Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management Area – Villas, Cape May County, NJ
Distance – 4 miles of trails here. We did 2.3 miles here, wish the 2 year old had the legs this day for more!
Type – Interlocking loops
Difficulty: 2 of 10
Website – None? Is it possible for a place to have zero online presence in 2020?
Open – 5 AM to 9 PM
Terrain – fields, woods, hills
Surface – mostly paved, with a dirt trail through the woods
Trailheads – 39° 0’11.70″N, 74°56’53.02″W
Directions – 5 Shawmont Ave, Villas, NJ 08251
Parking – Two good sized lots
Dog friendly? Yes
Stroller friendly? Yes, very
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! But it was much an AMAZINGLY nice weekend, that we decided to do a hike on Sunday too before we headed home, so we came to check out Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management Area.
This has been on my radar for ages, even since I found it it was once the estate of beer barren Billy Pflaumer. Who doesn’t want to check out a former beer baron estate? It was later the Ponderlodge Golf Course. Today, the buildings are gone, but the golf cart paths remain, making for a lovely trail system of 4 miles, something that’s very rare for a Wildlife Management Area in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, there’s very little information on the Internet about this place… at least until now!
We parked our car in the parking lot, got our endless amount of hiking stuff together, and set off as a group of six down the trail. We started on the Blue Trail around the west side of the lake. This lake is a good size, with an island in the middle that I wish we could gotten to!
We made a right onto Red Trail, which we’d follow for the next 1.5 miles. This trail is also paved, and skirts the edge of the preserve. We figured it would get us the best overall look at the whole place (plus, it was such a nice day, why WOULDN’T we want to take the longer way?).
They also had plenty of educational signs, a rarity for a Wildlife Management Area. The Pres, being 7, had to read every single one.
My favorite part of this trail was the tons of little ponds along the way. These have to be exploding with frogs, turtles, and all sorts of things when it isn’t, you know, mid-February. Even so, plenty of ducks on these little ponds today.
Being golf cart paths, there were plenty of twists and turns along the way that kept things interesting.
Eventually, the Red Trail bared right while a white blazed connector trail went forward. We opted to head right, since the Red trail had treated us so well so far. Except for Kite Flyer, who apparently had his own hike in mind.
A short time after the split, a right turn heads into the woods… the Green Trail. This is an 0.8 of a mile dirt trail and looked SUPER fun… but the 2 year old was starting to make grumpy noises, so we stuck with the Red Trail today.
The Green Trail soon rejoined the Red Trail. The Red Trail reached the northeast corner of the park and began to make its way back toward the large lake where we had started.
At this point, two white connector trails tied in with the Red Trail. We stayed right on the Red Trail at each intersection.
This brought us to the second parking area in the WMA, which the trail skirts the edge of.
Shortly after the parking lot, we finally had to leave our old friend, the Red Trail. We headed straight onto the Yellow Trail, a 0.6 of a mile loop that would take us back to and around the lake where we started.
We made it!
From here, we took some time to throw rocks in the pond before getting in the car and heading for our next adventure!
Cape May has awesome hiking. Some great spots nearby are Garrett Family Preserve, Cape May Point State Park, South Cape May Meadows, and Cape May County Park Central (home of the Cape May Zoo).
Little ponds, lots of birds, easy to follow trails, and lots of adventure.
Preserve is closed for hunting parts of the Winter... but you can all be patient.