Explore the Shore
6 state parks you should visit
By Mary Lou Sheffield

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Galloway

Think the only place to go down the Shore is the beach? Think again! SJ’s Shore towns offer plenty of parks and forests where you can get an up-close look at local wildlife while taking in a little history. (You’ll also get some great exercise.) So grab a map, binoculars and your sneakers, and start exploring the Shore. 


Warren E. Fox Nature Center

Estell Manor Park
109 State Highway 50, Mays Landing
Park Hours: 7:30 am until ½ hour after sunset

A visit to Estell Manor Park will take you back in time as you explore ruins of SJ’s past, including the site of an old Native American village, a 19th-century cemetery, Estellville Glassworks and a World War I munitions plant. The park’s 1,700 acres are also home to 20 miles of hiking trails and Warren E. Fox Nature Center, which offers orienteering classes for hikers of any experience level.

In addition to campsites, picnic areas and sports fields, you’ll also find docks at Steven’s Creek or the South River for fishing or kayaking. Stop by the nature center from 8 am to 4 pm to pick up maps. Borrow bikes, roller skates, compasses, soccer balls and volleyballs for free at the nature center.

Cap May Point State Park

Cape May Point State Park
303 County Hwy 629, Cape May
Park Hours: 8 am to 8 pm

Before you hike through Cape May Point State Park’s 244 acres of meadows, ponds dunes and beach, scope out your trail from the top of its lighthouse (which was built in 1859 and is still operational). After climbing the 199 steps, take in the view of the surrounding Cape May peninsula. There is a fee to enter the lighthouse, but roaming the park is free. Nature lovers can watch hawks, sea birds and dragonflies. Monarch butterflies also migrate through the park at certain times of the year, and horseshoe crabs use the park’s beaches to come ashore and lay their eggs.

If you’re a history buff, head to the beach to see the remains of a bunker from World War II. The bunker was built in 1942, when the entire park was used as a military base. At low tide, you can see the turrets where guns were once poised to hold off enemy attacks.

Island Beach State Park
Central and 24th Avenues, Seaside Park
Park Hours: 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays;
7 am to 8 pm on weekends through Labor Da

While Island Beach State Park boasts nearly 10 miles of sandy beach, it’s also a diverse habitat with dense maritime forests, rolling sand dunes and tidal marshes that are home to hundreds of animal and plant species. 

Take a guided kayak tour or attend a historical lecture to learn more about the park. Birding expeditions are popular here too, as Island Beach is home to the state’s largest osprey colony.

Island Beach is also a hotspot for fishing – surf fishers and underwater spear fishers are frequent sights on the shoreline. Horseback riders are allowed on the beach from October to April. Scuba divers, sailboarders, surfers and hikers are also welcome in the park. 

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
800 Great Creek Road, Galloway
Park Hours: Dawn until dusk

This isn’t your typical Boardwalk stroll – the Leeds Eco-Trail at this Galloway wildlife refuge takes you over thousands of acres of salt marsh, where you’ll see osprey nests. But ospreys aren’t the only bird you’ll see. The 47,000 acres provide shelter and food for fowl such as the rare Atlantic brant, the piping plover and the American black duck. Explore the refuge’s 5 trails to see how many birds you can spot – along with deer, wild turkey, muskrats and otters. 

You can also get involved at the refuge as a volunteer. Tasks include leading tours, conducting wildlife population surveys, planting and other special projects. 

Belleplain State Forest
1 Henkinsifkin Road, Woodbine
Park Hours: 8 am – 8 pm

Try hiking, biking or horseback riding on the 40 acres of nature trails that wind beneath the forest’s towering pine, oak and Atlantic white cedar trees. At Lake Nummy, you can go swimming, fishing or boating. The 20,000-acre nature reserve also features playgrounds, sports fields plus 169 tent and trailer sites for overnight stays.

Corson’s Inlet
5898 Bay Avenue, Ocean City
Park Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

This is a great spot to walk along the undeveloped beachfront and sand dunes that serve as a proteded nesting site for shorebirds and waterfowl. Dogs are not allowed during the summer, and swimming is never allowed. You can go fishing, boating, paddle boarding – the boat ramp is open 7 days a week, year round.  


August 2023
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