Remember: The safest place right now is at home.
The County’s official web site locates the Preserve on Pleasant Valley Road. But access to a principal trailhead is via the western end of Maple Street, roughly 1.1 miles west of NJ 18 in Old Bridge, NJ. Maple Street is approximately 7 miles south of Exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike and 2.5 miles north of the intersection of US 9 and NJ 18.
If coming from the north, take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit 123 and continue south for 6.2 miles on US 9. Turn right onto Ferry Road, follow it for 1.0 mile, and turn right onto NJ 18 North. In 1.0 mile, turn left onto Maple Street and follow it to Phillips Park. Park in the right rear (southeast) corner of the second parking lot, near the soccer fields.
GPS coordinates for the parking area: 40.382676, -74.349773
A large open space preserve combining wetlands and highlands; it includes a segment of the Spotswood Outlier of the New Jersey Pine Barrens
Phillips Preserve has four major hiking trails -- the yellow-blazed, handicapped-accessible Nature Trail (0.5 mile), the orange-blazed Blueberry Flats Trail (0.95 mile), the blue-blazed Old Bridge Sands Trail (1.1 miles), and the white-blazed Pleasant Valley Trail (2.1 miles). This hike makes a lollipop-shaped loop, following all four trails. There are many unmarked sand trails in the area, and care should be used to stay on the marked trails.
The area of the Preserve south of Pleasant Valley Road is open to hunting in the fall and winter.
At over 1,700 acres, the John A. Phillips Open Space Preserve is the largest contiguous parkland in Middlesex County's park system. Phillips Preserve includes 1,051 acres of wetlands and 677 acres of uplands, incorporating heavily forested areas. 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 includes a segment of the Spotswood Outlier of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This ecological “island” is located approximately 20 miles north of the main Pine Barrens and is an ecologically unique area characterized by sandy acidic soil and vegetation that is adapted to soil with few nutrients and little water-holding capability