New Jersey Butterfly Club

A chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA)

Riverwinds Nature Trail

by Dave Amadio

County: Gloucester.

Municipality: West Deptford.

Directions: (From the North) I-295 South to Exit 21 Paulsboro/ Woodbury. At the light turn right onto Crown Point Rd. (Rt. 44). At the next light turn left (at the WAWA) onto Delaware Ave. Stay on this for 0.4 miles. At the next light cross over Grove Ave. into the Riverwinds Complex. Go another 0.4 miles till you see the “Nature Trail” sign on your right. Follow the dirt road to the parking area.

(From the South ) I-295 North to exit 21-22 National Park/Woodbury. Follow sign for Exit 21 CR640 National Park/Woodbury. After exiting make a left at the stop sign onto Delaware Ave. Proceed under I-295 and continue through 2 traffic lights till you reach the Riverwinds Complex. Continue as directed above.

Parking: Yes, room for more than a dozen vehicles.

Nearest sizable town: National Park, less than 3 miles north of Riverwinds. Follow Grove Ave. north to Hessian Ave. Here you can make a right and find convenience stores, pizza, and a gas station. If you turn left at Hessian the road will end at Red Bank Battlefield Park, a nice place to eat lunch. The Park has a portable enclosed butterfly house surrounded by a small butterfly garden. Be sure to check the old Hackberry tree next to the historic Ann Whitall House for Hackberry Emperors.

Habitats: The Riverwinds Nature Trail (formerly known as Riverwinds Scenic Trail and also as the West Deptford Nature Trail) traverses old fields and second-growth and mature forest with intermittent wetlands. The woods consist of a wide variety of oaks, Sassafras, Black Cherry, and off-trail to the east a large stand of Virginia Pines. Extensive stands of Sand Blackberry, Stinging Nettle, and various grasses are present. Variable stands of Common Milkweed grow here, as well as limited amounts of Swamp Milkweed and New York Ironweed in the wetter areas. Finding nice stands of Common Milkweed often requires getting off trail but can be worth it if you can tolerate ticks.

Maintained/Marked trails: Yes. There is a 1.1-mile loop trail as well as several overgrown spur trails. Most often these spur trails will require bushwhacking.

Restrooms: No, but rest rooms are available at the nearby WAWA and also at the Community Center, reached by proceeding past the Nature Trail parking area into the Riverwinds Complex. The aforementioned Red Bank Battlefield Park also has restrooms.

Picnic tables: Again, no, but there are tables at Red Bank Battlefield Park.

Notable species: At least 64 species of butterflies have been documented here, including Falcate Orangetip, American Copper, Coral Hairstreak, Oak Hairstreak (once), Brown Elfin (once), Eastern Pine Elfin (rare), Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor (uncommon), Little Glassywing, and Dusted Skipper (rare).

Best time to visit: Mid-April through September.

Exploring Riverwinds Nature Trail: Most visitors take to the trail in a clockwise direction, but first check the parking area if damp for puddling Eastern Comma, Red Admiral, and occasionally Hackberry Emperor and American Snout. Continue along the trail checking open areas for grass-skippers. Of course, if you find Common Milkweed in bloom check for Little Glassywings, Coral Hairstreaks, etc. When the trail makes a 90-degree right, check around the marsh area for Red-Banded Hairstreak, Viceroy, and Least Skipper. Continuing along the trail you will come to larger open areas of Sand Blackberry to your right, where American Coppers are usually found. As you reach the woods you will find an old stand of Sassafras trees to your left. Start looking for Spicebush Swallowtails, Mourning Cloaks, and Zabulon Skippers. After the trail eventually makes a 90-degree turn to the right, continue through the woods until you pass a small pond on your left. At this point you can go down to the pond and then travel off-trail through overgrown fields where many Virginia Pines are taking over. This area used to support a small colony of Dusted Skippers, and Eastern Pine Elfin has been found here also. Go back to the pond and continue along the trail. Where the trail makes a hard right you will find a small stand of Hackberry trees. This is the best place to look for Question Mark, Hackberry and Tawny Emperor, and American Snout. Continue past more overgrown fields until you return to the parking area.

Special precautions: Ticks are abundant off trail, and deer flies are biting in late May and June.

You might also want to visit: The walkways between the ballfields and the restaurant in the Riverwinds Complex. This area is known to local butterfliers and birders as the “River Trail.” Also, nearby Wheelabrator Refuge, north of National Park in Westville off of Rt. 130, is well worth a visit.

To view a larger map, click on 'View larger map' icon in upper right hand corner. (Tip: The satellite view may also suggest good potential butterfly habitat to explore.)

Entrance Sign

Riverwinds Nature Trail.

Riverwinds Meadow

Field at Riverwinds.

Nature Trail

Riverwinds Nature Trail.

Another Riverwinds Meadow

Another field at Riverwinds.