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Cape May & Absecon Regions

"For if one link in the nature's chain might be lost, another might be lost, until the whole of Thomas Jefferson

The Cape May is the southern tip of Cape may County and the eastern edge of Cape May County. It runs as far north as Ocean City.  That makes it about 36 miles from one end of the region to the other.

The Absecon Region is in Atlantic County. It runs from Somers Point in the south to the southern most point of Burlington County. That makes it about  20 miles from one end of the region to the other.

Regional Welcome Center Maritime History theme destination
Level I sites Coastal Habitats theme destination
Level II sites Wildlife Migration theme destination
Points of Interest New Jersey Watchable Wildlife Site

Other things to do in the region

Cape May Region

Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area (MacNamara) 
The scenic Tuckahoe River winds its way to the Great Egg Harbor River and Bay through an expanse of salt marsh and tidal creeks, that is excellent for bird watching. Six brackish water impoundments on the upland edges of the tract also provide good bird-watching opportunities. Located on the edge of the Pine Barrens, the woodlands bordering the salt marsh are a mixture of pine and oak trees. A hardwood swamp and small freshwater lake provide additional habitat for beaver, turtles, frogs, and fish. 

An 8-mile loop drive provides opportunities for exploring these dynamic habitats. 

Directions: From the junction of US route 9 and state road 50 in Seaville, take SR50 north for 4.8 miles to CR631. Turn right, and travel 0.3 miles to the entrance on the left. Turn left onto the sand and gravel road, and travel 0.5 mile to the office on the right. Stop at the office for information and maps. 
Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk. 
Telephone: NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife (609) 628-2103.

Corson's Inlet State Park 
Established in the late 1960s, Corson's Inlet State Park is one of the few undisturbed stretches of Atlantic coastline left between Atlantic City and Cape May. Enjoy the beach and coastal dune trails. Look for remnants of marine life washed up on the beach, and watch for beach nesting birds in the spring and summer: piping plovers, black skimmers, and least terns. Migrations of dolphins, ducks, geese, and monarch butterflies also pass through this area every year. 

Sport fishing, boating, sun bathing, photography, and hiking are seasonal activities available here. Guided beach walks occur twice each week from the late spring to early fall. 

Directions: From exit 25 of the Garden State Parkway, turn east onto county road 623 (Roosevelt Blvd), and follow it into Ocean City. Then turn south onto West Avenue and follow it to 55th St. Turn south (right) onto CR619 (Ocean Highway). The main parking area for Corson's Inlet is on the left at the north end of Rush Chattin Bridge. 
Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk. 
Telephone: (609) 861-2404 (Belleplain State Forest).

Cape May Region Welcome Center 
Ocean View Service Area, Garden State Parkway 

This is a full service welcome center operated by the New Jersey Office of Travel and Tourism. It is fully accessible and includes the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce with information about regional lodging and points of interest. 

New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route exhibits include an audiovisual orientation program and exhibits that focus on the Trail's Relaxation & Inspiration interpretive theme. Brochures about the Trail are also available. 

Directions: The welcome center is located at the Ocean View Service Area of the Garden State Parkway at milepost 18.3. 
Hours: The information center operates daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm, except Wednesday (9:00- 4:30). It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. 
Telephone: (609) 624-0918. 

The Wetlands Institute 
Located near Stone Harbor, The Wetlands Institute is situated on 6,000 acres of coastal wetlands. The marsh, nearby upland, and barrier islands form a living laboratory where visitors can learn about this delicately balanced ecosystem between land and sea. 

The Wetlands Institute features saltwater aquariums, exhibits, an observation tower, nature trails, beautiful butterfly and bird gardens, and guided tours. 

Directions: From exit 1 OB of the Garden State Parkway, take county road 657 east (Stone Harbor Boulevard) toward Stone Harbor. The Institute will be on your right in about 2.75 miles. 
Hours: From May 15th until October 15th, the trails, interpretive center, and store are open from 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Saturday, and from 10:00am to 4:00pm on Sunday. From October 16th to May 14th, they are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30am to 4:30pm. Fees: An admission fee supports the organization's efforts. 
Telephone: (609) 368-1211.

