Natural Lands Glades Wildlife Refuge – Dividing Creek (Downe Township), Cumberland County, NJ
Bald Eagle Trail – 1.5 miles round trip listed (1.75 miles round trip by GPS)
Maple Street Trail – 1.4 miles round trip
Warfle Farm Trail – 0.75 miles round trip (listed at 0.5 miles)
Tat Starr Trail – 2 miles round trip
Type – A series of out-and-back trails
Difficulty: 2 of 10 – although this has to go up in the summer, when I’m sure the bugs and the sun might be brutal.
Website – Natural Lands Trust
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – tidal marshland
Surface – Dirt, boardwalk, and hard pack, depending on the trail and section.
Bald Eagle Trail – 39°15’40.79″N, 75° 7’33.15″W
Maple Street Trail – 39°15’44.06″N, 75° 7’24.59″W
Bald Eagle Trail is located on Turkey Point Road in Downe Township, NJ
Maple Street Trail is located where Maple Street and Turkey Point Road intersect
Warfle Farm Trail is located on Turkey Point Road at Hickman Ave
Tat Starr Trail is located on Fortesque Road (Route 637)
A few spots by the side of the road at each trailhead. The Starr Trail had a parking lot, but it was closed off by chains when we were there.
Dog friendly?: Yes, as long as they are leashed, kept out of the water, and cleaned up after.
Stroller friendly? Strollers with good sized wheels would work on the Bald Eagle Trail, Maple St Trail, and most of the other two, but would struggle in places.
Benches?: No benches in the park
Facilities?: No facilities in the park
Markings – No marking on trails, but relatively easy to follow.
Map – The official map can be found here . You can also use their smartphone app “ExploreNaturalLands”
Description – So the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2016, we decided to walk off some of the turkey and the mashed potatoes and the stuffing and the…
Okay, now I’m back after a sandwich.
Anyway, the family and I loaded up into the car and headed deep into Cumberland County to Downe Township, home of the Glades Wildlife Refuge run by the Natural Lands Trust. This refuge hosts a series of four short hiking trails through the marshes, as well as a series of paddling trails. That day, our goal was to explore the hiking trails. We did explore the Bald Eagle Trail and drive down to Turkey Point. Sadly, my wife felt sick at this point in our adventure, and we took her home to rest. Turns out that she was pregnant.
Eleven months (October 2017) and one extra baby later, the Pres and I came back to hike the other three trails.
Bald Eagle Trail – 1.5 miles
We opted to start with the Bald Eagle Trail because I like seeing bald eagles.
The trailhead follows an old road and the whole way it was quite wide and easy to follow. It starts in the woods, but then emerges into more open areas with tall reeds, especially after it’s first curve to the right.
After you cross the marsh area, the trail will reenter the trees, and will rise a little bit as it goes along. The trail seems to split at one point. We opted right, which we realized afterwards took us off of the main trail. It looped back around, and there was nothing that wasn’t lovely about our detour, but it was definitely not the way the map showed.
Once you climb the last bit of rise, you are in the cul-de-sac at the end of the trail. Here, the trail circles a small, hidden pond.
About halfway around the cul-de-sac, they have mowed a little path out to a clear view of the marshes. It’s a very short detour that is worth taking.
From here its back to the cul-de-sac to complete the circle. In the second half of the loop, you’ll have two spots to look into the pond area for a birds hiding out there. They’ve set up houses for some birds as well.
You’ll leave the cul-de-sac just before you make it all the way back around to where you started. You’ll follow this leg of the trail back until you see a birdhouse in by the side of the trail.
From here, it’s just a dozen or so more steps back to where we rejoin the stick of this lollipop trail. You’ll quickly leave the trees to head across the more open marsh area, then enter the first set of trees before arriving back at your vehicle.
After this hike, we drove down to the end of the road where Turkey Point is. Here, you can lauch a kayak onto one of the water trails, climb the observation tower, or cross the footbridge to poke around in the reeds on the other side.
Sadly, my wife felt sick at this point in our adventure, and we took her home to rest. Turns out that she was pregnant. Eleven months and one extra baby later…
Maple Ave Trail – 1.4 miles
The Pres and I returned in October 2017 to take on the final three trails in the preserve. We started with the Maple Ave Trail. We headed in at the trailhead, which followed an old road…
The trail runs through a nice patch of forest. No Fall colors yet, but the greens were lovely anyway.
As we rounded a bend, the trail split. This is not a long split, as the two parts of the trail come back together in about 150 feet. However, there were remains of old buildings here, which was pretty awesome.
Oh, and we met a snake.
The Pres spotted him, I was too busy checking out the buildings.
We then headed left at the fork (although, as I said, the trail quickly meets back up).
The least fun part of this trail is that the spiders were out in force. We walked with sticks in front of us, but still got a few face fulls of webs at times.
We then reached the next split, we knew this was the beginning of the lollipop part of the trail. We opted for left here.
At this point, the trail enters some lovely marsh areas.
The trail then reenters the woods.
The trail does split here, with a side trail going a short way to a road. We continued on the main path.
We finished the loop part of the lollipop, turning to continue down trail we’d already covered, all the way back to the trailhead.
Overall, a great trail to start the day with! But on to the…
Warffle Farm Trail
A few minutes later (after another visit to Turkey Point, because its nice down there), we pulled up to the trailhead for the Warffle Farm Trail. This trail is a whole lot like the Bald Eagle Trail, only half the length.
Walk a short distance to the trail split. Here, we chose to go left. This trail is mostly a loop, so you’ll finish back at this spot.
Another split will appear pretty quickly. Here, we also chose to go left, which is a spur to an osprey nest out in the marshes. This part of the trail was bone dry, which was nice.
Once back in the woods, we turned left to complete the loop through the woods.
This was a nice walk, but its my least favorite of the four trails here. Which is fine, because now we would find out that we had saved the best for last with the…
The Tat Starr Trail
Our last stop for the preserve was the Tat Starr Trail, the longest and, as we were about to discover, most awesome trail in the preserve. We set off past the parking lot (closed off by a gate) and headed down the trail. Following it was a bit tricky, as the path wasn’t always clear, but there were plenty of trail markers to lead the way if you paid attention.
We followed the trail until it reached an old dirt road, where we turned left. This road narrowed a bit as it approached the marsh.
Once in the marsh, we quickly hit a boardwalk. We followed it through some beautiful marshland, but then, sadly, the trail disappeared under water. No seriously, we could see educational signs ahead, but would have to wade to get there.
No, seriously, the trail now goes underwater from here.
But despite the trail going submarine on us, it was great. We went back the way we came to the trailhead.
All in all, a great spot for adventuring.
Since THREE hikes in one day obviously aren’t enough, we headed through Fortesque to hike along the beach at the Egg Island WMA, only about 15 minutes away WHERE WE SAW A BALD EAGLE!
Beautiful views of the marsh. Great place for birding.
Bugs are probably terrible certain times of the year.