Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge


Piping_Foresyth (4).jpg


View Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in a larger map

Park Overview:

The refuge’s location on one of the Atlantic Flyway’s most active paths makes it an important link in the network of national wildlife refuges.

Trail Uses:Hiking, Handicapped
Dogs:No dogs
Trail Miles:20 miles
Park Acreage:46000 acres
Park Description:

Following the pattern of a flat rock thrown across a body of water, the Edwin B. Forsythe National Refuge skips nearly fifty miles up the New Jersey shoreline jumping from Oceanville, north to Holgate, Manahawkin, Forked River and finally resting at Mantoloking.  Managed to protect migratory birds, nearly ninety percent of the refuge is tidal salt meadow and marsh, interspersed with shallow coves and bays.

The Brigantine and Barnegat divisions were originally two distinct refuges, established in 1939 and 1967 respectively.  In 1984, they were combined and renamed to honor the late conservationist congressman from New Jersey. 

More than 6,000 acres are designated wilderness areas, including Holgate and Little Beach, two of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches in New Jersey.  They protect nesting and feeding habitat for the endangered piping plover [pictured in the photo above], black skimmer, and least tern.  To minimize disturbance to these birds and their habitat, public access is limited.  Holgate is closed to public use during nesting season, April 1 until August 31.  During all other times, the beachfront is open, although the dunes are always off limits and pets are prohibited.  Little Beach is closed all year except by special-use permit for research or education.

About 3,000 acres are woodlands dominated by pitch pine, white oak, and white cedar.  Fields amidst the woods provide habitat diversity.  A wide variety of upland wildlife species frequent these areas.

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Trails Overview:

Most of the refuge's public use facilities are located at the headquarters area in Oceanville, open daily sunrise to sunset.   The area includes an eight-mile self-guiding Wildlife Drive [on an unpaved road], four short nature foot trails [0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 2.2-miles], and observation towers.

  • The Leeds Eco-Trail [0.5-mile], a loop trail, passes through salt marsh and woodlands.  The marsh segments are on a boardwalk; the first 700 feet are wheelchair accessible.
  • The Songbird Trail [2.2 miles] is an outstanding hike to view migratory songbirds.  By returning along Wildlife Drive different loop options are available.
  • A trail map is available on-line in the refuge's "general brochure" [use contact information below].

North of the headquarters area is the 3.5-mile long Holgate Beach, a 1-mile self-guided nature loop trail at Eno's Pond [half is wheelchair accessible], and a 3.5-mile loop hike on the deCamp Wildlife Trail.  Click on the map tab at the top of the page for locations.

  • Fascinatingly, there is also a place within the refuge to observe wildlife, boat, fish or crab called "Bridge to Nowhere."  Hiking opportunities on such a bridge are limited.

To reach Oceanville, take the Garden State Parkway to Exit 48, and proceed south for six miles on US 9 to Oceanville. At the traffic light, where a sign indicates the refuge entrance to the left, turn left onto Great Creek Road and follow it for one mile to the entrance, headquarters, and parking.

For Holgate beach, take NJ 72 east to the town of Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island, turn right, and continue south for eight miles to the dead end where there is parking and access to the beach edge [open only from September 1 until March 31].

Contact Information:Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
Region:Jersey Shore