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Scott’s Corner Conservation Area

Scott's Corner Conservation Area is a 159-acre preserve located between the Township’s Rowland Park and the Plainsboro Preserve—home of the New Jersey Audubon Nature Center. It has a tidy, ½ mile loop trail (Beechwood Loop—orange blaze) that winds through towering beech trees and lush ferns towards a bird blind that overlooks a small, hidden pond full of turtles, frogs and red-winged blackbirds.

Trail Map
stepping stone path at Scott's Corner Conservation Area

Ireland Brook Conservation Area

This conservation area is over 500 acres. The blue-blazed Forest Brook trail is a short 0.8-mile loop off of Riva Avenue in East Brunswick which has views of the rushing, rocky Ireland Brook near its outflow into the Lawrence Brook. The 2.9-mile Ireland Brook Trail (yellow blaze) crosses the old Fast Line Trolley line, into the beech and maple forest above the Ireland Brook and meanders through meadows and alongside an active farm field towards the eastern edge of the preserve.

Trail Map
brook at Ireland Brook Conservation area

Heathcote Meadows Preserve

Nestled just outside the small village of Kingston, the preserve offers a glimpse into the rich farming history of the area. Combined with Heathcote Park, the Cook Natural Area, Mapleton Preserve and the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, the Heathcote Meadows Preserve creates a dense belt of foliage around the village of Kingston. This provides stream protection for Heathcote Brook and Carter Brook and wonderful opportunities for hiking, walking, and wildlife viewing. Try a leisurely 1.4-mile hike or a more strenuous 34-mile adventure along the Delaware & Raritan Canal Towpath.

green meadow in Middlesex County New Jersey

John A. Phillips Preserve

For plant and animal diversity, little compares to the John A. Phillips Open Space Preserve. Located in the heart of the ecologically rich Spotswood Outlier, hikers come to catch sight of the colorful sugar maples, huckleberries, sweet pepperbushes, and imposing pitch pines. With over 1,782 acres of trails, the park office produces handy route guides and overviews of the region’s fascinating natural history. Hikers can spend days here exploring the marshlands, sand trails, blueberry flats, and the stunning Pine Glenn Spur.

Trail Map
trees at middlesex county park

Cheesequake State Park

With easy-to-moderate trails and remarkable scenery, Cheesequake State Park is famed for its unlikely range of contrasting natural vistas including a swath of upland hardwood forest, a vast white-cedar swamp, and miles of coastal saltwater marshes. Near the trailhead, the Nature Center helps visitors with guidance on the best trails and sites. This is a great place to camp!

Trail Map
wooden walking path at cheesequake state park

Jamesburg Park Conservation Area

In this 7.5-mile hike, you'll experience one of the first protected areas in New Jersey at this unique pine barrens conservation area, a heavily forested coastal ecosystem. From the Bozza lot take the Snuffy Hollow Trail, then cross Washington Ave onto the Pitch Pine Loop, then cross Helmetta Blvd to Cedar Swamp Trail. Continue on Pitch Pine Loop to the Snuffy Hollow Trail near the Port St. /Washington Ave intersection. Follow Snuffy Hollow Trail to Lincoln Blvd and continue to Bozza Spur.

Trail Map
tree in spring at Jamesburg Park

Mill to Brook Trail

This 9-mile hike takes you through one of the most picturesque areas of Middlesex County. Begin at Davidson’s Mill parking lot then take the outer loop at the Mill. Follow the Farrington Lake Trail north toward the Fisherman’s Parking lot at the Forest Brook Trail to the Ireland Brook Trail. Be sure to visit the ponds where you can spot distinctive plant and animal life. Return on Farrington Lake Trail to the Mill.

hiking trail at Ireland Brook Conservation Area

Thompson Park

Wind your way through this public park and conservation area, taking in the forests and fields around Manapalan Lake. Try starting at the lodge on the White Trail then follow the outer loop to Gravel Hill, down to Hoffman Station property and back.

Trail Map
Lake Manalapan in Thompson Park

Davidson’s Mill Pond Park

A tranquil spot in the heart of 482 acres of scenic former agricultural land, these fun-but-tough switchback trails take you under thick forest canopy and around babbling brooks all the way to the Davidson Mill Pond boat launch. Located Route 130, no permit is required for visits or for blanket picnics (no fires, please). Memorable features include a butterfly house, garden displays, and a captivating waterfalll.

A turtle on a log.
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Flowers at Rutgers Gardens