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James Farm Ecological Preserve


UPDATE: Construction at the James Farm Ecological Preserve Construction is proceeding on the gateway area at the James Farm Ecological Preserve. In 2014, the Preserve adopted a a Master Plan which called for various improvements at the Preserve. Work on the new entrance started in early December, but in January, work started on the event lawn. Work will soon start on the new parking area.

While the Preserve remains open during construction, parking will be restricted to the east side of Cedar Neck Road. Complimentary dog bags can be picked-up and dropped-off there. Please do nor block construction activities by parking on the west side! Foot access to the west side will be via the clam shell work road. Please proceed by the construction entrance with caution. Construction is expected to be wrapped-up in early spring.






30048 Cedar Neck Road
Ocean View, DE 19970
View printable directions.

(302) 226-8105


Sunrise to Sundown
365 days/year

Free of charge.

This area is “Carry-in/Carry-out”. 
Visitors are asked to take their trash home for disposal.

Pets are invited but must be leashed at all times.


Want to help out at the James Farm? 
Volunteers meet Wednesday mornings! 
Send an email to jamesfarm@inlandbays.org
or call (302) 226-8105 ext. 111 for more information.

The James Farm Ecological Preserve is an oasis of wild land on Indian River Bay, located just a short drive from Bethany Beach, Delaware on Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View.

Check out this INCREDIBLE drone footage provided by Lisa Daisey of Ecobay Kayak & SUP!
Want to try kayaking or paddle boarding at the James Farm?
Check them out here: http://www.ecobaykayak.com/


From the sandy beach at low tide, you can walk the trails through seven distinctive habitats; from the salty flats of the low marsh with its salt marsh cord grass and glasswort, through the shrubby high marsh with bayberry, marsh alder and salt marsh hay, into the shade of the loblolly pines, holly and red cedar of the maritime forest, into the deep shade of the hardwood forest under a canopy of southern red oak, hickory, sweet gum and sassafras, finally to emerge back into the sunshine in the meadows that were once farm fields.

In 2014, the Preserve felt the footsteps of 10,000 visitors, many with their four-legged friends, and welcomed nearly a thousand students for a day of watershed education. It became clear that to protect the forest, marshes, beaches and wetlands AND accommodate the needs of a growing number of visitors, a plan was necessary.  This led to the creation and implementation of the James Farm Master Plan. 

Learn more about the James Farm Master Plan »


Educational Opportunities at James Farm

We have developed activities for children Pre-school to 6th grade that are closely correlated with Delaware Science Content Standards and Performance Indicators…and they are fun!

If you are interested in bringing your group to James Farm for an outdoor learning experience contact us at (302) 226-8105 x 103 or by email at abarra@inlandbays.org.


The History of James Farm

The 150-acre James Farm property was a gift to Sussex County from the late Mary Lighthipe, a descendant of the James family who had farmed the land for generations. She gave it in memory of her son, Harold, who died in an automobile accident. She gave it with the condition that the property be used for environmental education and recreational activities. Learn more about the history of James Farm.

In the fall of 1998, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays was asked by the County to manage the property. Since that time, the CIB has worked with volunteers and partners to create an ecological preserve. The preserve now features more than three miles of marked hiking trails, three observation platforms, a boardwalk beach crossing, wildflower gardens, an amphitheater, an informational kiosk, rest areas, and more than 4,000 trees purchased and planted in a USFWS Partners in Wildlife reforestation effort.

Your generous donations allow us to maintain the James Farm for visitors to enjoy. They also allow us to implement numerous restoration projects that benefit the wildlife in the area.

A freshwater wetland area has been created adjacent to the intersection of two of our trails. This should be a good spot to see deer, ducks, reptiles and amphibians. Stumps and a dead tree crag placed in the water to give variety and a head start to this created habitat. Next to the wetland is an observation blind for viewing wildlife. Because of the diversity of habitats and open space, the James Farm is an excellent location for birding, particularly during spring and fall migrations.

The Center for the Inland Bays holds the Gardening for the Bays Native Plant Sale in May. School programs are held at the James Farm in the spring and fall.


The Trails at the James Farm:

James Farm Trail Map:

Download PDF (PDF, 320KB) »

Click here
for information on guided Kayaking Adventure Tours of the Indian River Bay departing from James Farm. Tours focus on an educational discovery of Delaware’s Inland Bays.