Garrett Family Preserve – Cape May, Cape May County, NJ
Distance – 3.6 miles of trails total. We hiked 1.6 miles here
Type – Interlocking loops
Difficulty: 2 of 10
Website – Nature.org
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – fields and marsh
Surface – mostly grass
Trailheads – 38°56’57.39″N, 74°55’25.63″W
Directions – 801 Wilson St, Cape May, NJ 08204
Dog friendly? Yes
Stroller friendly? Strollers with large offroad wheels should work
Benches? Lots of benches
Facilities?: Picnic tables
Description – Each February, the family and I all head down to Ocean City to spend a weekend eating shore pizza, walking the boardwalk, playing skeeball, and going on a hike. This year’s hike? Garrett Family Preserve in Cape May!
This preserve is owned by The Nature Conservancy and is open year round. It’s old farm fields that have grown back in that skirt the edges of marshes, perfect for butterflies, bugs, and migrating birds.
We set off down the perimeter trail and then headed right onto the blue blazed Meadow-to-Marsh Trail, which runs a half mile.
The blue trail was fun, because it meanders along, twisting and turning back and forth, eventually rejoining the Perimeter Trail on its stretch along the northern boundary of the preserve.
But we weren’t done, as the blue trail made a very sharp cut so that it would wander around some more before rejoining the Perimeter Trail by the Northeast corner of the Preserve.
From here, we crossed right over the Perimeter Trail to check out the marsh view on the other side. There we saw a pretty great feature of this preserve, an artist’s easel. This is one of several in the Preserve.
We then followed along the Perimeter Trail along the east side of the preserve (except for a short stint where we somehow ended up on a connector trail) until we reached the bird blind at the south east corner of the preserve. This section was my favorite part, with some arches and a boardwalk.
We had to take a walk down to the bird blind, of course.
We could have kept going on the Perimeter Trail, but opted to backtrack to the green blazed Poet’s Trail to see what the middle of the preserve looked like.
We made it back to the parking lot. While the baby and toddler had a snack, the two older boys and I walked up to check the pavilion out. The pavilion wasn’t too bad, but the Bug Hotel nearby was pretty great.
Then it was back into the car and time to head back to Ocean City for lunch!
Nearby: South Cape May Meadows Preserve and Cape May Point State Park are nearby
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Lovely views, lots of birds, and supposed to be a lot of butterflies in season.
The bugs near the marshes are probably bad in the summer.
I so appreciate your desire, willingness, and plan to include your family in your adventures. They are building memories of you and the outdoors. Keep up the good work!