Far From the Maddening Crowd
The beach is a great place to get back to nature. These refuges and preserves offer plenty of it. By kayak, bicycle or on foot, there is plenty to explore.
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The Edward H. McCabe Preserve and Pemberton Forest Preserve
Milton, 654-4707, nature.org
In 1993 Constance P. McCabe donated land to the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy to honor her husband’s memory. Those 143 acres are now a destination for nature lovers, who come by water and by land.
Boaters can start in Milton Memorial Park, then glide down the Broadkill River toward the preserve. Debark at the dock, then go exploring. For those coming by land, the head of a three-mile hiking trail is east of Milton along Sussex 257. There is a roadside parking area.
This is a true preserve, which means leave your pets, horses, ATVs and bikes at home, and don’t pick the plants.
To the west of Milton is Pemberton Forest Preserve, which features the 456-acre Pemberton Branch Tract and the newly opened 908-acre Ponders Tract, acquired in 2004 from the Glatfelter Pulpwood Co. Located on Del. 16, about two miles from its intersection with Del. 30, the area has nine miles of hiking and walking trails.
“We’ve been trying to bring the diversity back,” says Debbie Heaton, senior director of philanthropy for the Delaware Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “It was once a loblolly pine plantation, and now hardwood is springing up.”
Look for: In 1996 a five-acre area of the McCabe Preserve was planted with more than 2,000 native tree seedlings, including red and white oaks, green ash and black gum. Today it is an emerging forest that attracts migratory songbirds. The preserve also protects a swamp of Atlantic white cedar. To pinpoint a white cedar, look for a reddish-brown fibrous trunk and evergreen, scale-like leaves. You might spot great blue herons, red-bellied woodpeckers, Carolina chickadees, Eastern bluebirds and Eastern towhees.
In Pemberton and Ponders, there are ring-billed gulls, downy woodpeckers, tufted titmouse, Carolina wrens and prairie warblers. In the meadow areas, osprey, bald eagles and sharpshin hawks like to hunt for prey. “As the forest changes and grows, the birds will change,” Heaton says.
Page 3: Cape Henlopen State Park