Glades Wildlife Refuge
Glades Wildlife Refuge is an expanse of diverse landscapes: vast tidal marshes, wooded uplands, beaches along the Delaware Bay, and a remarkable old growth forest. Here the cycles and rhythm of the natural world are evident in the seasonal weather, migrating birds, and fluctuating tides.
Grasses that tolerate tidal, brackish water dominate Glades, such as salt hay. These grasses provide rich habitat for crustaceans, mollusks, and birds, and are an important food source for ducks and other waterfowl. In addition, the grasses filter pollutants from the water and buffer the shoreline from flooding and erosion.
The refuge also includes forested swamps where sweetgum, holly, and red maple jockey for position with pitch pines. A section of old-growth forest, known as Bear Swamp, includes sourgum trees that are more than 450 years old.
Every May, thousands of horseshoe crabs leave the ocean depths to spawn on the moonlit beaches of the Delaware Bay. The eggs, full of fat and protein, are critical sustenance for migrating Red Knots, which lose up to half their body weight in their grueling journey from South America. An estimated 90 percent of the entire population of these federally-threatened shore birds can be found on the Bay—including Raybin’s Beach at Glades Wildlife Refuge—in a single day. After a century of decline, the population of horseshoe crabs is now holding steady.
The refuge is part of four “Important Bird Areas” (a National Audubon Society designation).
1. Main information kiosk is located at Turkey Point Rd. and Maple Ave.
2. Additional trailhead parking is located throughout the preserve. See trail map for details.
In 1964, Natural Lands celebrated the preservation of what was once called “Snow Goose Marsh,” an area of brackish wetlands along the coast of Delaware Bay. The fledgling preserve was the result of a donation of several contiguous parcels, the smallest of which was a mere 1.6 acres. Despite its humble beginnings, Glades Wildlife Refuge is now the largest of Natural Lands’ preserves, the result of nearly five decades of patient, persistent acquisition of adjoining lands.
back from the brink
Due to habitat loss and a pesticide known as DDT, the population of Bald Eagles in New Jersey had been steadily declining until, by 1970, only a single nesting pair remained. So Natural Lands staff, under the direction of state and federal wildlife experts, constructed a “hacking box” atop a tall tower. The box was used to safely rear eaglets brought from Canada. A total of 45 Bald Eagles were raised and released from the Glades hack boxes!