Some folks think you have to travel to distant lands to find a real adventure. Let me tell you about our latest. Living in Manhattan has its good parts, but getting out of town is always a joy. Five friends and I rented a van from a local company, loaded up our supplies and headed for New Jersey. Now, before you bust a gut about New Jersey, know we were headed for the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge. If every you wanted to see wild life (not life gone wild – picture Times Square on New Year’s Eve) this is the place. It is not often crowded, it is not hard to get to, it is not far from home. Traveling with friends who have the same kind of adventurous spirit makes for a wonderful week-end.
Approximately 8.5 miles of primitive trails are maintained in the wilderness area and roaming off-trail is permitted. Great Swamp was established as a place to provide for migratory birds, a stopover where they can feed and nest. The western half of the Refuge is managed as a optimum habitat for a wide variety of birds and other animals. Water is regulated; grasslands are mowed and maintained for the best habitat for wood ducks, bluebirds, and other birds. In addition, constant research is a part of the overall operation.
The eastern half of the Refuge is a Wilderness Area, made so by Congress in 1968. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed remaining traces of our activities there such as roads, old house sites and dumps. The wilderness area is a beautiful section that contains both floodplain and forest and about 100 acres of open water that provides unique habitat for a great variety of plants and animals.
While most of New Jersey may not be the most exciting place to visit, an adventure to the Great Swamp can be lots of fun. Load your van with friends, food, and the gear you need for hiking a swamp. You will find more than you bargained for.