Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County, NJ


From New York City take the New Jersey Turnpike to exit 11. Follow the Garden State Parkway south about six miles to exit 120. Go to the end of the exit ramp and turn south (right) on Laurence Parkway and go 0.2 mile. Turn west (right) on Cliffwood Avenue and go 0.3 mile to a T intersection. Turn north (right) on Gordon Road and drive 0.3 mile to the park entrance on the right. Drive in past the tollbooth to the Nature Trail Parking Area (A).


The park has soil from the Merchantville Formation and Woodbury Shale. In many areas there are lots of iron-stained quartz pebbles, reworked from the deposits of the Beacon Hill Formation (highest point in Monmouth County). From the Woodbury Shales comes the Woodbury Clay that is dark gray in color (exposed only in excavations and along the shore of Raritan Bay). The Merchantville Formation of mixed sand and clay interfingers with the overlying Woodbury Clay.  (Source: the website for the "Geology and Geography of the New York Bight.")


The name "Cheesequake" is taken from a Lenni Lenape word, Cheseh-oh-ke, "upland."

Early settlers picked out the hills around the creek and farmed them. They could ship their goods to market via the docks at the end of the "dock road," the creek being navigable about two miles inland. Later, there were several industrial plants that manufactured ceramics along with many homes. The land was acquired in 1938. The park opened formally on June 22, 1940. These people had often frequented the area to hunt and fish. They were here as far back as 5,000 years before Henry Hudson's arrival at Raritan Bay in 1609.


Swimming in Hooks Creek Lake, hiking along scenic trails, picnicking, camping, and fishing.

Trail System:

There are three main trail that cross the area. An orientation map at the trail entrance helps in selecting a trail walk. Trail guides for the yellow and green trails are available at the Nature Center or park offices.

The habitats that can be seen include white cedar swamp, tidewater salt marsh and eastern hardwood forest.

The longest trail is the 3.5 mile green trail, which goes through typical pine barrens forest, then downward to a freshwater swamp where the visitor can see sweetbay magnolia and red maple in a dense stand of Atlantic white cedar. The trail then swings upland through a mature hardwood forest with American beech, black birch, white and red oak and an exceptional stand of old growth white pine.

The yellow trail takes the visitor on a short walk to Hook Creek Lake and offers outstanding opportunities to view pinkster, swamp azalea, mountain laurel, trailing arbutus and pink lady's slipper during spring months.

There is a bird list available of over 186 species of birds.

Karl Anderson, Dr. Patrick L. Cooney, Linda Kelly, Dr. William F. Standaert

Acer rubrum (red maple) 4/07/01
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Albizia julibrissin (silk tree) 7/24/93
Amelanchier canadensis (shadbush)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Diospyros virginiana (persimmon)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch-hazel)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay magnolia)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree)
Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine)
Pinus virginiana (Virginia pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus ‘Kwanzan' (Kwanzan cherry) 4/20/97
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford' (Bradford pear)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus falcata (southern red oak)
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)
Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus stellata (post oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Rhus copallina (winged sumac)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix babylonica hybrid (b. x fragilis) (weeping willow)
Salix babylonica hybrid (b. x alba) (weeping willow)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras) 4/20/97

Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)
Baccharis halimifolia (groundsel bush)
Baptisia australis (purple-lilac pea bush) 7/24/93
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush) 7/24/93 -- lots of it
Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)
Decodon verticillatus (yellow loosestrife)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Eubotrys racemosa (fetterbush)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Gaylussacia frondosa (dangleberry)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Iva frutescens (marsh elder)
Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) 4/20/97
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Nemopanthus mucronata (mountain holly)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter flower)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Vaccinium angustifolium (low bush blueberry) 4/20/97
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) 4/20/97
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)

Celastrus orbiculatus (oriental bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Rubus flagellaris (dewberry)
Smilax glauca (sawbrier)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Strophostyles umbellata (perennial wild bean)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 7/24/93
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Anemone quinquefolia (wood anemone)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arisaema triphyllum (jack in the pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) 7/24/93
Asclepias variegata (white milkweed)
Barbarea vulgaris (common winter cress)
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed) 7/24/93
Cardamine hirsuta (hairy bittercress) 4/20/97
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Crotalaria sagittalis (rattlebox)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder)
Cypripedium acaule (pink lady's slippers)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 7/24/93
Desmodium rotundifolium (round-leaved tick trefoil)
Draba verna (whitlow grass) 4/20/97
Eupatorium perfoliatum (white boneset) 7/24/93 almost blooming
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Gaillardia aristata (Indian blanket) 7/24/93
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Glechoma hederacea (gill-over-the-ground)
Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rose mallow)
Hieracium pilosella (mouse ear hawkweed)
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed)
Hypericum spp. (St. Johnswort)
Hypochoeris radicata (cat's foot)
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Ipomoea coccinea (small red morning glory) 7/24/93
Iris sp. (blue flag?)
Isotria verticillata (larger whorled pogonia)
Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)
Lechea sp. (pinweed)
Lespedeza procumbens (trailing bushclover)
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 7/24/93
Lycopus americanus (American water horehound)
Lycopus virginiana (Virginia bugleweed)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumber root)
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) 7/24/93
Mimulus ringens (monkey flower) 7/24/93
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Myosotis micrantha (blue scorpion grass)
Oenothera sp. (sundrops) 7/24/93
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago aristata (bracted plantain)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prenanthes sp. (rattlesnake root)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 7/24/93
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf buttercup) 4/20/97
Rudbeckia hirta v pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan) 7/24/93
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Sagittaria latifolia (broad-leaved arrowhead)
Salicornia europaea (European glasswort)
Scleranthus annuus (knawel)
Sisyrinchium sp. (Blue-eyed grass)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Solidago juncea (early goldenrod) 7/24/93
Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod) 7/24/93
Stellaria media (common chickweed) 4/20/97
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage) 4/20/97
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) 4/20/97
Trientalis borealis (star flower)
Trifolium repens (white clover) 4/20/97
Typha angustifolia (narrow-leaved cattail)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Uvularia sessilifolia (sessile bellwort)
Viola lanceolata (lance-leaved violet)
Viola primulifolia (primrose-leaved violet)
Viola sororia (common blue violet) 4/20/97

