Coastal Heritage Trail
New Jersey's heritage has been shaped by its close association with the ocean. Lighthouses protect busy shipping lanes while resorts thrive on sandy ocean beaches. Fishing villages are tucked into safe bays and wide cranberry bogs flourish in reclaimed marshes. New Jersey's strategic location between Philadelphia and New York encourages the fullest use of every coastal resource.
The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail (NJCHT) was established in 1988 to enhance the enjoyment of the significant natural and cultural sites along the state's coast. It encompasses the area east of the Garden State Parkway from the Raritan Bay south to Cape May and the area north and west of Cape May south of Route 49 to the vicinity of Deepwater.
The Trail is being developed cooperatively by the National Park Service, the State of New Jersey, and many organizations working to preserve the state's natural and cultural heritage. The trail is still growing -- as new sites are added they will be identified by the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail logo.
The NJCHT is divided into five regions linked by the common heritage of life on the Jersey Shore and Raritan and Delaware bays: Sandy Hook Region, Barnegat Region, Absecon and Cape May Regions, and Delsea Region. Each region will eventually have a Welcome Center with information and exhibits. Interim Welcome Centers are currently being developed. Trail literature is also available at local information centers.
Five themes define different aspects of coastal life . . .
Maritime History: Learn about the interdependence of people and the sea and their struggle both to use the ocean and to protect themselves from it. Explore lighthouses, life saving stations, forts and fishing villages, all in existence because of maritime trade.
Coastal Communities: Abundant natural resources shaped the economies of New Jersey's coastal communities from prehistoric times to the present. Minerals from the soil supported special industries, and marshy lands encouraged unique agricultural crops. Visit cranberry bogs and salt hay meadows, or learn about iron and glass making, all examples of how people earn their living from the lands by sea and bay.
Relaxation and Inspiration: The Jersey Shore enjoys a long tradition as a destination for those seeking fun in the sun, a quiet rest, or inspiration. Explore amusement parks, historic hotels, and boardwalks, as well as religious retreats. The Delaware Bay shore has traditionally attracted sport fishermen, crabbers, hunters, and birders. Discover the special appeal of these coastal rivers, bays, and marshes.
Wildlife Migration: The New Jersey coast is a vital stop in the global migration of many birds and sea mammals. Dolphins, whales, osprey, and eagles are just a few animals that can be found along the coast. Discover sites that serve as seasonal refuge for a variety of threatened species.
Coastal Habitats: The changing boundary between land and water forms many different habitats from sandy beaches to fertile salt marshes to dense maritime forests. Visit barrier islands, wetlands, estuaries, bays, and rivers that serve as home for a rich diversity of plant and animal life.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication