Great Swamp NWR: White Oak Trail

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

Great Swamp NWR

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, including the White Oak 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.

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.

White Oak Trail

After walking the park road, we did the two easy loops by the visitor center. Then we picked up the White Oak Trail across the street. This is an easy one mile trail through fields with boardwalk sections over the wetlands. A Redtail Hawk watched us from a tree.

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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