South Jersey’s coastline is primarily made up of a series of barrier islands, separated every ten miles or so by bays, inlets, and other passages to the inland waterways that separate them from the mainland. Just south of the popular vacation destination of Ocean City, you’ll find Corson’s Inlet and Corson’s Inlet State Park. We’re taking a closer look at this under-the-radar section of the shore in this State Park Spotlight.
What is Corson’s Inlet?
Corson’s Inlet refers to the body of water that separates the Strathmere section of Ludlam Island from the next island north (sometimes known as Pecks Beach), home to Ocean City. The small inlet is home to a remarkably diverse selection of natural life both on land and in the water.
Corson’s Inlet State Park was established in 1969 to protect this area. At the time, it was one of the last remaining undeveloped tracts of land along the New Jersey shore. In addition to recreational opportunities like hiking, fishing, and enjoying the beach, the park is also home to habitats for several endangered or threatened plants and animals.
Corson’s Inlet is also the name of one of the best-known poems by American poet A.R. Ammons, who was a longtime resident of the area.
Where Is Corson’s Inlet State Park?
Address: Bay Ave, County Hwy 619, Ocean City, NJ 08226
By Car: Corson’s Inlet State Park is located just a few miles south of Ocean City in Cape May County, NJ. Like much of the southern Jersey Shore, the barrier island is best accessed via the Garden State Parkway. Coming from the north, the island can be accessed via exits for Somers Point, followed by NJ Route 52, or Ocean Drive if you’re in the Atlantic City or Margate/Ventnor area. Coming from the south or west, the Parkway’s exit for Roosevelt Boulevard will take you to Ocean City, or you can arrive directly at the park via Bay Avenue from Strathmere. Driving from Philadelphia will take 1-1.5 hours, while a trip from New York City will generally take 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic.
Once you’ve reached Ocean City, it’s only a few minutes drive south to the park. You’ll find a moderately-sized free parking area near the bridge.
Corson’s Inlet State Park Trail Map
Despite its small size, Corson’s Inlet State Park offers several short trails for hikers and walkers to explore. They’re all fairly brief, but provide a nice look at the varied habitats in this natural area.
Ocean Trail (0.3 miles) – Yellow Blaze – This trail departs from the parking area on the northern end of the Corson’s Inlet bridge. It heads southeast through coastal forests that transition into dunes before ending at the ocean. While this trail offers shade from the various trees and other vegetation, be warned that the bugs can be very persistent and will swarm if you linger too long, so it’s best to keep moving.
Fox Run Trail (0.45 miles) – Red Blaze – The Fox Run Trail begins about three-quarters of the way down the Ocean Trail. The path will split, and those looking to walk the Fox Run Trail should turn left. For about a half-mile, this path continues through the trees and dune brush before ending on the beach near Central Avenue.
Rail Trail (0.4 miles) – Green Blaze – The Rail Trail traces the former path of a local railroad through the upper dunes of the area. It dead-ends, which means you’ll need to head back the way you came, making it a nearly mile-long hike in total.
Inlet Trail (0.02 miles) – Orange Blaze – It’s hard to call this a trail, as it’s really just a few dozen steps that take you from the Ocean Trail toward the beach near the Corson’s Inlet bridge. While the trail may not be anything to write home about, the beach is quite nice despite the proximity to the bridge. However, swimming is not allowed due to the environmentally sensitive nature of the area.
Can You Camp At Corson’s Inlet State Park?
With such a beautiful and peaceful place such a short drive from tourist destinations like Ocean City, NJ, you may be wondering if you can pitch a tent and stay the night. Unfortunately, Corson’s Inlet State Park camping is not allowed. But if you had your heart set on sleeping in the great outdoors, don’t worry too much. South Jersey has many campgrounds of varying price and quality, usually located a bit further inland.
Can I Bring My Dog To Corson’s Inlet State Park?
Whether or not you can legally bring your dog to Corson’s Inlet State Park depends on the time of year. From April 1 through September 15, dogs are not allowed. For the rest of the year, feel free to bring your pup, but make sure they’re always on a leash no longer than six feet. As always, make sure you’re ready to pick up after your dog if they go to the bathroom. There are no trash cans in the park, so be prepared to take any waste out with you.
Corson’s Inlet Fishing
Anglers, take note. Corson’s Inlet and the waters of the state park are excellent spots for fishing. You’ll find bluefish, kingfish, striped bass, and weakfish, among others. This diversity is prized in the fishing community. Fishing is best in the area between March and December.
Is Corson’s Inlet State Park Worth A Visit?
Corson’s Inlet State Park may be small, but it’s a worthy member of New Jersey’s impressive state and county park system. While it may not be worth a trip on its own, combining a visit with some time in nearby Ocean City, Atlantic City, Wildwood, or Cape May is an excellent way to experience both the manmade and natural wonders that the shore has to offer.