Ayres Beach
South Adelaide Avenue at Valley Place, Highland Park Borough, Middlesex County, New Jersey


From Route 27 in Highland Park Borough heading south, turn left onto South Adelaide Avenue; drive a little more than 0.3 of a mile to Valley Place on the left and park nearby.  The trail starts on the right side of the road by the left side of the ravine. 

The north end of the county's new Ayres Beach Natural Area connects to Highland Park's existing Green Acres site of Valley Place Ravine.

The linkage between sites opens a new public route along the river. A suggested walking loop is to take the trail down Valley Place Ravine from South Adelaide (at Valley Place), then follow the river south into Ayres Beach and back uphill to city streets (at the end of South Adelaide).

The south end of Ayres Beach Natural Area abuts privately owned land, sometimes called the "Barwood marsh." It contains a remnant of natural riverfront woods and Highland Park's only sizable freshwater marsh. The borough has requested that the county purchase this property, also, rounding out the Ayres Beach Natural Area and guaranteeing conservation and public access around the river bend to Donaldson Park


3/30/2005.  Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar  and I  walked along the trail with the ravine on our right.  It is a steep ravine and would take some effort if someone wanted to work their way down to the stream.  The walk is only about two blocks or so long.  The ravine is sandwiched between apartment complexes. The good news, however, is that Ayres Beach, along the Raritan River, is reached and that provides a longer walk.  Most of the area is a combination field/waste place area.  At the eastern end of the beach is the old boat ramp and a gated off entrance at the end of Skyview Terrace. Also on the eastern end a Phragmites marsh separates Donaldson Park from Ayres Beach.  Across the Raritan River is the Elmer R. Boyd Memorial Park. Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Source: Highland Park, New Jersey Park Commission; http://www.leoraw.com/hpenv/biod/ayres2.htm

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant blooming on date of the field trip, 3/30/2005.

Acer negundo (box elder maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo shrub)
Lonicera sp. (honeysuckle)
Rosa sp. (eglanteria) ?  (sweetbrier rose) ?

Hedera helix (English ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress)
Cardamine parviflora (small-flowered bittercress) *
Cirsium sp. (thistle -- bull?)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Xanthium sp. (clotbur)

Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)