Places We Protect

Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve

New Jersey

Dense swampy forest.
Forest at Lizard Tail Swamp Lizard Tail Swamp forest habitats are a mix of pine and deciduous trees. © The Nature Conservancy

Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve is home to a lush and diverse habitat.

Overview

Description

Situated in the outer coastal plain on the Cape May Peninsula and within the richly diverse Cape May Forest, Lizard Tail Swamp Nature Preserve is home to a lush and diverse habitat. The nature preserve protects a globally rare Cape May lowland swamp community located at the headwaters of Bidwell Creek. Bidwell Creek, which flows into the Delaware Bay, provides sediment to surrounding beaches and salt marsh that birds like the red knot depend on for stopover habitat during migration. 

The Nature Conservancy has developed a trail system on the nature preserve funded through a grant received from the Federal Highway Administration and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The three-mile trail system allows for visitor access while avoiding sensitive ecological areas. Visitors can enjoy the amenities situated within the trails, such as an information kiosk, picnic tables, benches, and footbridges. 

TNC protected lands like the Lizard Tail Swamp 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, bird-watching, wildlife viewing

Size

847.81 acres

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Photos from Lizard Tail Swamp

Tag your preserve visits on Instagram with #LizardTailSwamp to have your photos featured here!

Lizard tail plants blooming in a low wetland.
An ovenbird perched on a branch.
A spotted tiger beetle climbing up bark.
A red admiral butterfly is perched on a yellow flower.
A footbridge runs over a small creek.
A southern leopard frog is in a grassy wetland.
A red-bellied woodpecker is perched in a tree.
Ghost pipe is growing on the forest floor.
A pine warbler is perched in a maple tree.
A nature trail is winding through the woods.

Visit

  • What to See

    Plants: Along the trails and throughout the preserve, visitors can enjoy a variety of natural communities like pine-oak forest, coastal plain mixed-oak forest, and sweet gum and red maple swamps. Keep an eye out for the plant that inspired the preserve's name, the lizard's tail plant. The lizard’s tail is a 1-to 4-foot tall perennial plant that thrives in the moist, shady soil of bogs and marshes. Its tiny, white flowers bloom in summer, growing in tapering spikesthat droop at the tip—resembling...a lizard’s tail!

    Animals: Lizard Tail Swamp Nature Preserve protects a number of exciting species, including the nothern fence lizard. The preserves' wetlands and forests provide optimal habitat for this species, as well as a handful of notable amphibians like carpenter frogs, leopard frogs, and New Jersey chorus frogs. Cooper's hawks and other migrating raptors soar in the skies above, while American goldfinches, pine warblers, ovenbirds, and many other songbirgs flutter through the forests below. Lizard Tail's fields and forests are also part-time winter homes to American woodcocks.

    Check out recent bird sightings and report your own!

  • Other Preserve Amenities
    • Three miles of foot trails
    • Information kiosk with trail map and preserve history
    • Benches along trails
    • Picnic table along the Yellow Trail
    • Multiple footbridges
    • Paved parking lot
    • Bike rack
  • Preserve Guidelines
    To minimize disturbance of state-protected and endangeres species of this nature preserve, please follow these guidelines.
    • From October 1st - January 31st, hunting by permit occurs on the far end of the Lizard Tail Swamp property. Although these activities don't take place near the hiking trails, it is suggested to wear bright colors on your visits during these months.
    • 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.
    • Trails are open to foot traffic only. 
Green, heart-shaped leaves and a fluffy white flower.
Lizard Tail Plant Flowers are aromatic, rich in nectar and they attract bees and other pollinators which are responsible for the pollination of this plant. © Public domain

Background

Lizard Tail Swamp was once almost turned into a housing subdivision, but The Nature Conservancy, working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, preserved the 848 acres of forest, field and sensitive wetlands in 1997. The site needed restoration, too: drainage ditches dug by the developer sapped water from the wetlands, and ...

Lizard Tail Swamp was once almost turned into a housing subdivision, but The Nature Conservancy, working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, preserved the 848 acres of forest, field and sensitive wetlands in 1997. The site needed restoration, too: drainage ditches dug by the developer sapped water from the wetlands, and plants and trees were dying off. We plugged the ditches to keep water in the swamp and planted native trees like dogwood and sassafras which grow nutritious fruits that visiting songbirds eat to fuel up for their migrations. Cape May County is especially important in the fall migrations of songbirds and hawks that have only just hatched in the summer. While adult eastern songbirds and hawks migrate further north, along the Kittatinny Ridge and Appalachians, young birds migrate along the coast at places like Cape May, making this area critical to maintaining and even increasing bird populations. 

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Nearby Preserves

Need more 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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