Money Island (Alloway Creek Wetland Restoration Site)

Sand path through trees

Here’s a place that’s remote in location and information – this one is for the explorers out there!  Money Island is one of the smallest and remote locations in rural Cumberland Co. This preserve sits on the area the Native Americans called “Wootsessunging.” In 1664 the Governor of “New Sweden” established Fort Elisborg not far from here. There are rumors that pirates hid treasure along the forgotten NJ coast on their way home from the Caribbean with their loot. All this rich history belongs to this remote stretch of coastline.

Next To A Nuclear Plant

Fast forward to present times, PSE&G now runs the Salem Nuclear Plant in Southern NJ. I’m not going near this politics, just going to stick to the facts as I found them. PSE& G is the current owner of Money Island and manages over 20,000 acres of wetlands through their Estuary Enhancement Program began in 1996. The purpose is to restore and preserve the spawning and nursery habitat of native aquatic and life and waterfowl. They maintain the two trails here and have built bird blinds and viewing platforms.

Really Great Hiking Spot

Hiking here is relatively simple. Once you have parked, the 1.7mile out and back trail is to your right. The path is comprised of white crushed shells. When we arrived in the Spring, the most striking feature was the abundance of wild yellow irises blooming everywhere. The songs of the red-winged blackbirds hiding in the marshes filled the air. We spotted an osprey and her nest in the first electrical tower we passed.

Make a right at the intersection to head to the bird blind. The smell of salty ocean air was a pleasant surprise. Along the muddy river, we saw turtles and lots of newly hatched fiddler crabs lined the banks. This path makes a nice loop, so you get varied views.

There’s An Observation Tower

Follow the trail next to the Observation Tower. With the gorgeous views, sounds of yellow warblers and red-winged blackbirds, and the salty air, it’s easy to forget for a while the giant nuclear cooling towers off in the distance.

Follow the trail back to the parking lot. There’s a second trail off to the left.  Go to the “Road Closed” sign and walk down the asphalt. In 2/10 mile, you’ll come to the second Observation Tower, with more beautiful views of the bay. As we arrived at this tower, muskrat or beaver went dashing off into the marsh.  We got the feeling this place doesn’t get many two-legged visitors.

Insider Tip: Bring Water & Bug Spray

This is a remote location. Bring water and bug spray. If they post signs warning of greenheads in season, you can trust the threat s real. However, the ability to walk alone in nature in an area teeming with wildlife, it’s well worth it. Captain Kidd may have left some of his buried treasure here, but I say the real gem is these 3,000 acres of wetlands home to so many local and migratory birds.

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