From the Headquarters’ parking area just inside the gate (the first parking area on your left), follow the trail through the picnic area to the end where a set of stairs descends to a dirt road blazed with brown dots. Make a left (heading west) on the road and follow to the end, then turn right (north) on Wildlife Drive. This is a one-way unpaved road that circles around the entire wildlife...
From the Headquarters’ parking area just inside the gate (the first parking area on your left), follow the trail through the picnic area to the end where a set of stairs descends to a dirt road blazed with brown dots. Make a left (heading west) on the road and follow to the end, then turn right (north) on Wildlife Drive. This is a one-way unpaved road that circles around the entire wildlife refuge; be watchful for vehicular traffic. After following the road for 0.7 mile (skirting some private property on your left), you will come to the trailhead for the blue blazed Songbird Trail. Follow the entire 2.2 miles of the Songbird Trail thru forests and some open fields. White-tailed deer seem to be abundant on this trail, even during the daylight hours, along with the occasional red fox. Unfortunately, ticks are also abundant in the area, especially the open fields with tall grass… plan accordingly. The trail also passes some areas where the park service is restoring the forest. The trail has several cut-offs (yellow, pink and white blazes – all lead back to Wildlife Drive) if you wish to shorten the hike.
After 2.2 miles the blue-blazed trail will end at Wildlife Drive. Turn right on Wildlife Drive and start the hike back to the parking lot. While on the road, there are some interesting places to linger including the Experimental Pool Overlook, which features two spotting scopes to view the pool and surrounding habitats, and another forest restoration project. Also along Wildlife Drive are views of the Atlantic City skyline off in the distance beyond the marsh and bay. After 1.5 miles you will reach the trailhead for the Songbird Trail again and then just retrace steps back to parking lot.
If you have time, you can drive eight miles along the entire wildlife refuge along Wildlife Drive (fee involved for the drive, but not for the hike described). The refuge is along the Atlantic flyway and offers wonderful birding opportunities during the fall especially.
Turn By Turn Description:
0.0 mi- leave parking lot on path thru picnic area, where path turns left continue straight down the stairs and turn left on woods road. At end of woods road, turn right on Wildlife Drive (watch for cars) and follow for about 1/2 mile.
0.7 mi- make left onto Songbird Trail (blue blazes), this will be your path for next 2.2 miles. Pay particular attention when crossing open fields, as blazes disappear until you re-enter woods (especially first field).Yellow, pink and white trails will appear if you wish to shorten hike.
2.9 mi- end of songbird trail, make a right onto Wildlife Dr. and follow back towards the parking lot, enjoy some of the views overlooking the marsh areas. This is also a good area to see migratory birds in the late fall.
4.4 mi- reach trailhead for the Songbird Trail again, continue along Wildlife Dr.
5.1 mi- back at parking lot.
A sharper image of the drivemap may be found on page 5 of the May 2009 official park brochure.
Date of hike: October 13, 2010
Hike submitted by: William BannanPublication: Submitted by acyboy on 07/21/2011
A mix of hardwood forest and marshlands with great birding opportunities and views of the Atlantic City skyline across the bay.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.