Milford, Holland Township, Hunterdon County, NJ
36 acres
NJNLT = 166 acres


From New York City, take US 78 west and
get off at Exit 7 for Route 173 south.
After a short drive, the road forks,
take the left-most branch for Route 639 (Warren Glen-Bloomsbury Road)

This will then take you south on Route 519 to Milford. (If you can find Spring Garden Road on the right as you approach Milford, the parking area is just 1.1 miles south of this road, on the right.) If not, go into Milford and find the first traffic light (the one that intersects with the road going .2 miles to the bridge over the Delaware River). Turn around and travel 1.2 miles to the area for the parking on the left. If no parking available in this small area just go .2 miles further north and park here, again on your left.)

Milford Bluffs is quite small but abuts a larger tract owned by the New Jersey Natural Lands Trusts (NJNLT). In fact, TNC accesses its tract here by crossing the NJNLT property along a gated driveway off of Route 519. The more interesting botanical hot spots at this site, however, are on the bluffs themselves which is much easier to see from the road at the base of the bluffs along the Delaware River.


Working as partners, The Nature Conservancy and the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust preserved 202 acres of Milford Bluffs Preserve -- a stretch of bluffs rising high above the Delaware River in Hunterdon County. Here is a two-mile stretch of red shale cliffs rising 200 feet above the Delaware River.

The town of Milford was home to a saw mill by 1760.  This mill burned but was replaced by another, and, in addition, a grist mill was added.  A ferry was licensed to cross the Delaware River and eventually the town came to be known as Mill-ford Ferry.  In 1911 Milford incorporated as a borough by a vote of 126 to 20, separating from Holland Township.  

Milford's major industry was paper milling.  Today the major employer is "The Baker" -- the trademark of the Adams Bakery Corporation.  

From the bluffs you can see across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.  The town across from Milford is Upper Black Eddy and the road is Route 32.  Also here is the Pennsylvania Canal.  A system of State-built public works to connect Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lake Erie.  The Delaware Division, Bristol-Easton, begun 1827; operated by the State 1831-58, and by private owners to 1931.  A State park since 1940.

The first botanist known to survey the bluffs was T. C. Porter in 1867.


(Fables, David and Laurel Houda. 1951. "A preliminary report on the vascular flora and vertebrate: Fauna of the Bluffs North of Milford, NJ" Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. Vol. 78, no. 6, pp. 464-471.)

The sandstone and shale bluffs north of Milford, Hunterdon County, NJ rise up from the Delaware River like a West Jersey palisade. The plants growing on these bluffs often hang tenaciously to crevice in the rocks for their very existence. All identified vascular plants and the resident or breeding vertebrates of the area were included in a survey made during the 1950 season.

Description of Area. The region covered by this report is approximately two miles in length and extends back from the road, which parallels the river, some two hundred yards. A single gravel road climbs over the bluffs at a point somewhat more than a mile north of Milford. We covered the area adjoining this road to the summit of the bluff. There are several places where trickling rivulets spill down over the ledges to the road level, and then flow under the road to the river below. One attractive waterfall is hidden some fifty yards back from the road, the water-splashed rocks at its base being covered with liverworts.

Perhaps the most unusual floral display is that of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) which grows so abundantly on the overhanging ledges, covering them with a yellow bloom in July. To date, in our searching, more than forty clumps of the hairy lip fern have been found, some of them eking out an existence on virtually barren rock. Atop the bluffs are numerous jersey pines (Pinus virginiana), seemingly out of place to one accustomed to observing then on the flat Coastal Plain to the south.

To see the Milford bluffs at their finest one should visit them in late April or early May, when the firs real burst of lasting warmth has brought out the delicate spring flora which carpets the ground and rocks, when the lichens and mosses are still conspicuous and before the advent of most leaves.

Geology. A very unusual interfingering of shale, sandstone and conglomerate dating from the Triassic occurs. The area is unglaciated. Reference to Bulletin #50, State Geologic Series, The Geology of New Jersey would give the reader a complete picture of the formations found beneath the existent flora and soil. The interbedding of conglomerate with shale and sandstone makes a very attractive pattern, especially when the deep red tones of the cliffs are brightened by the vivid greens and yellows of the mosses and lichens. Much of the charm of the region can be attributed to the layering of successive deposits of shale and sandstone.

Milford Bluffs is part of the Piedmont district.  The Piedmont consists of the foothills of the southern Appalachians.  This very considerable region stretches along the East Coast from the vicinity of the Hudson River in Rockland County to the state of Georgia and beyond.  

The margin between the Piedmont surface and the coastal plain is called the Fall Line and is literally a line of waterfalls and rapids about 10 kilometers or more in extent at intervals along 1,000 kilometers of coastal plain., The Fall Line marks the limit of seaward erosion of the surface when sea level was much higher than now.  

Many rivers flow from the mountains to the ocean over the Fall Line.  This line is therefore the head of navigable waters from the sea.  Because of this and because waterfalls provided waterpower to drive waterwheels for industry, cities and town were founded wherever rivers and Fall Line intersected -- notably Trenton, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Columbia, Augusta, Macon, Birmingham, and many others.  

