|Mill Creek Marsh Nature Trail, Park Plaza Drive (Mill Creek Mall), Secaucus, NJ |
Phone: (201) 460-1700
New Jersey Meadowlands Commission
4a) Mill Creek Marsh
Leave Laurel Hill via New County Road. Cross bridge, pass through 1 traffic light, cross railroad tracks and at stop sign after one mile, turn Left onto County Avenue. Turn Right onto Paterson Plank Road at the 6th traffic light where the road ends at a ‘T’. Get in Left lane under the second overpass. Turn Left at the first traffic light. Bear Right onto Harmon Meadow Blvd. Turn Left at the 3rd light onto Park Place. Proceed over bridge. Bear Right following signs for Mill Creek West, Stop & Shop, Kohl’s. The entrance and parking for the marsh are at the
end on the Right.
4b) Mill Creek Point Park
Mill Creek Canoe Trail
Mill Ridge Road, Secaucus, NJ
To exit Mill Creek Mall shopping area pass through 1 stop sign and bear Right onto Mill Creek Drive. Proceed through 1 stop sign and follow signs for Route 3 West. Merge into traffic on Service Road and stay Right. After 2⁄10 mile bear Right and follow signs for Secaucus. Stay Left on the ramp. Turn Right at 1st traffic light onto Paterson Plank Road. Pass through 1 traffic light and turn Right onto Franklin Street. Proceed to the end and turn Left onto Gillis Place. Turn Right at the next block onto Blondel Drive. Turn Left at the next block onto Koelle Blvd. Koelle bears Left. At the first stop sign turn Right onto Mill Ridge Road. Follow Mill Ridge Road to end at Mill Creek Point.
Mill Creek Marsh: Wednesday – Sunday 6am–7pm. Closed when snowing or snow covered. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays for maintenance. New Jersey fishing license required.
Mill Creek Point State Park: Open daily dawn to dusk. Parking available onsite. Boat Launch available onsite. New Jersey fishing license required. Pick up canoe/kayak Trail Map at the Meadowlands Environment Center.
4) Mill Creek Marsh: NJ Transit Bus Line No. 85 Hoboken and No. 320 Mill Creek/Harmon Meadow/North Bergen stop at Harmon Meadows Blvd. and Park Plaza. Leave Park Plaza walking towards Harmon Meadows Blvd. (Meadowlands Exposition Center is on your right). Turn Right onto Harmon Meadows Blvd. and follow directions above. These bus lines also stop at Mill Creek Drive and Lighting Way (closest stop). Walk towards Mill Creek Drive. Turn Right onto Mill Creek Drive. Walk to the end and enter Mill Creek Mall to the Left. The Marsh will be on your right as you walk towards Stop and Shop. Entrance is adjacent to the Stop and Shop.
4b) Mill Creek Point State Park: NJ Transit Bus Line No. 190 stops at Franklin Street and Paterson Plank Road. Cross Paterson Plank Road and walk down Franklin Street. Turn Left onto Stonewall Lane. Turn Right onto Mill Ridge Road. Follow Mill Ridge Road to Mill Creek Point, you will pass through a recreational area before you get to the end at the point. Walking distance within 1 mile.
|Forster's Tern||Kevin Karlson
||The Mill Creek Enhancement Site comprises Mill Creek Marsh and Mill Creek Point Park, encompassing approximately 225 acres along Mill Creek, a tributary to the Hackensack River. Like many other sites in the Meadowlands District, this area was altered by human activity beginning in the 19th Century and lasting into the latter part of the 20th Century. Diking and draining of the wetlands contributed to a decrease in the flow of tidal water and a loss of important vegetation. The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission acquired the marsh in 1998 and began wetland enhancement activities, and the results have been dramatic. Migratory shorebirds can now be found, along with a variety of waterfowl that use it for breeding and feeding. Thousands of Green-winged Teal have been counted. Herons, egrets, and cormorants actively fish in the marsh, while raptors, hawks and osprey can be seen soaring overhead.
There are two large impoundments within the Mill Creek site, along with channels, mudflats, and upland areas. You can explore the Mill Creek Marsh on foot or by small watercraft. The entrance to the Mill Creek Marsh Trail is near the southern portion of Mill Creek Marsh adjacent to the Mill Creek Mall. The footpath has three large pedestrian bridges that allow passage over the larger creeks at the site. At a low ebb or flow tide you can stand on the bridge and look below to see the large, 30-inch carp trying to swim against the current. The south impoundment, where the remnants of the cedar stumps can be seen at low tide, also accommodates a variety of wading and shorebirds. The variety of vegetation along the trail is lush with groundsel, hibiscus, elderberry, smartweed, pokeberry, goldenrod, marsh fleabane and salt marsh aster along with a variety of insects and birds. On the north side of the site is Mill Creek Point; a 3-acre revitalized riverside park complete with information kiosks about the history of Mill Creek and the enhancement of the marsh. There is a riverfront walkway, picnic tables, benches and small watercraft launch for access to the Mill Creek Canoe Trail or the Hackensack River. Mill Creek Point is also a popular catch and release site for striped bass, white perch and other gamefish.
Along the Mill Creek Walking Trail, don’t miss the “forest of stumps” — evidence that the now-brackish Meadowlands was once a freshwater swamp covered by dense thickets of atlantic white cedar. The advent of European colonization changed the landscape forever. Centuries of systematic logging were only exacerbated by the completion of the Oradell Dam in 1923, which allowed the influx of saltwater into the lower river that killed the last remnant cedar groves and allowed common reed to spread throughout the Meadowlands. An unexpected result of wetlands mitigation at Mill Creek Marsh was the unearthing of hundreds of cedar stumps, some of which are hundreds of years old.
Look for large numbers of Green-winged Teal in open water and close to the phragmites they use as a wind break. Other frequent waterfowl include American Black Duck, Bufflehead, Common and Hooded Mergansers, and Northern Shoveler. The Mill Creek Point site at the north end, near the Hackensack River, can be windy and cold. But, if you are birding from here you can also see the Marsh Resources, an obvious tract of open space “spartina” marsh, across the river. Hunting raptors, such as Peregrine Falcon, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks can be seen at both locations.
Passerines (songbirds) arrive from the south and can be heard singing through the Spring. They are often quite difficult to see because they move erratically among the leaves, so try learning to identify them by song. Tree and Barn Swallows dart above the water in search of flying insects. This is also a host site for the Tree Swallow Nest Box Project through the NJMC. Along the walking trail, look for warblers, vireos, thrushes and the many Red-winged Blackbirds establishing their territories.
Herons, egrets, terns and other wading and shorebirds perch on the cedar stumps and exposed roots that twist through the mud. Double-crested Cormorants also visit this shallow, easy-to-hunt area after roosting on the dilapidated dock pilings on the Hackensack River at Mill Creek Point. Herons from the rookery at Schmidt’s Woods come to this site to forage. Also look for fish, blue crab, Atlantic marsh fiddler crab, snapping turtle and diamond-back terrapin. Scan the vegetation along the trail and look closely for insects and their larva. And don’t miss the resident Belted Kingfishers darting across Mill Creek, with their machine gun-like calls.
The open space along the Hackensack River is attractive to migrating birds and monarch
butterflies. Thousands of shorebirds pass through, often trailed by their falcon predators: Peregrine, Merlin and American Kestrel. Toward the end of the season, waterfowl return for their winter stay. The meandering channels and tidal ditches that make up the Mill Creek Marsh are havens for Green-winged and Blue-winged Teals, Ruddy Duck and Common and Hooded Mergansers, along with a variety of dabbling ducks.