Glades Wildlife Refuge
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:Turkey Point Road, Downe, NJ
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:, 856-447-3425

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None
Map: (click on List of Preserves, then Glades)

Explore the ins and outs of an extensive tidal marsh along the Delaware Bayshore.

Glades Wildlife Refuge
Photo by: Dendroicacerulea

The 7,500-acre Glades Wildlife Refuge, a preserve owned by the Natural Lands Trust, is an extensive landscape of tidal wetland along Delaware Bay. It consists of saltmarshes, forests, and beaches, and hosts abundant wildlife, including bald eagles and diamondback terrapins, migratory shorebirds during spring and fall, and large flocks of snow geese in winter. This unusual and beautiful environment invites kids of various ages to explore, with plenty of room to roam and play.

A great way to discover the refuge is by paddling a canoe or kayak around the shallow coves and winding inlets. You’ll see all kinds of birds flying, fishing, and tending to their young; foxes, otters, and terrapins can be spotted too, and crabs are plentiful on the mudflats. A public boat launch is at the end of Turkey Point Road. The trust conducts guided paddles; call for information. Be sure to check the tide tables before starting out so you are not paddling against an incoming tide. On land, hiking trails lead to wildlife viewing areas. Tat Starr Trail goes through a forest to the edge of a vast tidal marsh where kids can climb an observation tower for a spectacular vista. Look for bald eagles, especially in winter, and other raptors, waterfowl, and shorebirds.

Fortescue Beach and Raybins Beach on the Delaware Bay are two of the best locations for observing the annual horseshoe crab migration, an incredible event in which huge, spiny crabs crawl by the thousands onto the beaches to lay their eggs. They in turn are followed by huge flocks of birds that feast on the eggs. Despite the apparent conflict, the crabs have survived for eons. Watching this is an unforgettable experience. Usually the peak spawning coincides with high lunar tides at the full and new moons in May and June. You can view the spectacle from the bridge. Check with refuge staff prior to your trip to confirm that the crabs have arrived.

Any time of year, kids will enjoy the wide, pristine sand beaches that give access to the gentle waves on the Delaware Bay. They can discover sand-castle worm “cities,” run after fiddler crabs scurrying across the sand, watch barnacles open and close in tidal pools, or go for a swim.

Remember: Insects are prevalent here, especially during summer. Always do a thorough tick check.

Plan B:

Parvin State Park has hiking and biking trails and several small lakes for paddling.

Where to Eat Nearby:

It’s best to bring snacks or a picnic to enjoy on the beach.


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