For nearly 50 years a favorite part of the Asbury Woods experience has been the boardwalk adjacent to the Nature Center, allowing visitors of all ages access to field, forest, and wetland habitats to observe a variety of plant and wildlife species. The final spike for the first iteration of the boardwalk was driven in during August 1972, completing the original 1/3 mile discovery trail through approximately 5 acres of the property. The original boardwalk was replaced in 1992 after volunteers spent three summers rebuilding the decaying structure.
The 1992 version of the boardwalk still stands today and is 1,700 feet long and 4 feet wide with minimal handrails, sharp turns and steep access ramps. It includes a swamp deck that is used as part of our educational program to teach wetland lessons. Unfortunately, that deck is sinking into the ground, and due to natural succession, the swamp has been drying out and is no longer reliably a wetland habitat year-round.
Replacement of the aging boardwalk was a key project of the Preserving a Legacy Capital Campaign and thanks to the generous donors to that Campaign, the complete replacement and expansion of our boardwalk is now underway.
The new Asbury Woods boardwalk will be fully accessible, complying with ADA standards to ensure individuals of all physical abilities will be able to experience the natural beauty of Asbury Woods. The width will be expanded to 8 feet to accommodate wheelchairs and to better serve large groups for teaching moments along the boardwalk. Handrails on both sides, gentle curves, and appropriate ramp slopes will also be featured. The addition of low wattage deck-style lighting will add flexibility to provide additional evening programs.
Additionally, a new section will add 300 feet of boardwalk that connects to an expansive wetland science teaching pavilion over a section of year-round swamp area adjacent to the south side of the parking lot. The science teaching pavilion will provide a covered area for our award-winning STEM educational programs to take place in any weather. The new teaching pavilion will feature a curved roof to match the existing architecture of the Nature Center, a gate to allow students full access to the water to collect water samples, and electrical outlets. The location of the current swamp deck over drying wetland will be converted to an observation deck, an ideal place for a short respite, birdwatching, and relaxation.
Watch the Asbury Woods website and social media accounts for all the latest about the project, timeline, and progress reports.
The new boardwalk is one example of the many ways we are able to invest in our mission thanks to the generosity of our donors.