Trail Guides
Cape May Point State Park

Lighthouse Ave, Cape May Point, NJ 08212
Phone: (609) 884-2159

OWNER:  NJ Department of Environmental Protection

DIRECTIONS:  Return to Lighthouse Ave. and turn Right. After 1⁄2 mile, turn Left into the Cape May Point State Park entrance.   Map
ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk. Very large parking area on site. No swimming allowed.

Entry to the park and nature/history museum is free, but a fee is required to enter the Lighthouse.

Winter:  Large numbers of American Woodcock, Yellow-rumped Warbler, wintering songbirds, and an occasional owl or river otter can be found along the boardwalks and trails. Or bundle up and scan the ocean for sea ducks and other waterfowl.
Spring:  The return of Purple Martin to their “apartments” in the active colony marks the beginning of spring for many local Purple Martin enthusiasts. These glossy-purple aerial acrobats voraciously eat many flying insects including gnats, greenhead flies, and dragonflies. Now is also a great time for viewing reptiles and amphibians as they emerge from winter, and before the vegetation becomes too overgrown.
Summer:  An early morning or late afternoon walk along the beach can yield views of federally endangered Piping Plovers, in addition to a variety of tern species and other shorebirds. Take precautions if you plan to brave the trails, as it is also the season of biting insects. Please note, many people come to the State Park as it offers free beach access, so the parking lot may fill up early.
Fall:  Hawk watching may be the primary attraction, yet songbird and seabird migration are equally impressive and just as easily observed from the viewing platforms. Monarch butterfly migration can be witnessed, as well. These colorful orange and black butterflies meander their way down the coastal dunes, nectaring from seaside goldenrod and a variety of other fall blooming flowers.

SITE DESCRIPTION:  As a vantage point for witnessing the spectacle of migrating hawks, eagles, and falcons, the Cape May Point State Park is without parallel in North America. More Peregrine Falcon and Osprey are tallied in each fall season than many birders will see in a lifetime. Add a picturesque lighthouse, a network of trails and boardwalks, a white sandy beach, viewing platforms and covered picnic areas, and you’ve got hours worth of nature-infused outdoor recreation. Check for free state-run nature programs.

DON'T MISS:  a visit to the world-renowned Cape May Hawk Watch, conducted by New Jersey Audubon Society’s research department. On any day from September 1st to November 30th, you are likely to find a crew of Associate Naturalists, the “official” hawk counter, and visiting hawk lovers with their necks craned to the sky. Let the naturalists and local volunteers help you identify any of the 19 species of raptor that might soar by heading south for the winter.

A CLOSER LOOK:  In early spring, as many as five species of snakes may be seen basking by the trail sides, particularly those intersecting water, and an equal number of frogs may be seen or heard in the park. Keep your eyes on the trail edges, as most visitors are liable to be unaware (some probably happily so!) of this great opportunity to observe wild reptiles. And don’t worry. There are no native poisonous snakes on Cape Island.

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