Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

16,251 acres — 2.5 miles of trails

What’s to love

Once upon a time, before a website like this one existed, we decided to visit the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge on a whim without being aware of several key facts. Namely:

  • The main 12-mile loop of the park is a driving tour. Or biking, if you have wide tires!
  • You have to pay to enter. That’ll be $4 cash, please.

If you make it over those two logistical hurdles, Bombay Hook is a one-of-a-kind experience. There are hiking trails here—5 to be exact—but they’re short, and typically designed to lead you to a specific viewpoint of the expansive tidal marsh. Some travel through woods, some are actual boardwalks along the water’s edge, and some have observation towers for optimal birdwatching.

This is, above all else, a place for birders, and you’ll see many of them parked along the driving tour route. For migratory birds, Bombay Hook is a critical link in a chain of refuges that stretches from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey co-mingle here at the refuge’s four large water impoundments and 1,000 acres of open fields. There’s an incredible amount of wildlife on display at Bombay Hook. Look up in that tree! It’s an egret. Look down at the shore! It’s a diamondback terrapin. Look under that log! It’s a huge rat snake. It’s probably harmless, but back away slowly.

Tips and quirks

  • In case it’s not clear from the trail map, you access the hiking trails by driving to their entrance points and parking in the small lots you’ll find there. There are bike racks if you want to attempt this by bike. The path isn’t great for road tires, but anything wider than that should be fine.
  • The remarkably well-preserved Allee House, which you can also find along the driving tour, dates back to 1753 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s one of the best-kept examples of an early brick farmhouse, but it’s currently undergoing restoration efforts.
  • During World War II, Bombay Hook was home to an aerial rocket research program! A ruined building dating back to this time can be found along the Parson Point trail.

Spotted here recently (via )

Last updated: April 16, 2021