Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve – Cape May Court House, Cape May County, NJ
Distance – Listed as 3 miles of trails. We did an outside loop of most of the Yellow Trail plus all of the Blue Trail, which came in at 3.1 miles on my GPS.
Type – Two connected loops
Difficulty: 3 of 10 – a few wet spots (probably okay for strollers with big wheels)
Total score: 8 of 10
Website – The Nature Conservancy
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Forest and swamps
Trailheads – 39° 7’17.07″N, 74°49’13.48″W
Directions – 460 Court House-South Dennis Road, Cape May Court House, New Jersey 08210
Parking – Small, oddly shaped lot. Park out of the way as best you can!
Benches – None
Dog friendly – Unsure
Bathrooms/changing tables/etc – None
Stroller friendly – muddy in spots, would need big wheels
Markings – Well marked with blazes and posts.
Map -A map can be found at the Nature Conservancy website
Description – Back in November, The Wife, Tree Rider, The Pres, and I stopped here to hike, but the preserve was sadly closed for hunting.
However, we returned the last weekend of February, in force – six adults and two kids – to enjoy the sunny weather and low 40 degree temperatures.
We parked in the lot (weird, weird lot), walked in to see the large posting board in a little plaza type area, then opted to head up the Yellow Trail first. We entered the woods, walked a short distance, and then turned left onto the loop section of the Yellow Trail.
The first part of the trail here was a little wilder and a little muddier. We really needed to pay attention to the trail blazes, as the pathway wasn’t always 100% apparent. We also needed to watch our feet, as this section had some fairly muddy spots at first.
As we neared the stream, we discovered our first wonder of the day – a tree with a gigantic lump on the bottom of the trunk. One of our loyal readers on Facebook said that he thought that this was caused by bugs. Whatever it’s caused by, it’s odd!
The mud soon died down and we crossed the first of many little bridges in this park. And loyal readers of this blog know what a sucker I am for little bridges.
After the bridge, the trails quickly became drier and more well defined, lots of clear pathways through the woods. There was one section where many fallen trees had been neatly sliced to allow hikers a straight path through the woods.
We then entered a section of forest that was more widespread, allowing a lot of light in (all the more light for this being February, and the trees being leaf-less). At the edge of this section, we entered an evergreen section. The dramatic and instant change between tree types was beautiful, the picture doesn’t really do it justice.
From here, it wasn’t long until the trail looped around to where the Blue Trail and Yellow Trail intersect with each other.
At this point, we had the option of continuing on the Yellow Trail straight back to the parking lot, or taking a slightly more meandering path down the Blue Trail and coming out at pretty much the exact same spot (that little plaza area that we started at). We opted for the Blue Trail, because it was such a nice day.
Overall, the Blue Trail was pretty similar to the Yellow Trial – nice patches of woods, a few tiny meadow areas, and a few tiny bridges.
Toward the end, we came to a pair of larger, solidly constructed bridges.
The trail then neared the road to the point that we could head car noise. It curved to parallel the road, then popped out on the side of the little plaza that we’d started on.
At this point, we took goofy pictures at the sign, jumped in the cars, and moved on to the high-minded cultural experiences we had planned for the rest of our day (by which I mean, looking at old toys in an antique shop, eating Manco & Manco Pizza, and watching a terrible movie back in Ocean City).
Thanks to Pat, Jenny, Skunk, and Abby for coming along on the adventure! Thanks to Skunk for many of these pictures!
Nearby – Not far from Cape May National Wildlife Refuge’s Cedar Swamp Trail or their Songbird Trail
Beautiful cedar, pretty little bridges, and some great views of pine stands.
A few wet spots.
The growth on the tree is probably crown gall caused by a kind of bacteria called Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Normally this type of bacteria is saprophytic but sometimes can be pathogenic and cause tumors and lesions in woody plants.
We did the blue trail today and the total distance (walking back on the yellow trail to get to the car) was 1.8 miles. So be warned that it is actually longer than advertised!