the water level, kayaks and small boats can pass safely under the boardwalk, which is five feet from the ground.
A pile of large rocks on the Liffy Island side of the boardwalk currently presents a challenge for exiting from the bridge onto the island. According to mayor Eric Wilsusen, that section is still in progress. In addition, the next phase of the project will clear the primitive island paths. Nevertheless, residents are welcome to use the boardwalk and explore the island now.
The Morris County freeholders are planning an opening celebration, tentatively set for October 18, said Wilsusen.
Stay up to date on Liffy Island’s progress through The Jefferson Chronicle online (www.thejeffersonchronicle.com) or the monthly TJC DIGEST print magazine. To learn more about the history of Liffy Island, visit www.lakehopatconghistory.com.