MERRILL CREEK RESERVOIR ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVE
34 Merrill Creek Road, Washington Township, Warren County, NJ
2,940 acres (650 acre reservoir)


Directions:

From Rt. 80, traveling east or west:

Take Exit 12 - Route 521, Hope/Blairstown;
(If traveling west on Rt. 80) make a left at bottom of exit ramp onto Rt. 521;
(If traveling east on Rt. 80) make a right at bottom of exit ramp onto Rt. 521;
1 mile to intersection of Rts. 521 and 519, go straight onto Rt. 519 south;
16 miles on Rt. 519 south and bear left at Y-intersection of Rt. 519 and Rt. 646;
1.3 miles, go left on Fox Farm Road to intersection of Fox Farm and Richline Roads;
Right turn onto Richline Road;
Make the next right onto Merrill Creek Road (see Merrill Creek Reservoir sign);
Boat Ramp is straight ahead and the Visitors Center is down the roadway that veers to the right.

Or:

From US 78 west; get off Exit 4; take Route 637 north for 1.7 miles; turn right onto Washington Street that turns into Stewartsville Road; at 4.0 cumulative miles, cross Route 57 diagonally onto Montana Road; at 6.0 cumulative miles turn left onto Richline Road; at 6.3 cumulative miles turn left onto Merrill Creek Road (the entrance to the preserve.)


Geology:

The reservoir situated on top of Scott Mountain.


History:

In the mid-1970s seven public utility companies made plans to make a huge reservoir on top of the mountain. Unlike what happened in the case of Storm King on the Hudson River, however, against public opposition, the companies succeeded and were able to make a 225 foot deep, 650 acre reservoir. They erected a half mile long earth dam. They also built a 3.5 mile long tunnel that connects the top of the mountain to the Delaware River. The reservoir stores water that is pumped up from the Delaware River. During drought times, the water is released to downstream power plants.

In the preserve are the remains of the Cathers farmhouse and a lime kiln.

1989 (May)  -- it opened. 

Naturalists Jane Bullis and James Mershon have made the place a leading activist in environmental management..


Habitats:

forest, fields, reservoir


Facilities:

The Visitors Center is open 8;30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, year round, except for New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


 Wildlife:

bog turtle, black bear, bald eagle


Trails:

There is a Visitors' Center located in the northeast area of the reservoir. You can hike the 5 mile perimeter of the reservoir.

Amid the trails you will find two boardwalks over a bog and a spruce grove. There is an area on the blue-blazed trail where there was a lime kiln. Farmers would use this kiln to produce lime to increase the productivity of their fields.

 

O CREEK TRAIL (Orange Markers) - .9 miles:
Trail follows Upper Merrill Creek and the NE arm of the Reservoir. Even grade. Some low, wet areas along the Creek.

G ORCHARD TRAIL (Green Markers) - .8 miles:
From the Visitors Center, trail passes through a managed orchard, the Upper Beer's Farm, and past an abandoned orchard. Moderate grade with some rocky areas at the north end.

R TIMBER TRAIL (Red Markers) - .7 miles:
This trail cuts through the Preserve from north to south and passes through pine plantations, as well as hardwood forests in various successional stages. Even-to-moderate grade.

Y FARMSTEAD TRAIL (Yellow Markers) - .4 miles:
Easy-to-walk-on old farm road. The trail runs west from the Upper Beer's Farm ruins through fields and woods. Terminates at the Cather's Farm site, which features a spring and wetland area.

B SHORELINE TRAIL (Blue Markers) - 1.5 miles:
Trail follows the Reservoir shoreline throughout much of the Preserve and offers scenic views at several locations. Excellent trail for wildlife observation. Slight grade with a few rocky areas along the north side of the Preserve.

x - x PERIMETER TRAIL (Black Markers) - 5.5 miles:
This trail provides access to the entire Reservoir shoreline while offering many scenic views and passing through a variety of habitats. While most of the trail follows old woods roads and provides easy walking, hikers should note that there a few rocky areas. Access to the Perimeter Trail is provided at the Visitors Center, Boat Ramp, Overlook Parking Lot, and Inlet/Outlet Tower.

oooo EAGLE TRAIL (Wheelchair Accessible) - .3 miles:
A level, gravel-based trail, which passes fields, forests, an abandoned apple orchard, and ends at a wildlife observation blind. Access to the trail is available from the entrance drive.

Source: http://www.merrillcreek.com/hiking.html;  they have a printable map


5/14/2005.  Rosemary Cooney, Ceferino Santana, Sarah-David Rosenbaum, dog Sonar and I took a tour around the area.  We had a great day finding all kinds of wildflowers.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.


