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New Jersey’s Coastal Heritage Trail

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By Wayne Lazarus on October 29th, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Take a drive through 300 miles of natural beauty, U. S. history and coastal village culture along the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail. Starting at Fort Mott State Park, drive south parallel to the coast where the Delaware River empties into the Delaware Bay, in the Delsea Region. There are a number of state forests, preserves, parks, wetlands and state historic sites alonge the way. ( The Greenwich Tea Burning Monument honors New Jersey’s tea-party town, based on a 1774 protest.) Clark Branch at Parkdale John F. Bunnell copyAt Millville, turn south to the Cape May region. Famed for its beautiful beaches and exciting boardwalks, the area also has intricate Victorian homes, lighthouses, historical and natural points to see. Cape May was settled as a whaling village in the 1600′s, and whales, dolphins and seals can be seen, depending on the season. Southern New Jersey is also a birder’s paradise, as some 60,000 raptors migrate through twice a year.

Barnegat LighthouseNorth from Cape May, drive along the Atlantic coast through the Absecon region of the trail and into the Barnegat Bay region. Museums and lighthouses reflect the seafaring people who settled this area. Inland at this part of New Jersey is the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a 1.1 million acre region established as the country’s first National Reserve in 1978 and recognized by UNESCO in the 1980s as an International Biosphere Reserve.  The diverse pine and oak forest supports a variety of plants and animals unique to this area. The rich farmland here is home to many of the state’s wineries. It’s also cranberry country. At Double Trouble State Park, four bogs are rented by local farmers and viewing of the harvest is open to the public.

The Sandy Hook region of the Coastal Heritage Trail is next, wrapping around the northern tip in Sandy Hook Bay. Here are the oldest fishing ports on the East Coast and the Eastern Seaboard’s highest natural point — Mt. Mitchell, 266 feet above sea level. You’ll want to plan enough time to enjoy all there is along the trail, so make your reservations through in Millville, Pennsville, Cape May, Freehold, Toms River, Seaside Heights, Beach Haven, Point Pleasant Beach, Lakewood or New Brunswick. (Barnegat Lighthouse photo courtesy NJ Div. of Travel and Tourism, Clark Branch at Parkdale photo by John Bunnell, courtesy NJ Pinelands Commission. Both used with permission.)

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