On The Wild Side
Take a walk with local wildlife
By Mary Lou Sheffield

Now’s the perfect time to get outside and spend an afternoon taking in all the incredible sites South Jersey has to offer. You may be surprised to know how many beautiful nature reserves and incredible wildlife are simply a drive away. 

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
800 Great Creek Road, Oceanville
fws.gov

This wildlife refuge is nothing short of a birdwatcher’s paradise. Since it’s located right in the middle of seasonal bird migration paths, the 48,000-acre coastal habitat is a stop for tens of thousands of birds, like piping plovers, osprey and purple martins. A hike on one of the many trails passes coastal wetlands, freshwater ponds, early successional fields and woodlands. With thousands of acres of beautiful marsh land, as well as stunning views of the Atlantic City skyline, Edward B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge offers a little something for everyone. The park is open from dawn until dusk.

Why you should visit: The most popular place to view wildlife at the refuge is Wildlife Drive, an 8-mile, one-way, unpaved road that leads you through wetlands and woodlands. You can spot spectacular groups of migratory water birds in the spring, and the 2 observation towers and pool overlook have spotting scopes so you can get an up-close look. 

 

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
4 Sawmill Road, Medford
cedarrun.org

Though Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge boasts a 171-acre wooded area around a pristine lake, what’s really special about this place is the animals. Every year, thousands of wild animals are treated at the refuge’s rehabilitation hospital, and resident animals live in the outdoor wildlife housing area. Learn about wildlife in the latest exhibit, hike the one-mile trail around Cedar Lake or stop by the reptile room. The Nature Center is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is $10 for adults and kids 13 years of age and older; $5 for children ages 4 to 12; children younger than 3 are free. 

Why you should visit: In addition to the 171-acre wooded area around a pristine lake, the refuge’s resident wildlife offers an up-close-and-personal experience you won’t find anywhere else in South Jersey. From Ember the red fox to Nazar the Eastern screech owl, the residents of the refuge are on display to help educate visitors (and look cute doing it).

 

Wetlands Institute
Stone Harbor
wetlandsinstitute.org

Nowhere else can you touch a horseshoe crab, see one of the world’s largest colonies of laughing gulls, climb an observation tower and hike a salt marsh trail all in one day. With a mission to preserve the coastal ecosystem and educate visitors, The Wetlands Institute combines family-friendly fun (Turtle Fest anyone?) with awe-inspiring views of the surrounding wetlands along an elevated marsh walkway. Admission is $8 for adults and kids 13 years of age and older; $6 for children 3-12; children under 3 and members are free.

Why you should visit: Everything at this hands-on attraction combines education and entertainment, all year long. Before you head inside, stroll through the award-winning gardens full of hundreds of native plants. During warmer months, you can also head out on the water for back-bay birding and wildlife tours, kayaking and paddle boarding.

 

Palmyra Cove Nature Park
Palmyra
palmyracove.org

It’s hard to believe that this 250-acre oasis was once a dump – literally. Now managed by the Burlington County Bridge Commission, the sprawling nature preserve has diverse ecosystems ranging from wetlands and tidal pools to woodlands and meadows that are teeming with wildlife. Whether you’re fishing or taking a hike, you’re likely to spot families of raccoons, falcons, white-tailed deer and dragonflies. The Environmental STEM Center also provides hands-on activities to learn about planet Earth. There is no admission cost. The park is open from dusk to dawn. The STEM Center is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm.

Why you should visit: Learning about wildlife has never been easier. From family nature walks to hikes guided by naturalists, Palmyra Cove Nature Park has something fun – and educational – for the entire family.

 

Black Run Preserve
Evesham Twp.
blackrun.org

Who knew you could find a remarkably quiet and peaceful retreat just off Route 73? Located between the Marlton Lakes and Kings Grant neighborhoods, the 1,300 acre Black Run Preserve is an ecological wonder of Pine Barrens forests, wetlands, streams and old cranberry bogs. The preserved tract is also home to a variety of threatened and endangered plant and animal species like red-shouldered hawks and Eastern box turtles. There is no admission cost. The park is open from dawn until dusk.

Why you should visit: The 1,300-acre Black Run Preserve is an ecological wonder of Pine Barrens forests, wetlands, streams and old cranberry bogs. Surrounded completely by development, the preserve serves as a reminder of what South Jersey looked like before it was developed and is the perfect place to explore when you need to escape from the hustle and bustle.  

November 2023
Related Articles
Comments

Comments are closed.

The Battle Against Blight Continues | THE GOAL IS TO BECOME A GARDENER

Get SJ Mag in Your Inbox

Subscribe for the latest on South Jersey dining, weekend entertainment, the Shore and much more - sent directly to your inbox.

* indicates required
Email Format
WATCH NOW: Millennials looking for Mentors
Advertisement