Chief Nummy and his band of Lenni-Lenape Indians hiked through this area of the southern Pine Barrens many times, and some of it has been protected as Belleplain State Forest and the Pinelands Preserve. Today it includes 2320 acres of upland and wetland forest, bogs, lakes, and meadows. What mattered to the Native Americans was the excellent hunting and fishing in this area, and you can still find white-tailed deer, red foxes, and ruffed grouse here as well as a variety of fish in the lake. Lake Nummy, named for the last Lenni-Lenape Indian chief in Cape May County, is the starting point for this hike. Hiking deep into the woods, you’ll find trees typical of the coastal plain, including pitch pine, black and white oak, and American holly. In the low swamp areas, magnificent stands of Atlantic white cedar stretch toward the sky, and red-bellied turtles and a variety of frogs can be seen stretched out on logs. Bring a magnifying glass for a closeup look at sphagnum moss and cinnamon fern, or bring binoculars for spotting birds such as the bald eagle and warblers as they dart in and out of the underbrush. A swim in Lake Nummy is just the ticket after hiking on a hot day, but it’s best to come during fall or winter to minimize exposure to mosquitoes, chiggers, and ticks. Wear long sleeves and pants year-round to safeguard against overgrown shrubs and overeager insects. Although this hike is on fairly level trails, be prepared to exert a great deal of energy in places where the sandy trail is soft.
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