The red cliffs of  Milford Bluffs are part of the Brunswick Formation of the Triassic period (245-210 million years ago).  This is the last formation of three Newark series (the others being Lockatong and Stockton).  It is named for its outcroppings along the Raritan River at New Brunswick, NJ.   Rock of the Brunswick formation is the most abundant type exposed in northeastern NJ.  It is composed chiefly of soft red shales (shale being a sedimentary rock formed from clay) with interbedded sandstones, the latter being more abundant and coarser toward the northeast.

This rock readily crumbles into thin flakes or flaky fragments, the soft, bright red shales of this formation underlie the greatest area of the New Jersey Lowland. Fine-grained, micaceous red sandstone containing abundant quartz suggests that the Brunswick sediments were probably derived from pre-existing sandstones and shales, perhaps from those that occurred in the mountains and plateaus to the west.


Milford Bluffs boasts an unusual red shale cliff/rock outcrop community.  There is a lot of dry woods here.  In addition, there are large fields and a small pond.  

Its unusual natural red shale cliff/rock outcrop community provides habitat for several plants that are rare in the state, including the green violet and hairy lipfern.


Dr. Patrick L. Cooney (and Torrey Botanical Society, esp. Dr. William F. Standaert, Ralph Wilen, and Karl Anderson)

Acer negundo (box elder maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Celtis occidentalis (American hackberry)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juglans nigra (black walnut) 5/26/98
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Ostrya virginiana (eastern hop horn beam)
Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree)
Pinus virginiana (scrub pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus malus (crab apple)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) a red horticultural variety too
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen) 5/26/98 soon to bloom
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera maackii (honeysuckle)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle) 5/26/98 waning
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Opuntia humifusa (prickly pear cactus)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac) 7/10/98 in fr.
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 5/26/98
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry) 5/26/98
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium angustifolium (low bush blueberry)
Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry) 5/26/98
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Humulus lupulus (common hops)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) 5/26/98
Menispermum canadense (moonseed)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade) 7/25/98
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vincetoxicum nigrum (black swallowwort)
Vitis riparia (riverbank grape)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 7/10/98
Agrimonia pubescens (downy agrimony) 7/25/98
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 5/26/98 7/10/98
Allium vineale (field garlic) 7/10/98
Anagallis arvensis (scarlet pimpernel) 7/25/98
Anemone virginiana (thimbleweed)
Antennaria plantaginifolia (plantain-leaved pussytoes)
Apocynum cannabinum (dogbane) white flowers lfs short stalked 7/10/98 7/25/98
Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit)
Asclepias purpurascens (purple milkweed) 7/10/98
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) 7/10/98
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) 5/26/98
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed) 5/26/98
Chelidonium majus (celandine) 5/26/98
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 5/26/98 soon to bloom 7/10/98 7/25/98
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade) 7/10/98
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Cirsium discolor (field thistle)
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle) 7/25/98
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry) 7/10/98 & in fr. 7/25/98
Epifagus virginiana (beech drops)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) 5/26/98 7/10/98 7/25/98
Erigeron philadelphicus (Philadelphia fleabane) 5/26/98
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) 7/25/98
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 7/25/98
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Galinsoga sp. (galinsoga) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Galium aparine (cleavers bedstraw)
Galium asprellum (rough bedstraw) 7/25/98
Galium lanceolatum (pointed-lvd wild licorice bedstraw)
Geranium sp. (a white geranium) 5/26/98
Geum laciniatum (rough avens) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Hackelia virginiana (Virginia stickseed) 7/25/98
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily) 7/10/98
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket) 5/26/98 7/10/98 7/25/98
Heuchera americana (common alumroot)
Hieracium caespitosum (yellow king devil hawkweed) 5/26/98
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed) 7/25/98
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed) 5/26/98 7/25/98 one left in bloom
Hybanthus concolor (green violet) ; rich woods; spring flowering
Hypericum mutilum (dwarf St. Johnswort) 7/25/98
Hypericum perforatum (common St. Johnswort) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Hypericum punctatum (spotted St. Johnswort)
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Krigia biflora (two-flowered dwarf dandelion) 5/26/98
Lespedeza cuneata (Chinese bush clover)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) 7/25/98
Ludwigia palustris (marsh purslane)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) 7/25/98
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 5/26/98
Melampyrum lineare (cow wheat) 7/25/98
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover) 5/26/98
Mimulus ringens (monkey flower)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe) 7/25/98
Nepeta cataria (catnip) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) 5/26/98 7/10/98 7/25/98
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed) 7/25/98
Penstemon hirsutus (hairy beardtongue) 5/26/98 7/10/98
Phryma leptostachya (lopseed) 7/25/98
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Plantago major (common plantain) 7/25/98
Podophyllum peltatum (may apple)
Polygala verticillata (whorled milkwort) 7/25/98
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 5/26/98 7/10/98 7/25/98
Polygonum persicaria (lady's thumb knotweed) 7/25/98
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed knotweed) 7/25/98
Potentilla norvegica (rough cinquefoil) 7/25/98
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 5/26/98
Prenanthes sp. (lettuce)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf buttercup) 5/26/98 waning
Rumex acetosella (field dock)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil) 7/10/98
Scrophularia marilandica (Maryland figwort) 7/25/98
Senecio aureus (golden ragwort) 5/26/98
Silene latifolia (white campion) 5/26/98
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) 7/10/98
Solanum carolinense (horse nettle nightshade) 7/25/98
Solidago arguta (sharp-leaved goldenrod) 7/25/98
Solidago caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod)
Solidago gigantea (late goldenrod) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Solidago juncea (early goldenrod)
Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod)
Stellaria media (common chickweed) 5/26/98
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) 5/26/98 7/10/98
Teucrium canadense (American germander) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Tragopogon pratensis (yellow goat's bear) 5/26/98
Trifolium arvense (rabbit foot clover) 7/25/98
Trifolium aureum (yellow clover) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Trifolium repens (white clover) 5/26/98 7/10/98 7/25/98
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus looking glass)
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein) 7/10/98
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein) 7/10/98
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain) 7/10/98 7/25/98
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell) 5/26/98

