Are there family-friendly activities?
Yes. Most of the refuge is fairly flat so that people of all ages and most abilities can find a trail suitable for the amount of time they want to spend, activity or wildlife they wish to observe.
The refuge is a haven for nature, birds, mammals, flora, insects and more, and can be very educational for children. In addition, Friends of WRNWR offers various activities, including Junior Refuge Manager. Check back in 2021, when their new Nature store will open.
It is handicapped accessible?
At Owens Station, there is a handicapped-accessible dock for fishing and for kayakers. Recently, about a 2-mile stretch has been paved at Owens and stretches over to Liberty Loop. There are excellent wildlife viewing opportunities along this stretch, and you may fish along the Owens portion of the path.
Are there dangerous animals at the refuge?
In general, it there are no dangerous animals at the refuge. The most dangerous threat is to be bitten by an infected tick, undetected, which could lead to Lyme Disease. Ticks are common on Deer, which are abundant throughout the refuge. They are also very common in grasslands and wherever deer forage.
What is the best way to prevent tick bites?
Wear light-colored clothes, tuck socks into pants, a bug repellant may help, do a quick inspections frequently, perhaps every 15 minutes, to see if you have any “hitchhikers”. They can usually just be “flicked” off if they are on your clothing.
One of the best ways to prevent tick bits is to spray your clothes with Permethrin, an insecticide, medication which is also a pesticide. This spray should only be used outside and away from pets, small animals and children.
Spray clothing outdoors, such as hiking boots and shoes, pants, backpacks and more, allow to dry thoroughly. As an insecticide, it will kill insects that touch the treated articles.
Unlike insect repellent, Permethrin can irritate skin via direct contact and can also cause breathing problems to vulnerable populations if inhaled or used indoors.
If you are looking for a more natural repellent, Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Fisherman’s Formula is a long-lasting insect repellent against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and more.
Are there a lot of mosquitoes at the refuge?
Depending on the season, especially in the summer, mosquitoes can become a nuisance. Since most of the refuge is surrounded by wetlands, ponds or the Wallkill River, mosquitoes can become prevalent.
Take caution by wearing long sleeves and pants, a hat, and using bug spray, like Off. If you are concerned about chemicals, Repel Lemon Eucalyptus is deet-free and repels mosquitoes for up to six hours. The active ingredient is Oil of lemon eucalyptus 30% (smells good, too!). Natrapel 8 Hour is another natural remedy against mosquitoes, with an active ingredient of Picaridin (20%), also a common ingredient in Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula, mentioned above.
Other than ticks and mosquitoes, snakes can be found on most trails, although most pose no harm. Black bears may be spotted; most of the time they will run away soon after they are spotted. However, if they do not move, appear grounded or grunt, and begin to back away slowly. Waves your arms high and make a lot of noise to “shoo” them away. Do not run. For more tips on Black Bear safety, know the Bear Facts from NJ DEP.
Are there restrooms at the Refuge?
Yes, there are flushing toilets at the Main Refuge Headquarters. There are also pit toilets at Owens Station. However, due to Covid, many restroom facilities in public lands were closed. Check the refuge headquarters for the latest information.
Where can I park?
Depending on your desired activity, there are limited amounts of parking throughout the refuge. The main Headquarters and Owens have the most parking spaces, enough for about 30 vehicles. Other facilities offer an average of 10 vehicles per lot. Weekends tend to be more popular visiting times and fill up faster. Plan accordingly.
Where can I find maps of the refuge?
Here is a PDF Map of the refuge: Refuge Map
Interested in getting more involved? Visit the Friends of Wallkill River NWR for family activities, education / outreach, volunteer opportunities, make a donation, and new developments for 2021.
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit year-round. It offers an abundance of photography opportunities for birds in flight, wildlife, flowers, insects, landscapes and more. There are some easy trails for a short stroll or connect with the Appalachian Trail for more extensive hiking. You can also go fishing, kayaking, canoeing and in certain areas, hunting. If you are walking your dog (only in approved areas), please keep it on a leash at all times, clean up waste immediately and carry it out. Please remember that first and foremost, this space is to provide the best habitat for wildlife to thrive and survive. Enjoy and respect nature!
Products recommended in this post, available on Amazon: