Library image #460
: Photo taken off of Blue trail in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Area in Harding Township.
The United States Congress designated the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness (map
) in 1968 and it now has a total of 3,660 acres
All of this wilderness is located in New Jersey
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
About 25,000 years ago the Wisconsin glacier receded from northern New Jersey, leaving extensive wetlands in its icy wake. The glacier's southernmost point became Great Swamp, which is far more attractive than its name might imply. With cattail marshes, wet grassland, swampy woodland, and ridges thick with oak, beech, and laurel, Great Swamp provides a home for mice, moles, skunks, raccoons, otters, foxes, and white-tailed deer. Migratory birds see Great Swamp as a "nest and rest" (bird-watchers have identified 222 species). Numerous reptiles and amphibians have taken up residence, including rare bog turtles, wood turtles, and blue-spotted salamanders.
Almost half of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, the eastern portion, is designated Wilderness. About eight miles of trail provide access during daylight hours only, and camping and picnicking are not permitted.