Exploring Cedar Bonnet Environmental Trail!

Welcome to Cedar Bonnet Island

Welcome to Cedar Bonnet Island! Cedar Bonnet Island is part of the 47,000 acre Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The property was owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife back in the 1990’s but was not accessible to the public until the June 2018.


The wetlands and uplands that comprise Cedar Bonnet Island were severely degraded during the 1950’s due to sediment that was dumped there to create navigational channels.

45 acres of wetlands and uplands of Cedar Bonnet Island were mitigated and restored as part of the Route 72 bridge project. A one mile walking path and two open shelters were created/added for the public on Cedar Bonnet Island. 19 acres of salt marsh was recreated and 18 acres of upland was created. The uplands were created 20 feet above sea level. The 9.6 million dollar mitigation project began in February 2015.


Cedar Bonnet Environmental Trail Trail Map

Welcome! Today we are going to explore the one mile long gravel path which explores the different habitats of Cedar Bonnet Island!

Trail 2

As we walk notice the flowering plants blooming on the side of the trail. The white flowers which we see is known as Common Boneset. The plant is favored by pollinators such as butterflies.

Upland Habitat

The Uplands we see on Cedar Bonnet Island are located above the tidal flood zone. The Diamondback Terrapin uses the uplands of Cedar Bonnet Island for nesting purposes. Birds, especially migratory birds use the uplands for food and rest. Due to the location of the uplands irregular flooding may occur due to storms.

In addition to the Diamond Back Terrapin, reptiles which may be found on Cedar Bonnet Island include:

Marsh with Forest Community

As we walk further notice that the uplands are giving way to high salt marsh. High salt marsh only floods twice a month during the new and full moons.

Typical flora found in the uplands include:

Salt Marsh with Meadow

Here we see high salt marsh in the foreground with low salt marsh in the background.

Low Salt Marsh floods twice daily. Low salt marsh is dominated by Saltmarsh Cordgrass.

Salt marshes help to prevent erosion of land and help to absorb pollution. Salt Marshes are also a nursery to all kind of fish which means all kinds of birds! There is an estimated 245,000 acres of salt marsh in New Jersey.

Salt marshes do not contain a huge variety of plants due to the fact that plants found in the salt marsh evolved to having their roots submerged in salt water.

Flora found in High salt marsh includes:

Areas where Common Reed are present indicate manmade disturbance. Common Reed is an invasive species and thrives wherever disturbance has destroyed the original wetland vegetation.

Common fauna of coastal marshes include:

An unfortunate (for us humans) creature of the salt marsh is the Greenhead (AKA Horsefly) who would love to get our blood.

Bee on flowers

Eastern Carpenter Bee on Common Boneset

Cedar Bonnet Island contains acres of important pollinator habitat. The habitat consists of many flowering plants including Boneset, Partridge Pea and Black-Eyed Susans among other species.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly on Boneset

We see evidence of many butterflies and bees taking advantage of the flowers as we walk!


Cloudless Sulphur (a bit on the blurry side)

Seaside Goldenrod

Seaside Goldenrod

Patridge Pea

Partridge Pea

That concludes our tour of Cedar Bonnet Island! I hope that it has inspired you to go and check it out in person!

The preserve is located off of exit 63 on the Garden State Parkway heading east on the bridge to Long Beach Island NJ (image below taken from the Edwin B. Forsythe webpage).

Trail Map

Great Books about Salt Marshes!

Salt Marshes: A Natural and Unnatural History

A Day in the Salt Marsh (Arbordale Collection)

Check out the latest bird sightings here!

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!

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