Rushes and Sedges:
Carex crinita (fringed sedge)
Carex folliculata (long sedge)
Carex hormathodes (marsh straw sedge)
Carex laxiflora type (2) (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex sp. (nut or umbrella sedge)
Carex vestita (clothed sack sedge)
Eleocharis tenuis (slender spikerush)
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus gerardii (black grass)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Luzula multiflora (wood rush) 4/20/97
Scirpus americanus (Olney three-square)
Scirpus pungens (three-square)

Aira praecox (early hairgrass)
Alopecurus carolinianus (Carolina foxtail)
Andropogon virginicus var. abbreviatus (bush broom grass)
Andropogon virginicus var. virginicus (broom grass)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Chasmanthium laxum (slender spike grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Deschampsia flexuosa (hairgrass)
Distichlis spicata (marsh spike grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deertongue grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)
Spartina alterniflora (salt marsh cordgrass)
Spartina cynosuroides (big cordgrass)
Spartina patens (salt-meadow cordgrass)

Ferns and Fern allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dryopteris intermedia (evergreen woodfern)
Lycopodium obscurum (ground pine)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Thelypteris simulata (bog fern)

Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)

Anderson 5/22/97
Cooney 7/24/93
Standaert 4/20/97

August 17, 1948

April 30, 1950
Most impressive finds were bloodroot and the early woods buttercup with its taper roots like miniature carrots. Attendance 14. Louis E. Hand.

June 5, 1955.

Although this date was picked to find stemless lady's slipper in bloom we were too late for that. Several plants were seen. It was the height of anthesis for mountain laurel and some 20 other species of less massive effect. Many had not seen persimmon in flower previously. Four species new to the park list were Asclepias variegata, Carex vestita, Hypochoeris radicata, and Isotria verticillata (Pogonia).

Another new record was the mud turtle (Kinosternum subrubrum). In assessing the effect of the Garden State Parkway, we found it adding few if any people to the Park. Shoulders and drainage are not stabilized and there is much erosion. Some new lagoons have resulted and one was coming up thickly with Sagittaria. In addition to picnic area and woodland demolished we regret the loss of some excellent stands of mountain laurel, trailing arbutus, hundreds of stemless lady's slippers, and the unique little bog.

Attendance 18. Leaders, David Fairbrothers, John A,. Small, and Warren Wistendahl.

June 10, 1957

Quercus alba
Quercus borealis
Quercus coccinea
Quercus ilicifolia
Q marilandica
Q palustris
Q prinus
Q stellata
Q velutina
Q ilicifolia x marilandica
Q marilandica x palustris
Q prinus x alba
Q borealis x ilicifolia
Q prinus x ?

The small bog in the area has mostly been destroyed by gravel operations in the vicinity. The great abundance of Deschampsia flexuosa (hairgrass) made a very showy display in the pine woods. Attendance 7, leader, David E Fairbrothers.

April 7, 2001. CHEESEQUAKE STATE PARK, Middlesex County, NJ.

We had a great day even without any blooms. It was more like a winter walk with a few green sprouts from the ground now and then. Cheesequake is a very good place for a botanical field trip because it has a number of different habitats close at hand: deciduous forest, pine barren like habitat, cedar swamp, fields, streams, ponds, and salt marsh.

We parked at the main parking lot for hikers and took the yellow trail to Hook's Creek Lake. Along the way we saw a lot of oaks (Quercus spp.), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), sassafras (Sassafras albidum). We talked about the clayey soil and its content of a lot of iron-stained quartz.

We walked by the beech house at the lake, passing many a planted Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) and on to the salt marsh at Crabbing Bridge. The usual species were there with a lot of Spartina patens, Salicornia europaea, and Phragmites.

Returned to the circular yellow trail and took it to the red/green trail and up to the interpretive center where we ate lunch. On the way we saw fetterbush (Eubotrys racemosa), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), and skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).

After lunch we walked to the cedar swamp, passing by an ephemeral pond with lots of yellow loosestrife (Decodon verticillata). There was also along the boardwalk a great deal of yellowed heaps of dead Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum). At the cedar swamp we saw on the ground a great number of the sack sedge, Carex folliculata. At the shrub level were sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) and winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata). And, of course, giving the places it habitat name, were lots of Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides).

Total attendance was 16. The trip leader was Dr. Patrick Cooney. We had some absolutely fantastic field botanists, including Karl Anderson, Linda Kelly, and Dr. William Standaert. Thanks to Bill Standaert for his compiling the plant list.