Places We Protect

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve

New Jersey

Aerial view of a stream and wetlands at Maurice River Bluffs Preserve.
Maurice River The 535-acre preserve gets its name from the majestic bluffs overlooking the Maurice River. © TNC

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

Overview

Description

Named for its majestic rounded cliffs overlooking the 35.4-mile “Wild and Scenic” Maurice River, this 500-acre preserve offers hilly terrain not often found in southern New Jersey. 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 insects that make their home here.

 Visitors will enjoy the site’s many amenities, including six miles of hiking trails with a 35-foot long bridge, steps and rails on steeper inclines, multiple benches and picnic tables, an information kiosk, bird blind enclosure, floating dock and a thrilling six-mile mountain biking trail, designed following International Mountain Biking Association standards. 

TNC protected lands like the Maurice River Bluffs provide critical lands and waters for some of New Jersey's most endangered species

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Leashed dogs permitted

Hours

Open year-round during daylight hours.

Highlights

Trails, hiking, wildlife viewing, historical remnants, mountain biking

Size

535 acres

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Photos from Maurice River Bluffs

Tag your preserve visits on Instagram with #MauriceRiverBluffs to get a chance to be featured here!

Tall trees with fall leaves are against a light blue sky.
A bald eagle is flying over a forest.
Preserve visitors are pushing their kayaks off of the shore.
A small skipper buttferfly is pollinating a mountain laurel flower.
A wood frog is surrounded by leaves on a forest floor.
Tulip tree flowers are in full bloom.
A bright purple mushroom is surrounded by fallen leaves.
A downy woodpecker is resting on a tree trunk.
An eastern box turtle is looking directly at the camera.
A great horned owl is flying above tall marsh grasses.

Visit

  • Other Preserve Amenities
    • Five trails with varying levels of difficulty

    • Welcome kiosk with trail map and preserve history 

    • Hills and valleys that are not typically found in Southern NJ 

    • Artisian well 

    • Floating dock 

    • Bird Blind 

    • Multiple picnic tables and benches throughout preserve 

    • Outdoor classroom 

    • Osprey platform visible from floating dock

    • Steps for steep areas 

    • 35ft bridge with handrails 

    • 50 car parking lot 

    • Kayak access on the Blue Trail 

    • Historic remains including an old stone farm house from the 1700s  

    • Internal railway foundations and pilings from sand mining barges.  

    • Six miles of mountain bike trails that follow International Mountain Biking Association standards 

  • Peak Times
    • Our preserves change with the seasons. Here's what you can see right now. 

    • Spring Migration: Mid-May to mid-June marks peak activity for migrating songbirds. Migrating and year-round songbirds are most audible and visible during this time, as they are attracting mates. 

    • After a rainy spring day is the best time to see hundreds of mushrooms throughout the trails. 

    • Bald Eagle adults and juveniles are in the nest which can be seen from the floating dock.  

    • June, July and August are the best months to catch a glimpse of the osprey chicks. With a scope or binoculars, they are visible from the floating dock. During these months the chicks can be seen being fed, learning to fly, and resting on the perch posts. 

    • Fall Migration: Starting late August-October, fall migration for southbound songbirds and raptors takes place. The second week of October is the peak of raptor migration activity. 

    • Late October is when autumn foliage peaks. 

    • Late November-March waterfowl activity on the river and internal pond is at peak activity. 

  • Preserve Guidelines
    • Hiking trails are permitted to foot traffic only 

    • Bike trails are permitted to bikers only, no foot traffic

    • Take precaution at hiking and biking trail intersections 

    • Bikers, please yield to pedestrians 

    • All dogs must be on a leash and must be picked up after 

    • Visitors should stay on marked trails 

    • Please carry out all garbage with you 

    • The use of ATVs is prohibited 

    • Camping and campfires are prohibited 

An aerial view of the Maurice River Bluffs forests.
Maurice River Bluffs The Maurice River Bluffs provides important habitat for migratory and year-round avian species. © TNC

Background

What is now the Maurice River Bluffs preserve was once a hub for sand mining and production of chicken feed for nearby farms, with piers built along the river and hundreds of horses stabled on the property to move the materials. Those operations closed in 1950 and a local family farmed the site for fruits and vegetables until 1989. Remnants of ...

What is now the Maurice River Bluffs preserve was once a hub for sand mining and production of chicken feed for nearby farms, with piers built along the river and hundreds of horses stabled on the property to move the materials. Those operations closed in 1950 and a local family farmed the site for fruits and vegetables until 1989. Remnants of structures from the preserve’s history can still be seen along the trails today. 

The Nature Conservancy acquired Maurice River Bluffs in 1992. The preserve provides crucial stopover habitat for migrating and breeding birds like bald eagles, and hosts productive freshwater ponds that are havens for dragonflies and unique plant communities, including some of the largest wild rice marshes in the state. 

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Mountain Bike Trail

The mountain bike trail at the Maurice River Bluffs preserve is one of the few trails in southern New Jersey that offers elevation change. Designed following International Mountain Biking Association standards, this exciting trail is suitable for both beginning and experienced riders. Berms and small jumps provide thrilling obstacles for experienced riders. Riders should be vigilant at all times, as certain parts of the mountain bike trail intersect with the hiking trail. Mountain bike riders should yield to hikers.

Mountain Biking at Maurice River Bluffs Designed to be accessible for beginners while still exciting for experienced riders, our 6 mile mountain biking trail at our Maurice River Bluffs Preserve is fun for all!

Nearby Preserves

Can't get enough of nature? Visit The Nature Conservancy's other preserves.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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