CAPE MAY COUNTY
Belleplain State Forest
Belleplain State Forest was established in 1928 for recreation, timber production, wildlife management, and conservation of water supplies. The forest stand includes pine, oak, and Atlantic white cedar. Demonstrations of reforestation are conducted to study the production of forest-related crops and the conservation of forest resources. Recreational activities include picnicing, boating, camping, hunting and fishing, swimming, and hiking over 40 miles of trails. The staff also conducts seasonal interpretive programs.
Directions: From state roads 47 or 347, turn east on county road 550 through the community of Belleplain. The main entrance is halfway between the communities of Belleplain and Woodbine. From the Garden State Parkway, take exit 17 and follow US9 north to the intersection with CR550. Follow CR550 and the Forest signs west through Woodbine.
Hours: The area is open from dawn to dusk. The lake is open for swimming from 10:00am to 6:00pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Fees: A recreation use fee is charged for camping and picnicking.
Telephone: (609) 861-2404
Cape May Bird Observatory
Administered by the New Jersey Audubon Society, the Cape May Bird Observatory is dedicated to perpetuating and preserving the ornithological significance and natural history of the Cape May area. CMBO offers year-round bird and butterfly watching walks, programs, and workshops. CMBO’s Center for Research and Education in Goshen has a classroom, full nature bookstore, wildlife art gallery, extensive natural history information, trails, and bird feeding station. A “Model Backyard Habitat” serves as an outdoor classroom for visitors interested in learning how to attract and garden for wildlife, including butterflies and hummingbirds.
Directions: Follow state road 47 south from Dennisville. The center is located on the east side of SR47, just south of the intersection at CR657.
Hours: The center is open daily from 9:00am to 4:30pm.
Telephone: (609) 861-0700
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
Established in January of 1989, Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is one of the newest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge provides critical habitat for migratory birds and wildlife. It supports 317 bird species, 55 reptile and amphibian species, 42 mammals, and numerous fish, shellfish, and invertebrates. The refuge has upland and lowland forests, fields, sandy beach, salt marshes, tidal creeks, and ponds. Several foot trails provide excellent opportunities for birding, nature photography, and environmental education.
Directions: Go west from exit 10 of the Garden State Parkway at Cape May Courthouse, then turn south on US9. Turn west (right) on county road 658 (Hand Avenue.) Turn south on SR47, then immediately west onto Kimbles Beach Rd. The entrance to the office is on the left.
Hours: The office is open weekdays from 8:00am to 4:30pm. The refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Telephone: (609) 463-0994
Dennis Creek Wildlife Management Area(Jake’s Landing)
The vast expanse of marsh grass is a striking view. Several tidal creeks and drainage canals traverse this area providing channels for marine fish to spawn. The northern harrier can be seen silently gliding low over the marshes in search of food for its young. Often the egrets and herons shuffle through the musty waters in search of food. Muskrats busily gather marsh grasses and reeds to construct their domed lodges where they may seek refuge from the weather and predators. Dennis Creek has an observation platform and a boat launch for small craft and canoes to explore the marshes.
Directions: Follow state roads 55 & 47 south from Millville to the community of North Dennis. Watch for the intersection of CR557. Travel 0.3 miles further south on SR47 to Jake’s Landing Road. Turn west (right) on Jake’s Landing Road, and follow it to the end - approximately 1.5 miles to the parking lot, boat ramp, and Dennis Creek.
Hours: This unstaffed area is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Telephone: NJ Division of Fish &Wildlife (856) 629-0090.
Dennis Township Wetland Restoration Site
This 560-acre site was diked in the 1950s to exclude tidal flow from the Delaware Bay for salt hay farming. Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) purchased the property in 1994 as part of a program to help increase fish productivity. PSE&G modified 365 acres of the site in 1996 by creating a network of channels and inlets to restore normal tidal flow and the growth of desirable marsh plants. The site now provides important habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. Bring your binoculars and explore the salt marsh via the nature trail. A floating observation platform allows you to experience a mudflat at low tide and the center of a tidal creek at high tide.
Directions: Follow state road 47 north from Dennisville. Turn west (left) at the traffic light with the intersection of SR347, and follow it approximately 2.2 miles to Eldora. Turn south (left) onto Stipson’s Island Road, and follow it to the end.
Hours: This unstaffed area is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Telephone: 1-888-MARSHES (888-627-7437)
Eldora Nature Preserve
The home of renowned entomologist Dr. C. Brooke Worth is now located on The Nature Conservancy’s Eldora Nature Preserve. Here, you will also find the Conservancy’s Delaware Bayshores Office, interpretive exhibits, several aquariums, a display of local moths and butterflies, a gift shop, butterfly garden, and a hummingbird garden. A nature trail leads through woodlands on the way to the marsh.
Eldora Nature Preserve is the first preserve established by The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey for the conservation of insects, particularly moths and butterflies. A fenced area protects the red chokeberry, a host plant for rare moths. Songbirds and hawks are often seen among the adjacent fields and forest.
Directions: From the end of state road 55 south at the traffic light, continue on state road 47 for 10.5 miles. The Preserve entrance is the first building on the left after entering Cape May County.
Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk.
Telephone: (609) 861-0600.