Huge meadow, lots of birds, views over the marshlands, small cemetery.
Bugs big enough to carry you away.
Grassland Trail, Wetlands Pond Loop Trail, and Forest Habitat Trail – Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge – Pennsville, Salem County, NJ
Note: I haven’t hiked the Forest Habitat Trail yet because it was nap time, but I’ll include the info that I have. We’ll be back soon!
Distance: Grassland Trail – 1.25 miles round trip, Wetlands Pond Loop – 0.33 miles round trip, Forest Habitat Trail – 0.75 miles
Type: Grassland Trail is a lollipop, Wetlands Pond Trail is an out and back, Forest Habitat is a lollipop.
Difficulty: 2 of 10 – wear bug spray! The flies will carry you away!
Terrain – Meadows, marsh, and wetlands
Trailheads – Grassland Trail and Wetlands Pond Trail – 39° 36.882’N, 75° 31.713’W. I believe the Forest Habitat Trailhead is at 39° 37.631’N, 75° 31.644’W
Directions – 197 Lighthouse Rd, Pennsville Township, NJ 08070 – this will take you to the information center, which is open just a few hours a month. Trail maps are available by the door. The Grasslands Trail is just up Lighthouse Road. The Forest Habitat Trail is somewhere off of Fort Mott Road near Christmas Tree Road, but I didn’t find it yet.
Parking – Grassland and Wetlands Pond Loop share a large parking lot. No lot at Forest Habitat Trail, assuming side the road parking, but haven’t been there yet.
Markings – None, but the trail is wide and well cleared.
Stopped off on our way home from Delaware to check out these two trails. I’ve been to this area many times over the last decade, either to visit Fort Mott or during the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge to climb the Finns Point Lighthouse, but I’d never heard of these trails until I stumbled across them online while waiting to pull the car out that morning. It’s kinda on the way home, so why not?
The Wife and I arrived, got The Pres and Adorable-Nickname-Pending, and hit the trail. We did the Wetlands Pond Trail first, but the beginning of this and the Grasslands Trail overlap, starting at the same trailhead. Follow the Trail into the woods. When it splits, go right to get onto the Wetlands Pond Trail. This is a really short 0.15 mile walk through the trees before you hit a small deck/observation area. Stop and check out the pond to see what sort of birds are hanging around. When you’ve had your fill, you can turn around and head back, this trail is already done.
Back at the intersection, head the other way to take the Grasslands Trail. This will wind a short way in the cool cover of the trees before exiting onto the old NWR Headquarters Road. Turn right, and you’ll immediately see an old graveyard where smallbox victims of the Dunham and Fowler families are buried. Continue up this road and the trail will leave the road on the left side.
Trail the other way.
For the next quarter mile or so, you’ll be walking down a mowed path in the meadow. There is forest to your left and the meadow to your right. We saw some dragonflies and butterflies, as well as a few birds in this stretch. Deer and other animals are possible. When you come to the next trail intersection you can go straight or right. Either one will meet back at the same place, but left is slightly further (maybe an extra 100 yards).
When the trails intersect next in the middle of the field, you’ll hang a straight or a right (depending on where you came from) and almost immediately hit the side trail for the blind. Go see if there are any animals or birds out today that you can observe.
Back on the trail, you’ll hit the road almost immediately. Cross over to continue on the trail. This will be a short loop through some much higher trees and brush, back around to the road. You’ll the continue on the road until you hit trail intersection, where you’ll again do a little loop to the left before getting back to the road. This last little loop was the only place the bugs really got to us. The Pres and I ended up running to avoid the flies, although neither of us received any fly bites. Not as much to see on these little loops, but we heard a lot of birds above and around us.
When you hit the road again, you’ll be back where you first left the road almost a mile ago. Head back toward the little cemetery, then turn left and backtrack until you reach the parking lot.
Nearby – Fort Mott State Park, Pea Patch Island (ferry required), Finns Point Lighthouse, Finn’s Point Cemetery (lots of Civil War grave sites from the nearby prison on Pea Patch Island, plus a few Nazis for good measure). This is also an area that had early settlements of Finnish and Swedish settlers.