Location: Pleasant Valley Road, East Greystone Road: Old Bridge Township
Size: 1728 Acres
Facilities: Hiking Trails, Self Guide-Nature Trail, Parking Area, Restrooms, Playground in adjacent John A. Phillips Park
Use caution when crossing Pleasant Valley Road.
There are many old, unmarked trails. For your safety—please stay on the marked trails.
The John A. Phillips Preserve is the largest contiguous holding in the County’s park system. The preserve offers approximately 6.5 miles of marked or paved hiking trails, as well as numerous unmarked sand roads. There is a 1.5 mile self guided nature trail, with interpretive brochures available at the trailhead
The preserve includes hundreds of acres of wetlands and heavily forested uplands. Several stream corridors run through the area, including the Iresick Brook and a tributary of the Barclay Brook. Both of these streams enter the Matchaponix Brook, a major tributary of the South River.
The preserve lies within the Spotswood Outlier—the northernmost area of New Jersey Pine Barrens habitat. Along the several miles of trails you can find typical Pine Barrens species—pitch pine trees, blueberries, huckleberries and rare orchids such as the Pink Lady’s Slipper. More than 50 species of nesting birds have been identified. Red fox are not uncommon.
Several Bio-Blitz events were held at the preserve in conjunction with the Chrysler Herbarium at Rutgers University. A full listing of species can be found at their website.
The land for the John A. Phillips Preserve was acquired in 1997 and was one of the first purchases of the Middlesex County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. The property was acquired from Olympia and York, a development corporation who had planned nearly 10,000 high density housing units for the area. Shortly after the land was protected, plans were made for the 100-acre John A. Phillips Park which would provide recreational facilities for that area of the county, while leaving the remaining 1600-acres for passive recreation. Trails were laid out, constructed and are maintained by the Middlesex County Conservation Corps
. The MCCC was proposed by the late Freeholder Director, David B. Crabiel to help meet the management needs for the additional land acquired through the Open Space Trust Fund.
John A. “Jack” Phillips was a resident of Laurence Harbor for 40 years. He served as a councilman in Old Bridge Township from 1958-1960 and as the mayor from 1960-1962. He was also a Middlesex County Freeholder from 1962-1983, serving as the Deputy Director from 1973-1983. The park and preserve are named in his memory for his long and untiring commitment to the youth of Old Bridge Township and Middlesex County.