Two hikers on a trail.
Walk for NJ Wildlife Help us raise awareness of New Jersey wildlife and the lands and waters they rely on! © Shutterstock

Stories in New Jersey

Top 10 Adventures

From mountain biking and birding to hiking and painting, our preserves offer something for everyone.

Nature heals. Nature calms. Nature is…our everything. Connecting to and exploring in nature is as important as protecting nature. Here are 10 ways to connect with nature at our preserves across New Jersey. 

High Mountain Park Preserve

View from mountain summit.
Summit of High Mountain View of New York City from the summit of High Mountain Park Preserve © TNC
Man taking selfie at the top of High Mountain.
Selfies at the Summit Do you have what it takes to get to the summit? © Jeff Burian/TNC
Summit of High Mountain View of New York City from the summit of High Mountain Park Preserve © TNC
Selfies at the Summit Do you have what it takes to get to the summit? © Jeff Burian/TNC

1. Take a Selfie at the Summit

Elevate your exercise, literally, by hiking to the High Mountain Summit. Traverse about 1.5 miles through High Mountain Park Preserve of varied terrain, including a rigorous climb at the end to the summit. Once at the top, you’ll be standing 800 feet above sea-level with sweeping vistas of the Manhattan skyline and northern New Jersey. Snap a selfie and share it on social media; the NYC skyline makes the perfect selfie backdrop! 

Waterfall in forest.
Buttermilk Falls High Mountain Park Preserve's Buttermilk Falls was historically a vital source of water for the Leni Lenape. © Jason Whitaker

2. Walk to Waterfalls

 The calming waterfalls of High Mountain Park Preserve can be found throughout the preserve's trails, most notably the Waterfall Spur and the Red trails. Fun fact: the Lenni Lenape who lived on the preserve relied on this waterfall, now called Buttermilk Falls, as a vital, year-round supply of fresh water. Visit these falls to enjoy the relaxing sound of rippling water, and appreciate their natural history. 

Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve

Lime kiln remnants in a lush green forest.
Lime Kiln Two historic lime kilns can be found at Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve. © Lily Mullock / TNC

3. Look for Lime Kilns

Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve celebrates true New Jersey wilderness and is considered one of the most important and species-rich natural areas in the state. The preserve has more than 700 acres of protected limestone forest. Limestone, a type of carbonate sedimentary rock, not only has a unique role of supporting plants and animals, it also has a rich history. During the 19th century, lime kilns were built in Warren and Sussex counties due to the abundant limestone in the ground. These kilns were used to manufacture lime, which would then be used as fertilizer on farm fields or combined with sand to make mortars and plasters. Two of this style of kiln can be found within the preserve, a rarity as many kilns throughout the state have been demolished. These interesting structures were key components in the growth and building of our society and today serve as visual reminders of New Jersey's industrial and agricultural history.

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve

Biking the Bluffs (0:24) Over the hills and through the woods, biking the Bluffs we go!

4. Mountain Bike Along the Maurice River

Pedal your way through an exhilarating six-mile mountain bike trail in an enchanting natural setting. The mountain bike trail on the preserve is one of the few trails in southern New Jersey that offers elevation change. Designed following International Mountain Biking Association standards, the trail is perfect for both beginning and experienced riders. Keep an eye out for local wildlife: you might cross paths with white-tailed deer, migratory birds, or even red fox!

5. Hike Alongside Historic Ruins

The Maurice River Bluffs preserve was once a hub for sand mining and the Maurice River was crucial to the transport of these materials with several piers located along its banks. The six miles of hiking trails bring you alongside some of the historic ruins from this preserve’s fascinating history, including an 18th century farmhouse.

Old house remains in the woods.
Old farmhouse in the woods.
Old Farmhouse Slide the green bar to see what the farmhouse looked like in the 1970s compared to today!

Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve

Children and adult examine a tree.
Tree Identification How many trees can you identify from our Trees of Lizard Tail Swamp checklist? © Shutterstock

6. Practice Your Tree ID

Lizard Tail Swamp's unique hardwood swamp conditions allow an unusually high number of tree species to flourish here: iconic red maples, ornamental American beech, hardy pitch pines, and aromatic sassafras trees are just a few of the many tree species found on the preserve. During winter, see vibrant red berries of American Holly trees. See if you can correctly identify all of the species from our Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve Tree Checklist. Don’t forget your field guide!

Garrett Family Preserve at Cape Island Creek


A large monarch butterfly statue sits at the end of a wildflower field.
TNC Monarch Our Dream Machine Monarch sculpture is surrounded by goldenrod, making it the perfect photo opp! © Lily Mullock

7. Become a Butterfly

Celebrate nature and be a part of our colorful kaleidoscope (that’s what a group of butterflies is called!) by taking a photo with our Dream Machine Monarch, crafted by sculpter Rubem Robeirb. This statue was established at the preserve the very same week monarch butterflies were added to the endangered species list. Please visit the preserve, take a photo with the statue and share it using #TNCMonarch to help us spread information about this beloved species and the importance of conserving their habitat

Art easel near tidal marsh.
Art in Nature There are three adjustable art easels throughout the preserve that visitors are encouraged to use. © Lily Mullock/TNC

8. Paint the Preserve

The Garrett Family Preserve offers a unique opportunity for people to connect to nature through art. Visitors can make use of three fully adjustable art easels that overlook wildflower meadows and saltwater tidal marshes. Artists are fully immersed in the natural wonders of this preserve: native and migrating birds filling the skies, pollinators buzzing through the wildflowers, the ever-changing tides of the saltwater marshes, and so much more. 

South Cape May Meadows

Two adult glossy ibises in a freshwater pond.
Glossy Ibis Glossy ibises can often be seen poking around in the mud in search of food. © Shutterstock
Beach with lighthouse.
Protected Beach The one mile of protected beach provides vital nesting habitat for endangered migratory shorebirds. © Shutterstock
Glossy Ibis Glossy ibises can often be seen poking around in the mud in search of food. © Shutterstock
Protected Beach The one mile of protected beach provides vital nesting habitat for endangered migratory shorebirds. © Shutterstock
Hands holding binoculars.
Birding Hot Spot Migratory and year-round songbirds, raptors, waterfowl and more can be seen throughout the South Cape May Meadows Preserve. © Lily Mullock/TNC

9. Be a Birder

A globally-renowned paradise for birders, the South Cape May Meadows Preserve is a haven for native and migrating birds. Given its unique location along the Atlantic Flyway, over 340 species have been recorded here, making it an experienced birders’ playground!  Observation platforms, viewfinders and an 80 foot floating bird blind allow visitors to get up-close and personal with nature. The trail system lets birders explore many different habitats like freshwater wetlands, deciduous forests, and one mile of protected, undeveloped beach that offers unobstructed views of the Cape May lighthouse. 

10. Walk Through Wildflowers

Seasonally, both our South Cape May Meadows and Garrett Family Preserve at Cape Island Creek offer the exciting opportunity for visitors to stroll through beautiful wildflowers.

Swamp rose mallow is wetlands.
Nature trail through goldenrod field.
Large swamp rose mallow flower.
Goldenrod flowers.
Pollinator hotel along nature trail.

Walking through wildflowers is nothing short of magic. If you’re visiting New Jersey during July and August, stroll through the one-mile loop at our South Cape May Meadows Preserve to be surrounded by hundreds of swamp rose mallow blooms. During late August into early October, the meadows at our Garrett Family Preserve boast thousands of goldenrod flowers. The pollinator trail brings you through the heart of the wildflower meadows, making for an excellent photo opportunity!