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse 
This "Great Victorian" fourth order lighthouse has guided local mariners along the Jersey Shore since its construction in 1874. It was restored in 1984 by members of the community. This active light-house is the only one of its kind on the east coast and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse is surrounded by cottage style gardens with over 170 plant varieties. these are wildlife-friendly gardens with berry-producing trees and shrubs for hungry birds and flowers attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. the lighthouse serves as an information center and museum. tours are conducted daily throughout the summer. Next door is the old Hereford Inlet Coast Guard Station now occupied by the NJ State Police, Marine Law Enforcement Bureau. 

Directions: The lighthouse is located in North Wildwood on Central Avenue, between First and Chestnut Avenues. Southbound Garden State Parkway traffic can take state road 147 from exit 6 to North Wildwood, 
Hours: The lighthouse is open daily from mid March through late December. The hours are from 9:00am to 6:00pm during the summer season and from 10:00pm to 4:00pm throughout the spring and fall. Call ahead during the remainder of the year for days and hours. There is an admission fee. 
Telephone: (609) 522-4520.

Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge 
Cape May is one of the prime birding areas on the East Coast. Due to its location and mile long beach front. The Nature Conservancy's William D. & Jane C. Blair Jr. Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge is one of Cape May's "hot spots" for birding. During the fall migration, tens of thou- sands of raptors representing more than 15 species can be seen flying over the refuge. Over a million seabirds pass the refuge every autumn. In the spring, thousands of migrating shorebirds, songbirds, and waterfowl pass through this area. It also protects nesting habitat for the endangered least terns and piping plovers. 

Directions: Take the Garden State Parkway south to the end where it joins county road 633 (Lafayette Street) in the City of Cape May. Turn right onto CR606 (West Perry Street.) This will turn into Sunset Blvd. Continue west on CR606 for one mile. The refuge and parking area are on the left just past Bayshore Rd. 
Hours: This site is open daily from dawn to dusk. 
Telephone: (609) 861-0600.

Cape May Point State Park 
The park is a combination of an ever changing shoreline, sand dunes, coastal freshwater marsh and ponds, wooded islands, and varied uplands. It is perhaps best known as a tranquil area where the visitor may find rest and enjoy the beauty of nature. 

Cape May Point is a popular bird-watching site. It is not only a home for many species but also a feeding and resting area for birds migrating south along the Atlantic flyway. Although both spring and fall migrations occur, the fall is the best time to observe songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, sea birds, and birds of prey. Join other bird-watchers on the hawk watch platform. 

Cape May Lighthouse is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It has been an important navigational aid to seagoing mariners since its construction in 1859. 

Picnicking, beach walking, birding, a museum, and museum shop help round out a visit to this site. Free educational programs and guided nature walks are also available from April to November. WWII coastal defense gun emplacements, now battling the elements of erosion and the encroaching sea, can still be seen here. 

Directions: Take county road 606 (Sunset Boulevard) west from Cape May, towards Cape May Point. Follow the signs, and turn south via CR629 (Lighthouse Avenue). 
Hours: The park is open daily from dawn to dusk. Days and hours for the lighthouse vary, but it is generally open between President's Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend. A voice message concerning the hours operation is available by calling (609) 884-5404. Fees: Admission charge for the lighthouse, which is operated by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts. 
Telephone: (609) 884-2159 for the park; (609) 884-5404 for the lighthouse.

Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area 
This one and one-half mile stretch of beach contains the last remnant of coastal dune forest on the bayshore. The inland dunes are more than 20 feet high in some places. A forest of holly, red cedar, and beach plum stabilizes them. Several hundred acres of wooded upland with a dense understory, a freshwater marsh, two freshwater ponds, a hardwood swamp, old farm fields, and a coastal dune forest all provide cover for migratory songbirds, raptors, and butterflies. Higbee Beach is managed specifically to provide habitat for migratory wildlife. Hike the marked dune trail, and view the surrounding landscape and wildlife from three observation platforms. 

