April 2009: Cattus Island County Park

Toms River, New Jersey

Much of the New Jersey coastline is comprised of barrier islands, behind which calm bays and marshes beckon outdoor adventurers. During the Revolutionary War, patriots used this peninsula jutting into Barnegat Bay to offload cargo from captured British frigates. In quieter times farmers harvested salt hay from the marshes. Private owners bought Cattus Island in 1961 but before it could be developed the New Jersey Wetlands Act of 1970 saved it for open space.

A paved and unpaved road runs for one mile down the spine of the 500-acre Cattus Island peninsula. Two main trails loop across the road and a smaller loop radiates off it near the end for a total of five miles of walking paths. Come here for relaxed canine hiking on level paths through the maritime forests and salt marshes. Cattus Island is one of the best places in New Jersey to take your dog for a swim. The Island Loop touches briefly on the frisky waves of Mosquito Cove from a small sand beach and a longer stretch of sand on the open waters of the Silver Bay at the end of the unpaved road will excite any dog. If your dog prefers a more peaceful body of water try the namesake patch of sand on the Barnegat Bay from the Hidden Beach Loop.

Garden State Parkway to Exit 82 - Route 37 EAST/Seaside Heights. Take jughandle to Fischer Blvd., then approx. 3 miles to Cattus Island Blvd. Turn right at light, and left at Park entrance.