Dunes Trail & Marsh Trail – Two Mile Beach Unit – Cape May National Wildlife Refuge – Wildwood Crest (Lower Township), Cape May County, NJ
Distance: Dunes Trail (0.9 miles one way, 1.8 miles round trip) and Marsh Trail (0.1 miles one way, 0.2 miles round trip)
Type: Each is an out and back
Difficulty: 3 of 10 – sand can be hard to walk in. Marsh trail is a 1 of 10.
Terrain – sand dunes and beach (Dunes Trail), salt marsh (Marsh Trail)
Trailheads – 38° 57.169’N, 74° 51.418’W (parking lot for either trail) or 38° 57.256’N, 74° 51.032’W (beach access for Dunes Trail)
Directions: Located on USCG Entrance Road, just off Pacific Ave, in Wildwood Crest. Look out for the large, fake lighthouse.
Parking – Large lot in refuge. Can’t speak for parking near the beachfront entrance.
Standouts – Dunes and birds (Dunes Trail). Didn’t have a chance to hike the Marsh Trail, but they have a bird blind.
Markings – Follow the brown hiker signs
Description: So the family went down to Wildwood for a few days of sun, surf, and boardwalk fun. We were in town anyway, so on our way home, we stopped at the Cape May Wildlife Refuge Two Mile Beach unit right at the edge of Wildwood Crest to get a hike in and work off some of the boardwalk junk food. Our goal for the day: The Dunes Trail.
This trail heads into some high protective dunes, down to the beach where birds nest. The trail starts solidly underfoot with a wall of plant life on either side.
The trail opens up some, before getting really narrow with loose, sandy footing underneath.
Be very careful to stay ON THE TRAIL! This is a wildlife preserve, wandering off into the dunes can lead to destruction of important bird type habitats. Eventually, you’ll start scaling the dunes themselves, gaining a view of the beach.
Once you gain a view of the beach, you’ll head left along the top of the dunes (the beach is closed most of the year for nesting), reaching the exit at the public beach in “the Crest”. Time to turn around and head back to where you started.
From where you stared, the trail continues down the road, then another 0.4 of a mile (one way) through to another part of the beach. The Pres was falling asleep on his feet, so we called it a day without completing the part.
Additionally, the ridiculously short 0.1 Marsh Trail leaves from the same parking lot, heading down a boardwalk to a bird blind.
Make sure to visit the Visitor’s Center just around the corner.
Nearby: The world famous Wildwood Boardwalk, a bazillion miles of gorgeous beaches, the Cape May Lighthouse, the WWII bunker and tower, some really old hotels in Cape May, and Sunset Beach with the famous Cape May diamonds and the concrete ship.
Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/customer/www/southjerseytrails.org/public_html/wp-content/themes/engine/functions/reviews.php on line 338
Dunes and birds (Dunes Trail). Didn't have a chance to hike the Marsh Trail, but they have a bird blind.
Looks pretty interesting; I think I’ve heard of this one, but haven’t been down that way in quite some time. I have been to Cape May Point State Park…almost 10 years to the day! I agree — if the trails aren’t enough, there’s indeed “bazillions” of miles of beautiful beach to explore!
One suggestion I would make if you are in that area again. In North Wildwood is the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse. No hiking trails (per se), but there are some paths that wind through some beautiful gardens…sort of nice to do before or after a walk. I believe there’s lighthouse tours too, but I didn’t try that out. Actually, there’s access to a cement “boardwalk” behind the lighthouse that runs along the beach a little. Technically, you’re only supposed to use the parking lot at Hereford Inlet to visit the lighthouse only, but I sort of “snuck” onto the cement path for a bit! 🙂
Anyway — great job (as always) with the pix & descriptions! Happy hiking!
Thanks Jim! I totally forgot about Hereford Inlet Lighthouse. Yes, you can tour and climb it. Next time I’m there I’ll have to check out the path down to the beach.