Directions: Take the state road 109 west from the exit at the south end of the Garden State Parkway to the junction with US9. Turn left onto US9 (all turns from the right lane), and proceed to the first traffic light. Turn south (left) onto county road 162 (Seashore Rd.). Turn west (right) onto CR641 (New^ England Rd.). Follow CR641 for 2 miles to the end and the beach access parking area. Parking is restricted to the parking lots and may be limited during the summer. Call the number listed for parking information. 
Hours: Open daily from 5:00am to 9:00pm. 
Telephone: NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife (609) 628-2103.

Absecon Region

Senator Frank S. Farley State Marina 
The marina was originally constructed in the late 1950s as a joint effort between the State of New Jersey and the city of Atlantic City to revitalize the pleasure boat industry in the city. In the early 1980s, New Jersey's Division of Parks and Forestry initiated proposals to rehabilitate Parley as it was quickly slipping from its status as the "show place" marina of the East Coast. Budgetary constraints contributed to its further decline and eventually led to an agreement between the State and Trump Castle Associates. Three and one-half years and 30 million dollars later. Trump had demolished the old facility and constructed a new, expanded premier marina. Its 640 slips are capable of berthing boats from under 20 feet to over 300 feet. 

An interpretive exhibit provides information about New Jersey's maritime history and the changing role of marinas.  Historic Gardiner's Basin can be seen in the view south of the marina. 

Directions: As you enter Atlantic City, follow the highway directional signs to Trump Marina Hotel and Casino (located at the intersection of US 30 and Brigantine Boulevard) and Huron Avenue to reach the marina. It is located next to the U.S. Coast Guard Station, Atlantic City. 
Hours: The marina office is open May 15 to June 30 from 7:00am to 10:00pm and July 1 to Labor Day from 7:00am to 2:00am. Hours vary the remainder of the year. 
Telephone: 1 (800) 876-4386.

U. S. Coast Guard Station, Atlantic City 
When constructed in 1941, it was the largest Coast Guard station in existence. With a crew of 44 men and women and five boats, the station handles approximately 450 calls for assistance annually from two locations, Atlantic City and Ocean City. Aid is rendered to distressed boaters as far as thirty miles offshore. Missions include search and rescue, law enforcement, and marine environmental protection. 

The station grounds include a short self-guided interpretive walk with a handout providing information about the station's history and the plant and animal struggle for survival on coastal barrier islands. 

Directions: The station is located at the end of Huron Avenue. As you enter Atlantic City, follow the signs for the Trump Marina Hotel & Casino located adjacent to the intersection of US30 and state road 87 (Brigantine Boulevard.) 
Hours: Open daily from 8:00am to 5:00pm unless the crew is involved in responding to an emergency call. Please note, there is no smoking while at this facility. 
Telephone: (609) 344-6594
Other points of Interest: Absecon Lighthouse

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge 
At this wildlife refuge, more than 40,000 acres of coastal habitat are managed for migratory birds. Almost 90 percent of it is tidal salt meadow and marsh, interspersed with shallow coves and bays. The quiet tidal waters serve as nurseries, spawning, and feeding grounds for fish and shellfish that are important to the diets of many wildlife species. 

Located in one of the Atlantic Flyway's most active flight paths, it is an important link in the network of national wildlife refuges. Here the habitat needs of the American black duck and Atlantic brant are a special concern. Both species depend heavily on New Jersey's remaining coastal habitat for their survival. An eight-mile Wildlife Drive and two short foot trails provide excellent wildlife viewing and photo opportunities. The entrance fee helps to buy additional wetlands for wildlife refuges. 

Directions: From the north, take exit 48 of the Garden State Parkway and follow US9 south. At the third traffic light, turn left onto Great Creek Rd.. and follow it into the refuge. From the south, take the Atlantic City Service Area exit. Follow county road 561 (Jimmie Leeds Rd.) east to the first left fork (Great Creek Rd.), and follow it into the refuge. 
Hours: This site is open daily from dawn to dusk. The headquarters building is open weekdays from 8:00am to 4:00pm. 
Telephone: (609) 652-1665.

Copyright 2001- , Terry Muse 
Revised: October 8, 2001
Contact: Terry Muse
Coastal Heritage Trail