Visit the Preserve

Visit the James Farm Preserve!

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

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 cordgrass 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, sweetgum, and sassafras, finally to emerge back into the sunshine in the meadows that were once farm fields.

Public Education

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.

A note to visitors: Construction activities that are part of the Master Plan for the James Farm Ecological Preserve have begun! Site work is currently underway and the Preserve is open during construction. Updates regarding trail or facility closures will be made as needed on the Preserve’s Facebook page.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at Click the button below to learn more about plans for the Preserve.

James Farm Master Plan

the delaware center for the inland bays research logo

30048 Cedar Neck Road
Ocean View, DE 19970

Hours: Sunrise to Sundown 365 days/year
Admission: Free of charge.
Trash: This area is Carry-in/Carry-out. Visitors are expected to take their trash home for disposal.
Pets: Pets are invited but must be leashed at all times.


James Farm Work Days

Get outdoors for some fresh air and exercise with the James Farm Volunteer group! The group meets at James Farm every Wednesday from 9 am to noon to clean up the area by cutting grass, trimming vegetation, completing small construction projects, and more. This is a year-round opportunity that may be canceled or postponed due to weather.

To join in, email the Property Manager at, call (302) 226-8105 ext. 711 or simply show up! We can’t wait to meet you!

James Farm Docent Program

The James Farm Docent Program plays a key role in helping to encourage visitors of the Preserve to immerse themselves in its beautiful habitats. Stationed at information tables, Docents greet visitors, answer questions, and offer resources to the public.

Access the webpage HERE to sign up or learn more about the program.


Educational Opportunities

The Center’s education staff can provide field trips, educational programs, and guided tours of the Preserve for children, students, and adults! Teachers, scout leaders, and homeschool groups can learn more about the youth programs HERE!. School programs are held at the Preserve in the spring and fall.

Adult groups can reach out to our staff to learn about opportunities to bring your group to Preserve. Contact us at 302-226-8105 ext. 703 or by email at

The Center holds the Water Family Fest and Native Plant Sale at the Preserve each year in May.

Check out the Center’s Event webpage, where you can pre-register for any of the public programs offered at the Preserve.

Environmental Education

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.

In the fall of 1998, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (Center) was asked by the County to manage the property. Since that time, the Center 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 Preserve for visitors to enjoy. They also allow us to implement numerous restoration projects that benefit wildlife in the area.

a map showing the location of the indian river bay

Rentals & More

EcoBay Kayak & SUP is the only approved vendor available at the James Farm Ecological Preserve, offering kayak and stand up paddle rentals, classes, tours, summer camps, and more! A portion of all proceeds goes to supporting the Preserve!


Approved vendor of
the James Farm
Ecological Preserve.