Know the New Hiking How-tos
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
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. GPS Coordinates: 39.464712, -74.449856 [800 Great Creek Rd, Galloway, NJ 08205]
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]. GPS Coordinates: 39.531234, -74.263097 [5601-5699 S Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach Township, NJ 08008]
The refuge’s multiple locations on one of the Atlantic Flyway’s most active paths make it an important link in the network of national wildlife refuges.
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. Click for a detailed description of a hike along this trail.
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.
Use the Web Map link on this site to view a brochure and maps of the refuge. Click to see photos taken on a hike/drive in the headquarters area of the refuge (July 2012)
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. It encompasses 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats.
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.