Gillette, New Jersey

Hike Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

2 Miles Total - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Darren Erbe

Abundant wildlife. Great for bird watching. Easy-access trails (up to 9 miles). The Raptor Trust.

Nestled within the more urban and suburban communities in Northern New Jersey, you can escape back to nature at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The name says it all - this place is the perfect opportunity to get up close to a variety of different wildlife that call this protected land home. Commonly seen animals include fox, deer, muskrat, turtles, fish, and frogs. There are also more than 244 species of birds that feed and nest within the wildlife refuge, making the park popular among bird enthusiasts.

As for the trails, there a several separate trails (totaling around 9 miles) in the park that do not interconnect to each other, so having a car or bicycle may be required if you plan on doing multiple trails. Accessing a trail map online or picking up a copy upon your arrival will certainly help you determine your route. The trails themselves wind through both woodlands and wetlands, so remember to bring proper footwear.

THE TRAILS
The best starting pointing would be in the center of the park, at the Wildlife Observation Center. From here you'll find the only boardwalk paths in the park, which are also handicap-accessible. The roughly 2 miles of trails at this location will take you to three different bird blinds, giving you a unique perspective into this unique environment.

The other two groups of non-looping trails can be accessed at either end of their respective trails, with additional parking at each trailhead location. These sets of trails do not have any boardwalks so they are often muddy, but offer a nice leisurely hike with an opportunity to see many of the park's native wildlife.

THE RAPTOR TRUST
One of the coolest aspects of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is the Raptor Trust, found on White Bridge Rd within the park. This nonprofit is one of the premier wild bird rehabilitation centers in the United States, and allows you to get up close to a variety of birds of prey. They are open seven days a week, and it's free to visit (although a small donation is encouraged since the Raptor Trust is operated solely by private contributions.)

For operating hours and more information, visit their website.

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Beautiful and serene

I go with my two kids, 4 and 1, sometimes with stroller, sometimes with the baby carrier, sometimes we all just hoof it. Awesome every time!

Beautiful Hike!

Love love loved every minute of this hike. Very lively with chipmunks, birds, and a few snakes. My first time visiting while the foliage was starting. So many beautiful colors. Would definitely visit again.

Amazing

So many different terrains and views. Great experience.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Staten Island, New York

Camp Gateway Staten Island

Overview This campground boasts a spectacular view of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the longest vehicle suspension span in the United States. When it opened in 1964, it was the longest span in the...

Sparta Township, New Jersey

Camp Lake Grinnell

Campsite on secluded property and an extremely short walk to the lake where you can kayak (bring your own). There are horses on the property nearby and we own a restaurant where you are welcome to ...

From $130/night

Franklin, New Jersey

Camp Sparta

Amazing site in the heart of Sparta, NJ. The perfect, easy, camping getaway for all, and all you have to bring are cozy blankets and yummy food. Fishing, swimming and kayaking( bring your own) a...

From $100/night

Brooklyn, New York

Outsite // NYC

The loft has 7 bedrooms, rustic exposed brick, high beam ceilings, unique hardwood floors, and high-end designer finishes. All bedrooms have large windows, large closets and bathrooms include glass...

From $72/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike Black River County Park

    From the parking lot head to the Black River Trail (blue blazes). Head toward Kay's Cottage, where after 1.5 miles, you can choose to take a quick detour out to the ruins (adds roughly 1 mile roundtrip to the hike). From here continue on the trail...

  • Hike Hacklebarney State Park's Trout Brook Riverbanks

    This is a relatively easy hike through Hacklebarney State Park that is great for families with younger children, rock scrambling, photography, and just hanging out in nature. There are two different ways to explore Hacklebarney, either by staying ...

  • Hike Pyramid Mountain to Tripod Rock

    This is a fun hike that is great for the entire family. The trails are really well maintained and Tripod Rock is a pretty amazing feature to check out. You can hike to the rock and follow your steps back to the parking lot for a 3 mile round trip ...

  • Hike at Mills Reservation

    Mills Reservation is over 150 acres of wooded area located off of Normal Ave. near the Cedar Grove reservoir. Parking space is limited due to the small size but there is another hidden lot towards the back if you make a right out of the parking lo...

    2 miles 200 ft gain