Trail Guides
Columbia Wildlife Management Area

County Road 605, Knowlton Township, NJ
Phone: (609) 984-0547 (973) 383-0918

OWNER:  NJ Department of Environmental Protection

DIRECTIONS:  Turn Left onto CR 616/Cedar Lake Road. After about 3.0 miles, continue on CR 616 at junction with CR 655. In 1.4 miles, pass under I-80, and after another 0.8 miles, turn Right onto Linaberry Road on the Right. There are parking areas on Linaberry Road. Continue to stop sign at CR 605 and turn right and head North on CR 605 crossing back under I-80. After 0.8 miles look for the Columbia Lake sign, turn Left into dirt road and proceed to parking area at the end. To reach additional parking from Columbia Lake, turn Right onto CR 605 South and after 0.8 miles turn Right onto Walnut Road. Look for a N.J. Division Fish and Wildlife sign. Less than 0.1 miles turn Right into the parking area for the pond. To reach the upper fields trailhead from Columbia Lake, turn Right onto CR 605 South and after 0.8 miles turn Right onto Walnut Road. After 0.3 miles turn Right into parking area for upperfields trailhead. To reach Delaware Lake from Columbia Lake, turn Right onto CR 605 South. After 1.3 miles turn Left into driveway for Heirloom Seed Society. The driveway is before the house, stay to the Left and follow the road down to lake. To reach the westernmost end of the Paulinskill Valley Trail from Columbia Lake, turn Right onto CR 605 South and take the first Left onto Brugler Road. This road can also be accessed from Route 94.   Map
ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. unless engaged in lawful hunting, fishing or trapping activities. Parking areas and trails may not be maintained in inclement weather. Be aware of all New Jersey Wildlife Management Area (WMA) regulations regarding fishing, hunting and trapping, and especially be aware of activities that are prohibited. This information can be found at the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife website referenced above. If entering these properties during hunting season it is a good idea to wear some blaze orange. The best times to walk the trails are from fall to spring. Because trails are not marked, a compass is recommended. Some paths get overgrown and inaccessible during the summer, so it is best to stay on the roads. Columbia Lake and Delaware Lake have car-top boat launches. Ticks are common; use appropriate precaution. Black bear, venomous timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead may be present; be wary and exercise appropriate precaution. To view a map of the entire area visit www.njfishandwildlife.org/pdf/wmamaps/columbia.pdf.

SITE DESCRIPTION:  The 1,260-acre Columbia Wildlife Management Area offers unimpeded views of the Delaware Water Gap, as well as two lakes, swampy wetlands, upland deciduous forests, shrubby grasslands and croplands, some of which are still being actively farmed. Although bisected by I-80, the Columbia WMA remains rural in nature.

DON'T MISS:  a visit to the Garden State Heirloom Seed Society (seasonal hours) located by Delaware Lake.

Winter:  Visit for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on the open fields. Animal tracks are readily seen and identified in the snow. The WMA’s proximity to the Delaware River makes it a great place to spot foraging Bald Eagle, especially around Columbia and Delaware Lakes. Red-headed Woodpecker, Cooper's Hawk, Barred Owl and Northern Goshawk complement the usual species that can be viewed here.
Spring:  Visit grasslands habitats during this time of year; trails are accessible and field-nesting birds arrive in April and May. Gray Catbird and Baltimore Oriole may be seen scouting the area for nesting sites, along with the less common Brown Thrasher and Black-billed Cuckoo. Look also for migrating Pine, Prairie and Hooded Warblers and enjoy the abundant spring birdsong. Wildflowers such as anemone and trillium appear in May, and large stands of rhododendron by Columbia Lake begin to bloom.
Summer:  The lakes are the best place to be this time of the year; enjoy fishing from the shore or by boat. Paddling quietly by canoe or kayak gives exceptional opportunities to observe wildlife more closely. Monarda, also known as bee balm, blackberries and tiger daylilies are abundant. Hummingbird moths are drawn to the bee balm. Unlike most other moths, this large insect species flies by day, not at night. Green Heron, Mute Swans and nesting Osprey, along with a variety of waterfowl, are known to frequent the area.
Fall:  Take in autumn's splendor; enjoy richly colored wildflowers such as asters and goldenrods, accompanied by a variety of deciduous trees in their fall colors. Look to the skies for migrating raptors such as Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks and Bald Eagle.

SPECIAL FEATURES:  Cement slabs, fallen barns and other vestiges of earlier times are scattered throughout the area. Look for the historic barn being restored near the corner of Walnut and Warrington Roads.

A CLOSER LOOK:  The entrance via CR 605 is particularly inviting. Drive 0.5 miles and park near the boat launch. Although adjacent to I-80, herons, ducks and turtles are routinely seen here, and wildflowers grow in abundance. Go through the underpass and eventually the dam from the power plant will come into view. A path up through the woodlands, to the top of the tree line is accessible from the small area to the left at the end of the tunnel.

Boat LaunchButterfliesFishingHuntingIdeal for BeginnersParkingWildflowers