Carduus nutans (nodding thistle)
Carex hirtifolia
Carex lupulina
Carex lurida
Carex pensylvanica
Carex retroflexa
Carex scoparia
Carex stipata
Carex vulpinoidea var. annectans
Cyperus strigosus (strigose nutsedge)
Eleocharis ovata (spike rush)

Juncus effusus (soft rush)

Arrhenatherum elatius (tall oat grass)
Bromus japonica (Japanese brome grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Deschampsia flexuosa (hairgrass) 7/10/98
Elymus hystrix (bottle brush grass)
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue)
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow star grass) 5/26/98
Leersia oryzoides (rice cut grass)
Leersia virginica (white grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Muhlenbergia sobolifera (muhly grass)
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)
Poa compressa (flat-stemmed bluegrass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Cheilanthes lanosa (hairy lipfern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris carthusiana (toothed woodfern)
Dryopteris intermedia (fancy woodfern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Woodsia obtusa (blunt cliff fern)

rare plants, according to TNC:
Agrimonia microcarpa (small-fruited groovebur)
Hybanthus concolor (green violet)
Kuhnia eupatorioides (false boneset)

Others: roseroot and smooth veiny peavine (Source:


Characteristic Flora.

Fables, David and Laurel Houda. 1951. "A preliminary report on the vascular flora and vertebrate: Fauna of the Bluffs North of Milford, NJ" Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. Vol. 78, no. 6, pp. 464-471.

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Anemone quinquefolia (wood anemone) spring
Anemonella thalictroides (rue anemone) spring
Antennaria canadensis (pussy toes) summer
Arabis lyrata (lyre-leaved rock cress) spring
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) summer
Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort)
Asplenium trichomanes (maidenhair spleenwort)
Aster novae-angliae (New England aster) autumn
Aster puniceus (late purple aster) autumn
Athyrium thelypteroides (silver spleenwort)
Botrychium virginianum (rattlesnake fern)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Celtis occidentalis (hackberry)
Cheilanthes lanosa (hairy lip fern)
Claytonia virginiana (spring beauty) spring
Cyperus strigosus (umbrella flat sedge)
Cystopteris fragilis (brittle fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dentaria diphylla (two-leaved crinkleroot) spring
Dentaria laciniata (cut-leaved crinkleroot) spring
Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches) spring
Diervilla lonicera (bush honeysuckle) summer
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal wood fern)
Elymus hystrix (bottle-brush grass)
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Eragrostis pectinacea (purple love grass)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) autumn
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower) autumn
Hepatica americana (hepatica) spring
Heuchera americana (alumroot) spring
Hybanthus concolor (green violet) spring
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Lobelia syphilitica (great blue lobelia) autumn
Monarda didyma (bee balm) summer
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Panicum clandestinum (hispid panic grass)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) summer
Phlox subulata (moss pink) spring
Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark)
Pinus virginiana (Jersey pine)
Polypodium virginianum (rock polypody fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Pycnanthemum sp. (Hoary mountain mint) autumn
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Ranunculus fasicularis (early woodland crowfoot) spring
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) summer
Rubus odoratus (purple-flowering raspberry) summer
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) spring
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Saxifraga virginiensis (early saxifrage) spring
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Solidago arguta (sharp-leaved goldenrod) autumn
Solidago caesia (blue stemmed goldenrod) autumn
Taenidia integerrima (yellow pimpernel) spring
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Triodia flava (red top grass)
Triosteum perfoliatum (horse gentian) summer
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)
Vernonia noveboracensis (ironweed) autumn
Viburnum prunifolium (black haw viburnum)
Viola rotundifolia (round-leaved yellow violet) spring
Woodsia obtusa (blunt-lobed cliff fern)

Many of the above species were listed by Britton in his Catalogue of the Plants of New Jersey -- 1889, as occurring at Milford. Apparently the passing years have treated them kindly, for the majority of them can still be located.