Great Swamp NWR: Bockoven

Bockoven Trail
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Great Swamp NWR

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, including the Bockoven Trail, protects 7800 acres of wetlands and forested areas that are an important migratory rest stop and habitat for over 200 species of birds and other wildlife. I revisited the refuge recently with Take A Hike NJ.

Great Swamp was once the Glacial Lake Passaic formed by the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier at the end of the last Ice Age. Today, the watershed feeds the Passaic River and serves to ease floodwaters and provides water purification for the surrounding water supply.

Bockoven Trail

We met at the Helen C Fenske Visitor Center early in the morning. Fenske was a community activist who campaigned to stop the Port Authority of NY/NJ from building an airport in the wetlands in the 1960s. Fenske’s grass-roots organizations bought up parcels of lands and donated them to the federal government for inclusion in the refuge.

Bockoven Trail

Bockoven Trail

After walking the park road, we did the two easy loops by the visitor center. The Nature Detective Trail is a .2 mile loop with educational signs designed for schoolchildren. From there, it’s easy to pick up the half-mile Bockoven Trail which leads down through an old-growth forest to the Passaic River. Below is a virtual walk on that trail, courtesy of the Friends of Great Swamp NWR.

Virtual walk on Bockoven Trail with Friends of the Great Swamp NWR volunteer Tom Gula

Great Swamp Posts

Location: 32 Pleasant Plains Rd, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Designation: National Wildlife Refuge
Date designated/established: May 1966
Date of my visit: January 23, 2021

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