Accessible NJ: Four Places to Reconnect with Nature
All six of New Jersey’s regions are dotted with acres-upon-acres of woodsy wonderlands, freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, wildlife areas and scenic vistas. Whether you want to relax, luxuriate, learn or just take a few really amazing photos, here are four accessible spots to appreciate New Jersey’s natural wonders.
Cape May Point State Park, Cape May
Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May Point State Park is a must-see destination with constantly changing shorelines, dunes, freshwater coastal marshes, ponds and forested islands. And, when it comes to bird watching, Cape May Point State Park flies away with top marks. Boasting 244 acres, the park is regarded as a major migratory route for birds and one of the most popular sites for bird watching in North America. Migrating horseshoe crabs, dragonflies and monarch butterflies are also frequent visitors. It’s no wonder, everyone is on the way to Cape May.
Accessible Trail: The Duck Pond Trail is a .5-mile wheelchair-friendly trail that offers fantastic access to the Lighthouse Pond West and East. Say hello to box turtles and rabbits as you travel out to the platform at the water’s edge to get an up-close look at wading birds, swans, ducks and muskrats, as well as the occasional osprey or river otter. Birding highlights include common yellowthroat, yellow warbler, white-eyed vireo and yellow-breasted chat. In late summer and fall, the trail edges are a stunningly vibrant collection of wildflowers and butterflies. Click here for more details.
Cooper River Park, Merchantville
This 346-acre park in the heart of Camden County features beautiful green spaces surrounding the well-known Cooper River in the heart of Camden County. The Camden County Boathouse located at the park is home to many prestigious rowing events that draw a crowd and provide entertainment and enjoyment for all ages. Ideal rowing conditions exist on the river, which boasts a world-class, Olympic-distance 2,000-meter narrow and sheltered straightaway. The park is also known for its pooch park, fantastic fishing, wildlife including ducks and turtles, picnic areas and pavilions.
A Paved Path the Whole Way Around: This 3.8-mile paved loop is an excellent way to observe the abundance of natural beauty and events that take place at Cooper River Park. The path is an ideal position to take in spectacular views of rowing, kayaking and other types of boating taking place on the river throughout the year. Wide and very gentle grade, the accessible path creates a pleasant journey for those in wheelchairs and other mobility equipment, as well as parents pushing strollers.
Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, Highlands
One look and you’ll be hooked. Located on a thin peninsula that extends into the lower New York Harbor, the Sandy Hook Unit draws more than two million visitors annually. And for good reason. The area boasts historic landmarks, recreation, salt marshes, a spectacular holly forest and more than 300 species of birds. All in all, it’s safe to say Sandy Hook Unit is a nature-lover’s paradise.
Amazing for All Abilities: Sandy Hook Unit’s Multi-Use Pathway is a seven-mile long, twelve-foot wide paved thoroughfare that journeys through some of the most picturesque nature trails in the Garden State. The smooth, level, wheelchair-accessible trail starts at the park’s entrance and leads through a shady holly forest and along the salt marsh that skirts the beach. Take in some interesting historic and military sites along the path, including the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Nike missile sites. Click here for additional accessibility amenities offered at Sandy Hook Unit.
Island Beach State Park , Seaside Park
Island Beach State Park is another New Jersey favorite. This beautifully preserved barrier island features close to ten miles of sandy beach and recreation along the Barnegat Bay. Nature-lovers are sure to enjoy the accessible beach, dense maritime forests, rolling sand dunes and tidal marshes. The park also serves as a protected area for foxes, ospreys, other wildlife and more than 400 species of plants.
See the Entire Island: Traverse the entire island, from ocean to bay, as you journey on The Fisherman’s Walkway. This wide, well maintained boardwalk trail is also wheelchair friendly, allowing visitors to experience all the natural beauty Island Beach State Park has to offer. Another plus: informational signs along the way with interesting facts about the plants, wildlife and natural systems that you will encounter. Get more details here.
Whatever direction you wander, be sure to look up the latest, local updates for current availability, hours and guidelines. Plan your getaway, download your FREE Travel Guide and sign up for our e-newsletter at VisitNJ.org.