Any season of the year is a good time to hike at the Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary, but fall with its’ cooler temperatures and vibrant colors makes it even better. Situated on the slopes of Bougher Hill above the Delaware River in Northampton County, the 200-acre Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary and Wilderness Trust is entirely forested except for the area around the nature center and four small meadows at the top of the hill. Visitors can enjoy the nature center with its’ natural history collection and a library, five miles of walking trails with interpretive signs, a wildlife viewing blind, and an information kiosk. The sanctuary is open from sunrise to sunset.
The Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary is located about 10 miles south of Easton in Williams Township. The Sanctuary and Wilderness Trust were created by Antonio and Mary Guerrero for the purpose of protecting wildlife; land preservation in as natural a state as possible and to provide a place for scientific study and educational programs. The Guererro’s bought the property in a series of purchases from 1944 through 1969. In 1969, they established the Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary and Wilderness Trust. (The name came from fusing their first names together, Mary + Tony = Mar-i-ton.)
Natural Lands Trust has managed the property for the Mariton Trust since 1992. Natural Lands Trust is a non-profit land conservation organization dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.
The sanctuary offers a variety of activities for the family, as well as for groups. During the summer there are day and evening programs on many nature-related topics; the environment, natural history, habitats, wildflowers, and geology; are just a few of the public programs available. School and other groups can also enjoy a number of educational programs.
Mariton is a great place for birders, wildflower enthusiasts and hikers. Birds seen include; Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanagers, Ovenbirds, Pileated Woodpeckers, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, and Common Yellowthroat.
The forest at the sanctuary contains six oak species, conifers, Mountain Laurel, Red Elderberry, Hydrangea, and Spice Bush. There are more than 425 species of herbaceous plants, trees, vines and shrubs. The open fields and woodlands have native wildflowers. The meadows provide good viewing for Showy Orchis, milkweed and goldenrod, and for several species of butterflies.
The trails are marked by color-coded posts. Most of the trails are steep and rocky and hiking shoes should be worn. It is best to have a trail map. Download a Trail Map (they are also available at the nature center). One trail highlight; beginning at the nature center, walkers can follow the Main Trail to the River Lookout Trail, which descends 300 feet to an overlook where both the Delaware Canal and the Delaware River can be seen.
The nature center and trails are free and open to the public. Donations are greatly appreciated and accepted inside the nature center. No motorized vehicles or mountain bikes are allowed. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed at all times in the sanctuary. No picnicking or alcoholic beverages are allowed.
Mariton is located just north of the Bucks-Northampton County line, at 240 Sunnyside Road, Easton. 610-258-6574. The sanctuary can be reached from Easton by taking Route 611 south. After passing the Bucks County line sign, turn right onto Spring Hill Road. Go 0.5 miles to the first road and turn right onto Sunnyside Road. Continue straight at the “No Outlet” sign. Mariton is on the left at the top of a steep hill. Turn left into the parking lot at the Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary sign.