Sponsor: Torrey Club
Date: June 27, 1992
Leader: Bill Olson

This reservoir and its surrounding watershed preserves a nice representation of the habitats typical of its region. Mesic deciduous woodlands, old fields, evergreen plantations, and stream corridors were visited. Only a portion of the trails were explored.

A few of the many species of plants seen were Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus); Smooth-sheathed Sedge (Carex laevivaginata); Round-leaved Violet (Viola rotundifolia); Fly Poison (Amianthium muscaetoxicum); Broad-leaved Bunchflower (Melanthium hybridum); Lance-leaved Wild Licorice (Galium lanceolatum).

The weather during the trip was partly sunny, with temperatures in the 70's. There were ten participants.


PLANT LIST:
Patrick L. Cooney, Sarah-David Rosenbaum, Bill Olson

*  ==  blooming on the date of the field trip, 5/14/2005
@  =  found by Bill Olson which we did not see


Trees:
Acer negundo (box elder maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Betula sp. (cut-leaved birch)  planted
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Celtis occidentalis (American hackberry)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)  *
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus resinosa (red pine) pine plantation here
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
Prunus avium (sweet cherry)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus malus (apple)  *
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)  *
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
(Spanish chestnut planted)  @

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)  *
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)  *
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)  *
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter flower)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Rubus sp. (dewberry)
Salix sp. (willow)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Syringa sp. (white lilac)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (smooth arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)  *
Viburnum (leather-leaf viburnum)  *  planted

Vines:
Calystegia sepia (hedge bindweed) 
Dioscorea villosa (wild yam root)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
Actaea sp. (baneberry)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)  *
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Amianthium muscitoxicum (fly poison)  @
Anemone quinquefolia (wood anemone)  *
Anemonella thalictroides (rue anemone)  *
Anthriscus sylvestris (wild chervil)  *
Apocynum sp. (dogbane)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster spp. (aster)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress)  *
Caltha palustris (marsh marigold)  *
Cardamine pensylvanica (Pennsylvania bittercress)  *
Centaurea sp. (knapweed)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) 
Cirsium sp. (thistle)
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)
Claytonia virginica (spring beauty)  *
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry)  *
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane)  *
Erythronium americanum (trout lily) 
Eupatorium rugosum (white snake root)  *
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)  *
Galium aparine (cleavers)  *
Galium circaezens (wild licorice) 
Galium lanceolatum (lance-leaved wild licorice)  @
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)  *
Geum canadense (white avens)
Glechoma hederacea (gill-over-the-ground)  *
Hieracium caespitosum (field hawkweed)
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs)
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumber root)
Melanthium hybridum (broad-leaved bunch flower)   @
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot) 
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Narcissus sp. (white daffodil)  *
Nepeta cataria (catnip) 
Orchis spectabilis (showy orchid)  *
Osmorhiza claytonii  (sweet cicely)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)  *
Panax trifolius (dwarf ginseng)  *
Penstemon hirsutus (hairy beardtongue)  @
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)
Polygala paucifolia (fringed milkwort)  *
Polygonatum biflorum (smooth true Solomon's seal)
Polygonatum pubescens (downy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)  *
Prenanthes altissima (tall white lettuce)
Pyrola elliptica (shinleaf)
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved buttercup)  *
Ranunculus bulbosus (bulbous buttercup)  *
Ranunculus hispidus var. caricetorium (swamp buttercup)  *
Ranunculus recurvatus (hooked crowfoot)  *
Rorippa sp. (yellow cress)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Sedum telephioides (garden sedum)
Solidago spp. (goldenrod)
Stellaria media (common chickweed)  *
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)  *
Thalictrum dioicum (early meadowrue)
Trifolium pratense (red clover)
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Uvularia perfoliata (perfoliate-leaved bellwort)  *
Veratrum viride (swamp hellebore)  *soon
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Veronica anagallis-aquatica (water speedwell)  
Veronica arvensis (corn speedwell)  *
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica persica (Persian speedwell)  *
Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell)  *
Viola blanda (sweet white violet)  *
Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet)  *
Viola pubescens (yellow forest violet)  *
Viola rotundifolia (round-leaved violet)  @
Viola sororia (common blue violet)  *
Viola sororia var. (confederate violet) with purple centers  *

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Luzula multiflora (wood rush)  *

Sedges:
Carex laevivaginata (smooth-sheathed sedge)  @
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex sp. (sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)

Grasses:
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass) 
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Poa annua  (annual bluegrass)
Poa sp. (Kentucky bluegrass)  ?
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)

Ferns:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Lycopodium lucidulum (shining clubmoss)
Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort) 
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Athyrium thelypteroides (silvery gladefern)
Botrychium sp. (rattlesnake fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris fragrans (fragrant woodfern)
Dryopteris intermedia (fancy woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)