Oak Hill Road, Middletown Township, Monmouth County, NJ
Via the Garden State Parkway from the north:
Get off at Exit 114(Holmdel-Middletown). At light ramp's end, make a left onto Red Hill Road. Make a right at the second light onto Dwight Road and stay on this road 1 1/2 miles past the first light. At light, turn left onto Middletown-Lincroft Road. Continue for 1/4 mile, past the Poricy Park Fossil Bed area, and turn right at the first light onto Oak Hill Road. The Nature Center is on the right immediately before the second set of railroad tracks.
Via the Garden State Parkway from the south:
Get off at Exit 114 (Holmdell-Middletown). Make a right at light at end of ramp. At next light, turn right onto Dwight Road. Stay on this road 1 1/2 miles to first light. At light, turn left onto Middletown-Lincroft Road. Continue for 1/4 mile, past the Poricy Park Fossil Bed area, and turn right at the first light onto Oak Hill Road. The Nature Center is on the right immediately before the second set of railroad tracks.
The township park is one of the largest in Monmouth County and serves as a center for environmental and cultural education. The Park encompasses a number of unique and special features, affording a wide sample of both natural and human history.
1667 -- John Throckmorton received land grants including the area now known as Poricy Park.
1767 -- part of the Throckmorton land was purchased by Joseph Murray, a Scots-Irish immigrant from Londonderry. He and his wife Rebecca had four children. Beautiful meadow near the Navesink River, the Murray Farm was home to Joseph Murray who joined the Monmouth Militia during the Revolutionary War.
1780 (June 8) -- Jopseph Murray was murdered by Loyalists on his farm, while working his his cornfield behind the barn. The farmhouse and barn, which still stand, were certainly there before 1780 and probably built by him. The farm remained in the Murray family until 1861. There were several owners during the following years and various crops were grown.
1940 to 1972 -- the farm was a dairy farm.
Poricy Park was born of an environmental battle to reroute a sewer trunk line away from the fragile stream bank of Poricy Brook.
1969 -- the Poricy Park Citizens Committee (PPCC) was formed join this effort, and to save some 250 acres of open space threatened by development.
1970 -- the PPCC independently raised funds to secure the 14-acre "Cotton Tract" (named for E. Leigh Cotton, owner of the tract). The PPCC donated the land to Middletown Township. This gift, plus widespread public support over the following years, encouraged the Township to seek funds to acquire the other tracts leading to our present 250-acre park.
1975 -- the PPCC began summer nature study programs in the then unrestored Murray farmhouse.
1978 -- year-round programs commenced upon completion of the Nature Center, built with Middletown Township and New Jersey Green Acres development funds. (Source: http://www.monmouth.com/~poricypark/us.html)
Poricy Park has woodlands, fields, river and marsh ecosystems, a bed of Cretaceous fossils, collections of natural objects, and a restored 18th-Century farm.
On our way to Poricy Park we stopped at the Poricy Brook fossil beds on the right side of Middletown-Lincroft Road (on which there is a sign "British Retreat Route" from the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth) to walk the trail. We walked along the brook itself, a small stream, and found large hillsides exposed. We were headed southeast. The trail does not go very far before being blocked off by fallen trees and vegetation. So we did not stay long.
The visitor center is closed on Saturday (the day we were there). There is a big open field in front of the visitor center which is sitting on top of a rise looking down and across open fields toward the farm house. We walked down toward the farm house passing a "hedge" of Douglas fir. There is a small pond on the side back of the farm house with a few mallard ducks and Canada geese. We continued past the farm house and crossed a stream to another field (this one left more wild). At this point we just turned around and re-crossed the stream at a different point, returning to the farm house and then to the visitor center.
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plants found in bloom, March 27, 2004
Acer rubrum (red maple) *
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus sp. (ash)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir) planted to form a widely spread hedge
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Salix sp. (willow) *
Salix sp. (pussy willow) *
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Ulmus sp. (elm)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera sp. (honey suckle bush)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Cirsium sp. (thistle)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s lace)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil) *
Potentilla sp. (cinquefoil)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)