I hope that you all have found ways to get out for fresh air and exercise during these COVID-19 pandemic times. A return to natural spaces is “just what the doctor ordered” in many cases. One such place, based in Galloway Township, is the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Truth be told, it is a refuge also for people, to come and feel better physically and mentally.
In case you haven’t been, the address to find the Galloway part of the Refuge is 800 Great Creek Road. What do you do there, you say? Well, any day from dawn to dusk you may come and explore. As soon as you come over the hill and see the expansive view, you can take a deep breath and know that you are “getting away from it all,” if just for a little while. If you park just inside the entrance, you may choose to contemplate the Akers trail for an easy, peaceful stroll. Or, go down the hill to the Leeds Eco Trail and enjoy an upland stroll combined with a fun boardwalk experience to see what is happening on the salt marsh today. Take a walk down to the marvelous Gull Tower overlooking the incoming creek and impoundments; viewing birds, ducks and other waterfowl. If you headed further into the uplands, you will find the famous Bristow Trail for a good hike to bird, botanize and enjoy the diversity of it all. Jen’s trail takes you on a nice stroll around a pond full of life.
If you want to walk, run, bike or drive the 8-mile one way loop road, Wildlife Drive, out and around the managed water impoundment, you are in for an adventure and a treat. The south dike road of this impoundment is the remnant route of the old railroad bed of the train to Brigantine; which ran in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Stop at the South Tower and get a breathtaking view of the Atlantic City skyline, check out the AC windmills to see which way the wind is blowing, view Brigantine, miles of meadows, Long Beach Island and points North. I hope you will get a chance to view a Forsythe Sunset from the Northeasterly area of Wildlife Drive, it is usually breathtaking.
Wildlife Drive gives you a grand view of this important stop along the Atlantic Flyway. Make sure to stick to the 15 mph speed limit and be careful to stay safely on the road as you try to take in all of the things to see out there! Birdwatching and photography are hugely popular; I must admit to being drawn into the fascination of learning about so many beautiful and interesting creatures. Binoculars and/or a spotting scope will greatly enhance your experience and ability to identify the animals. Eventually, with the help of other birders and a good guide book like “Sibley’s,” you will start to recognize all of the marvelous diversity and how much distance migration can mean. It won’t be long before you fall in love with the “tub toy” Buffleheads, the majestic eagles and hawks, the beautiful, graceful herons, and so many more.
The Forsythe Refuge system consists of over 47,000 acres of coastal, estuarine and woodland habitat scattered from Galloway Township up some 50 miles up to Brick Township. Along the way you can find great spots to explore, hike, kayak, launch a boat, go fishing or crabbing off piers, birdwatch, take photographs, auto tour and even go clamming sometimes at the Holgate Unit on Long Beach Island.
So, even though the Visitor’s Center is still closed on the main site of the Refuge (it will be a great day when that is again open for business and events), everything else is ready to take you on a trail or road to reflection, recreation and education. Remember to support the fee system, most preferably with a multi-use pass. It is a bargain that you will appreciate more and more over time, from sunrise to sunset, year after year.
Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, entvironmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at email@example.com or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.