Exploring Cape May’s National Wildlife Preserve. The best nature walks in Cape May.
Most people think of Cape May as an idyllic seaside village with beautiful beaches, boardwalks, and eye-catching Victorian homes. They may even think of award-winning restaurants, specialty shops, and exciting seasonal events. What most people don’t think of are wildlife and nature walks, but that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this post.
The Cape May Wildlife Refuge
The Cape May Wildlife Refuge was established by the US Fish and Wildlife Service over 30 years ago. The park is comprised of diverse habitats with several ecosystems for hikers to enjoy. There are three divisions in the refuge with walking trails along salt marshes, hardwood swamps, bogs, grasslands and forested uplands. The divisions are:
Great Cedar Swamp Division
- Cedar Swamp Trail – 1-mile loop
Delaware Bay Division
- Songbird Trail – 1.1-mile loop
- Woodcock Trail – 1.2-mile loop
Two Mile Beach Division
- Dune Trail – 0.8 miles out and back
- Marsh Trail – 0.2 miles out and back
Great Cedar Swamp Division | Cedar Swamp Trail
Cedar Swamp Trail begins as a mowed grass path and continues through a new growth forest. The trail is swampy with lots of bogs and – surprise – beautiful cedars. It’s a quiet walk and there aren’t a lot of tall trees. Great for taking in a big open sky.
Delaware Bay Division | Songbird and Woodcock Trails
Songbird trail (suitably named) is packed with tall deciduous trees that are home to a number of different bird species. Many birds call this area home such as the red-bellied woodpeckers and tufted titmouse. You’re likely to see these and many more. The trail is alive with the sound of…birds!
Woodcock Trail is also situated adjacent to Delaware Bay. Here you’ll find lots of very tall trees and vernal pools on both sides of the trail. Fallen leaves make the path especially quiet and a good place to watch for wildlife. Blue herons are known to frequent this area as are pine warblers.
Two Mile Beach Division | Dune Trail and Marsh Trail
Dune Trail is a short out-and-back along the beach. It’s a lovely walk through underdeveloped coastal forest. Much of the surrounding area is closed to visitors to preserve habitat for piping plovers and oystercatchers that breed here. A scenic and peaceful path.
Marsh Trail begins on a boardwalk that leads past a saltmarsh to an observation area and tidal pond. Here, American Black Ducks share the inlet with Northern Pintails. There’s a bird blind perfect for viewing the antics of the waterfowl without disturbing them.
Support Plans to Double Refuge Acreage
Cape May is one of the top birding destinations in the United States and home to more than 300 species. The Refuge is also home to 42 species of mammal and 55 species of reptile. Learn more and support efforts to double the refuge in size to more than 20,000 acres.
Try these nature walks and more on your next visit to Cape May. At The Queen Victoria, we’re happy to help you navigate Cape May National Wildlife Refuge with tips and suggestions for your hike. Just visit the front desk.