Maurice River Bluffs Preserve
Maurice River Bluffs Maurice River Bluffs offers beautiful vistas combining flora, fauna and waterscapes. © The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve

New Jersey

The Maurice River Bluffs provides stopover habitat for migrating songbirds, osprey and bald eagles.

The Nature Conservancy prides itself on protecting great places like Maurice River Bluffs Preserve. Located along the 35.4-mile “Wild and Scenic” Maurice River, the 535-acre preserve gets its name from the majestic bluffs overlooking the river. The preserve provides crucial stopover habitat for migrating and breeding birds, including songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors like nesting osprey and bald eagles. The nature preserve also hosts productive freshwater ponds and unique plant communities, including some of New Jersey’s largest contiguous wild rice marshes.  The preserve is a freshwater haven for the many species of odonates who make their home here.

Freshwater for People and Nature

The Maurice River corridor is an unusually pristine Atlantic Coastal river with nationally and internationally important resources. Its clean waters and related habitats are vital to the migration of shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, rails and fish. The river supports New Jersey's largest stand of wild rice and 53% of the animal species that New Jersey has recognized as endangered, excluding marine mammals.

The Conservancy’s Maurice River Bluffs Nature Preserve encompasses 4.5 miles of river frontage along the Maurice River, providing a buffer from encroaching development which threatens the water quality of the river. Rivers like the Maurice provide clean drinking water for surrounding communities. By preserving the health of land around rivers and lakes, we can keep pollution out of our water.

The Maurice River is a critical link between the Pinelands National Reserve and the Delaware Estuary, both nationally and internationally important. The Maurice River corridor serves as the western boundary of the Pinelands and includes the cities of Vineland and Millville, and the townships of Maurice River, Commercial and Buena Vista.
 

The 6 mile trail system features a 35-foot long bridge, steps and rails throughout the steeper parts that make the trails accessible to all levels of hikers, multiple benches and picnic tables, and a bird blind overlooking the river. This enclosure allows visitors a “bird’s eye view” of various waterfowl and eagles in their natural habitat without disturbing them. Visitors to the preserve can also take advantage of the visitor kiosk, stocked with interpretive information and large trail maps. All enhancements were made by staff and volunteers entirely with recycled materials.

As one of New Jersey’s most visited preserves, the Maurice River Bluffs provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including five established trails and a mountain biking trail. 

What To See
  • A floating dock offers an unobstructed view of two bald eagle nests, as well as many benches and picnic tables which provide scenic spots for observation and relaxation.
  • Osprey nest on the preserve in both natural and man-made nests from March until September.
  • Extensive stands of native wild rice can be seen throughout the river's edge in July and August. The rice provides an important food source for migratory birds and waterfowl.
  • Keep an eye out for the beautiful Pink Lady's Slipper orchid in May and June. 
  • Enjoy amazing year-round views of the river and surrounding landscape from the 50 foot high bluffs overlooking the river. 
  • Many relics from the last can be observed along the trail system. See an old stone homestead from the late 1700’s, huge grain storage structures, internal railway foundations, and many pilings from the sand mining barges.