Cape May County's Nature Spots:
The Cape May Meadows

By Paul Kerlinger
Cape May Times Outdoors Columnist

If there is only one natural area for you to see in the Cape May area, let it be the Cape May Meadows. This natural area is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.

Located between Cape May City and Cape May Point, this refuge offers great walking and nature viewing in dune, freshwater marsh, ponds, meadow, and beachfront habitats.

Its natural beauty, and abundance of easily seen animals, plants, and diverse habitats are great for people of all ages including those seeking casual walk in nature with their family to those seeking rare birds and great photographic opportunities.

What to See

The Meadows abounds with a variety of wildlife and habitats. The trails have grown up and are now green tunnels through brushy fields and past several ponds and marshy areas.

Walking is easy and in the summer, the ponds will be visited by egrets (tall, white wading birds), Mute Swans, various ducks, shorebirds (sandpiper type birds), terns, gulls, and a host of other bird species.

Look overhead and you will see swallows, martins and swifts catching insects, along with terns coming and going as they continuously look for fish. Watch the egrets catching fish or even see muskrats swimming at the edges of the marsh. Flying just above the pond will be thousands of dragonflies and along the trails butterflies, frogs, and toads are often easily seen.

Throughout the warm season, watch for wildflowers of various sorts, along with cattails and other marsh vegetation.

In September through early November, migrating hawks, including Peregrine Falcons, Northern Harrier, and many other species are present. Migration brings and avalanche of birds to the Meadows.

Winter is a quiet time, but the solitude, wind, and remaining wildlife make the Meadows a great place to see nature and get away from it all.

Access, Parking, and Hours

Admission is free. The Meadows is easily accessed from a parking lot on Sunset Blvd. about half way between West Cape May and Cape May Point. The Meadows can also be accessed by walking from the west end of the Cape May Beach front toward the Cape May Point Lighthouse, or from the Cape May Point State Park by walking east along the beach toward Cape May. The Meadows is open year-round, 7 days a week, dawn to dusk. Some areas of the beach are closed for shorebird nesting

Trails

From the parking lot a loop trail about 1-mile in lengthl leads through the dunes, over the dunes, down the beach toward Cape May (left), back over the dunes, and through the meadows back to the parking lot.

A second trail back over the dune leads back toward Sunset Blvd. and the parking lot. Do not leave the trails, except on the beach. Stay out of any roped areas on the beach, which will have signs about nesting shorebirds during April through August.

Facilities

There are no bathrooms, food concessions or visitor center in the Meadows. The closest public restrooms are at the Cape May Point State Park. The closest restaurants are in West Cape May and Cape May.

Be alert. Stay in the middle of pathways to avoid poison ivy. There can be ticks and mosquitoes, but they are rarely bothersome.

For more information contact The Nature Conservancy at (609) 861-0600.

 

Cape May County Nature Spots

The Meadows

Cape May Point State Park

Shell Bay Landing

Hereford Inlet Gardens

Cape May County Beach Walks

The Cove

Stone Harbor Point

Higbee in Winter

Sunset Beach

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

 

 


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