The 209-acre Mill Creek Marsh was acquired for preservation by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission in 1996. Two years later, the Commission began to remediate the site, including re-establishing the tidal flow, constructing trails and planting native vegetation. The trail you will follow loops around a marsh and is situated along the Atlantic Flyway, offering the opportunity to view many...
The 209-acre Mill Creek Marsh was acquired for preservation by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission in 1996. Two years later, the Commission began to remediate the site, including re-establishing the tidal flow, constructing trails and planting native vegetation. The trail you will follow loops around a marsh and is situated along the Atlantic Flyway, offering the opportunity to view many species of birds (you might want to bring along a pair of binoculars).
Proceed through the gate to a signpost on the left, with a map of the area (the trail you will follow is marked in green on the map). Continue ahead on a gravel footpath lined with birch trees.
At the first junction you reach (with a sign for "Tidal Bays"), bear right (the left fork will be your return route). As you proceed ahead, you'll notice the New York skyline in the background.
To the left, the marsh is studded with stumps of ancient Atlantic white cedar trees (best seen at low tide), which thrived in the area when it was a freshwater swamp. The durable cedar wood was used by the early settlers for many purposes (including the construction of the original Paterson Plank Road), and by the early 19th century, few remained. All remaining cedars were destroyed by the completion in 1923 of the Oradell Reservoir dam on the Hackensack River, which allowed the influx of saltwater into the swamp. The stumps were buried for many years and were uncovered about ten years ago, when the site was remediated.
Continue ahead on the gravel footpath, crossing a footbridge over the marsh. You'll soon reach another, wider bridge on the right, but proceed ahead on the gravel path, which curves left and begins to head north, parallel to the eastern spur of the New Jersey Turnpike. When another path branches off to the left, continue ahead on the main path, parallel to the Turnpike.
After crossing another footbridge, the gravel path again curves left and heads first west and then south, circling the marsh. When a dirt path goes off to the right, continue ahead on the gravel path. At the next Y-intersection, bear left (the path to the right leads to a dead end in 500 feet). Then, at the following intersection (with signs for "Marsh Marvels" and "What's for Dinner?"), bear right. Soon, you'll come to an intersection where you'll see the "Tidal Bays" sign. Turn right and retrace your steps back to the parking area where the hike began.
To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 12/18/2008
This hike loops around an interesting marsh, with remnants of ancient Atlantic white cedar trees that thrived in the area centuries ago.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.