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Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center

linkTrail Guide

247 Southern Boulevard
Chatham Township, NJ 07928

T: (973) 635 - 6629

Hours:
M-F: trails open 8am to sunset. Visitor Center: 8:30am – 4pm
Sat-Sun: trails open 8am to sunset. Visitor Center: 8:30am – 4pm

Directions

Amenities

Step right into nature at one of the region’s most incredible natural areas.

Adjacent to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, this site is a crossroad between nature and civilization. Trek across two miles of flat trails and boardwalks to enjoy views of the swamp, marsh, meadow, pond, and forest habitats. Wildlife is easy to spot, and endangered and threatened species find protection here. Marvel at the ferns and sedges of the swamps, oaks and witch hazel shrubs of the forest, amazing wildflowers, peeps of frogs, songs of migrating birds, and colorful butterflies.

Plan Your Visit

Visitors Center: 8:30am – 4pm

With 2 miles of flat trails and boardwalk, visitors can enjoy the spectacular views of the swamp, marsh, meadow, pond, and forest habitats. Discover the latest wildlife spotted on the trails by checking the sightings board or grab a self-guided trail booklet in the Visitors Center before you head out for your hike. Don’t miss the newly rebuilt model wigwam to see what life was like for the Lenape Indians.

To learn more Trail Courtesy, What to Bring, and other trail tips on how to share this pristine, natural space with each other – check our Trail Resources!

Please Remember

  • Explore our website to confirm our hours of operation and note special announcements or closings.
  • Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes is strictly prohibited.
  • Pets are not permitted at outdoor education centers as per Article XII, Section N of the Morris County Park Commission’s Rules and Regulations.
  • For safety purposes, all trail users must stay on signed/blazed trails or walkways.
  • No bikes are allowed.
Map

Try MCPC Explorer, a web-based, interactive experience where you can view your current location, search parks by activity/amenity, find trails by permitted uses, easily download offline maps to your mobile device, and more! Programs & Activities

Programs & Activitie
  • Stop by the model wigwam to see what life was like for the Lenape Indians
  • Observe live reptiles and insects, including Fluffy our resident turtle
  • Touch and examine a wide variety of natural artifacts
  • Check the wildlife sightings board to learn what was recently spotted on the trails
  • Seasonal programs and activities for visitors of all ages
History

The Great Swamp was created approximately 15,000 years ago by the melting waters of the Wisconsin Glacier, which poured into the natural basin of this area and created prehistoric Lake Passaic. When the lake eventually drained northward, it formed the Passaic River, leaving behind the rich soil from which the Great Swamp flora would grow. This incredible natural oasis was almost lost in the late 1950s when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey promoted a plan to change the land into an international jetport.

Fortunately, through the tireless efforts of grassroots activists, and state and local government officials, the Great Swamp basin was preserved in perpetuity as a National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Including all the public lands, this area now covers approximately 8,000 acres and extends seven miles across and three miles wide. The Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center was opened in 1963, one year before the federal refuge was established, as the Morris County Park Commission’s contribution to the preservation efforts.