Township of Long Hill

The Great Swamp

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge extends along the entire northern border of Long Hill Township.  It contains 7768 The Great Swamp - Photo © George Hallacres and is operated by the Fish & Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior.

The Refuge preserves the natural environment of the area and serves as a home for many animals as well as a resting place for migratory birds.  Because of its scientific and natural significance, the Great Swamp NWR has also been designated a Registered National Natural Landmark.

Land for the Great Swamp NWR was initially purchased by local residents and turned over to the federal government in 1964, in order to protect this natural resource from the Port Authority, which was making plans to build the New York City area's fourth jetport on the undeveloped land.

The NWR consists of 2 different areas.

  • The Wilderness area - generally everything east of New Vernon Road - where no roads or development of any kind is permitted.   Natural processes shape the lands and waters in this area.  Trails are minimal, as are signs.   You can walk, cross-country ski, and snowshoe on or off trail throughout this portion of the refuge, to experience nature at its most primitive.
  • The Management area - generally everything west of New Vernon Road - where the NWR staff intensively and scientifically manages the land to benefit a diverse group of plants and wildlife.  Public access is limited to established trails at the Wildlife Observation Center, the Helen C Fenske Visitor Center, and along Pleasant Plains Road.
A very good introduction to the Great Swamp is on the New Jersey Skylands website.
In LHT Great Swamp National Wildlife Reserve
32 Pleasant Plains Rd.
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Fax: 973-425-0173
  • Visit the NWR Helen C Fenske Visitor Center.   From Central Avenue and Long Hill Road, follow Pleasant Plains Road northbound.   Cross White Bridge Road.   Follow Pleasant Plains Rd through the refuge about 2 miles, the visitor will be on your left.
  • Visit the Observation Center.  From Meyersville Circle, drive north on New Vernon Road.  It is about 1.7 miles on your left.
  • Take a hike.  From Meyersville Circle, drive north on New Vernon Road one mile to White Bridge Road, then turn right and park at the dead end.
3 miles Lord Stirling Environmental Education Center
190 Lord Stirling Road
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
From Long Hill Road, turn right at the blinker light onto Basking Ridge Road.  Travel 1.6 miles and turn right onto Lord Stirling Road.  The Center is 1 mile on your left.  A more scenic alternative route is to take New Vernon Road or Pleasant Plains Road or Carlton Road to White Bridge Road. Turn left and follow White Bridge Road until it crosses the Passaic River.  The center is on your right.
  The Lord Stirling Environmental Education Center is operated by the Somerset County Parks Department.  It has a full schedule of educational programs and 8 miles of nature trails on 900 acres on the western side of the Great Swamp.
7 miles Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center
247 Southern Blvd.
Chatham Township
From Meyersville Circle, east on Meyersville Road.  At the end, turn left onto Fairmount Ave. Travel 1.8 miles to the first traffic light and turn left on Southern Blvd.  The OEC is on your left.
  The Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center is operated by the Morris County Park Commission, as a teaching center for natural history.  It borders the east side of the Great Swamp and has 2 miles of trails.  The Center is open 7 days a week, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Trails are open during all daylight hours.  There is a wheelchair-accessible trail.

In LHT Friends of the Great Swamp
148 Pleasant Plains Road
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
An independent, non profit organization dedicated to Promoting the conservation of the natural resources of the Refuge, Fostering public understanding and appreciation of the Refuge, and Engaging in activities that will support the mission of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
The Great Swamp Watershed

The WATERSHED of the Great Swamp covers about 55 square miles and extends from Long Hill as far west as Mendham.  It includes all the land that drains into the Great Swamp.  The shaded area on the map is the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  The NWR "protected" area is only about one-fifth of the total watershed.

Watershed map courtesy of GSWA
Watershed map courtesy of GSWA

10 Towns logo  


The communities in the Watershed participate in a planning and policy group called the Great Swamp Watershed Management Committee (Ten Towns Committee.) On April 30, 2002, the Ten Towns Committee was recognized for excellence by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 

5 miles Great Swamp Watershed Association
P.O. Box 300
New Vernon, NJ 07976
The GSWA is an educational organization that concerns itself with matters that affect the entire WATERSHED of the Great Swamp. 
  Its major involvements are education about environmental issues in the community, and active participation in governmental affairs which threaten the watershed.  The GSWA operates a small preserve in Harding Township on Tiger Lily Road.  I-287 North to Exit 33 (Harter Road).  First right after the ramp and drive to the cul-de-sac.

GSWA always needs volunteers and contributions.

We gratefully acknowledge the many links to the GSWA website which help to make our website complete.