Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness

Fish and Wildlife Service, New Jersey.

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness now contains a total of 3,660 acres and is managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service's Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. All of the Wilderness is in the state of New Jersey. In 1968 the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness became part of the now over 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

Roughly 25,000 years ago, where the Wisconsin Glacier reached its furthest point south and stopped, the creation of Great Swamp began. With cattail marshes, wet meadows, swamp woodlands, and ridges thick with oak, beech, and laurel, Great Swamp provides a home for 39 species of mammals including mice, moles, skunks, raccoons, otters, foxes, white-tailed deer, and the endangered Indiana bat. Migratory birds see Great Swamp as a "nest and rest" (244 species have been identified). Numerous reptiles and amphibians have taken up residence, including rare bog turtles, wood turtles, and blue-spotted salamanders. The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 following grassroots action to save the area from being developed into a major metropolitan airport. In 1968, the eastern half of the Refuge was designated as the very first Wilderness Area within the Department of the Interior. About 8.5 miles of primitive trails provide access during daylight hours only, and camping and picnicking are not permitted.

Nearby Activities


From Interstate 78 (westbound): •Take exit 40 and turn right on Hillcrest road (County Road 531). •Go to stop sign (1 mile), cross Mountain Avenue, staying on Hillcrest Road (531). •[Hillcrest Road becomes Mountain Avenue after passing over the Passaic River Bridge] •Go straight through the traffic light at the intersection with County Road 512, and continue on Mountain Avenue. •[Mountain Avenue is now also County Road 638] •Go 1.3 miles to the top of the hill and cross over Long Hill Road onto Meyersville Road. •Go down Meyersville Road 0.8 miles to circle, turn left onto New Vernon Road and follow Refuge directional signs.

From Interstate 78 (eastbound): •Turn left on Hillcrest Road and follow westbound directions.

From interstate 287 (southbound and northbound): •Take Exit 30A (Basking Ridge/ North Maple Avenue) and bear right onto North Maple Avenue.

FOR THE HELEN C. FENSKE VISITOR CENTER (open Thursday/Friday 12 pm-4 pm and Saturday/Sunday 10 am-4 pm; see Hours of Operation for details.) •Turn left onto Madisonville Road •Take second right onto the Refuge entrance road; the Visitor Center will be on your right.

Additional Information

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