Davidson’s Mill Pond Park
South Brunswick, NJ 08852
Overview of Selected Trail
Davidson Mill Pond Park consists of 482 acres located in South Brunswick, NJ. The Park is primarily undeveloped, retaining much of it natural wooded beauty and former farm open space. It is owned and operated by the Middlesex County Parks Department. For more information visit: Middlesex County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Mill Pond Trail (blue blazes): .5 mile
Old Farm Road Trail: 1.5 miles
Eco Trail: 0.1 mile
Mill Pond Trail: 20-30 minutes
Old Farm Road Trail: 30 – 40 minutes
Eco Trail: 15 – 20 minutes
Mill Pond Trail and Old Farm Road Trail are marked with paint blazes. The Eco Trail is marked by a National Wildlife Refuge sign.
Walking/Hiking, Dogs permitted on leash
Mill Pond Trail: Several moderate descents/ascents, some with stone steps
Old Farm Road Trail: Minimal elevation change
Eco Trail: Flat, mowed pathway through meadow area
Mill Pond Trail: Moderate; narrow, rocky or unstable footing with exposed roots in a few sections.
Old Farm Road Trail: Easy; level, wide, hard packed earth.
Eco Trail: Easy; flat – meadow may be wet in places with some thorns.
Two parking areas are available, both off the main entrance road in the park. For the most convenient access to trails, park near the boat launch area.
There are some wonderful parks in Middlesex County to explore. When exiting woods and fields be sure to check for ticks and remove immediately.
Canoeing, kayaking and small electric motor boats are permitted on Davidson Mill Pond, where fishing and ice fishing is good. Large open areas fringed by forest afford space to play and explore. A display vegetable garden, herb garden, wildflower area and small butterfly garden are available for public viewing. Administrative offices for Rutgers Cooperative Extension, 4-H, Family & Community Health Services, and Middlesex Master Gardeners are located in the park. Middlesex County Parks scheduled outdoor events and lectures are held throughout the year. Davidson Mill Pond Park does not contain public restroom facilities, but a port-a-john is on site.
From New Brunswick:
Take the exit for Rt. 130 South off Rt.1. At light after Middlesex County Offices & Correctional Center, make left (Davidson Mill Rd.). Make first right onto Riva Ave. Park is on the left.
From New Jersey Turnpike:
Take Exit 8A. Follow signs for Rt. 32 West. Take Rt. 130 North (New Brunswick). Make right onto Davidson Mill Rd. Make first right onto Riva Ave. Park is on the left.
Mill Pond Trail Overview:
The Mill Pond Trail provides a leisurely hiking experience through the forested water’s edge before looping back to the Old Farm Road Trail. This trail also provides great views of Davidson Mill Pond, part of the Lawrence Brook Watershed, and is dotted with stone steps and natural points of interest. The trail is marked with blue blazes and can be muddy in spots in the spring, and icy in winter. Adequate footwear is important.
As you leave the boat ramp parking lot and head through the gate, a sign marks the Mill Pond Trail trailhead about 100 yards up on the right. The trail begins in mature, upland forest, along the road that once allowed irrigation of the former farm, before it reaches Davidson Mill Pond. With a sharp turn to the left (marked), the trail enters the more dense woods along the water with gentle changes in elevation as it progresses along its narrow, winding way. Most of the journey is along this part of the route before the trail bends left, back to a 10 foot gentle and gradual rise in elevation. After about 100 yards, the trail merges with the Old Farm Road Trail. A left will take you back to the Earth Center and your starting point; a right will take you along the Old Farm Road trail.
Old Farm Road Trail Overview:
The Old Farm Road trail provides a leisurely walking or jogging trail along a wide, flat farm road. The trail begins just past the RCE Earth Center buildings at the far edge of that parking lot. The trail is marked with white paint blazes and can be muddy in spots, especially in the spring. Adequate footwear is important.
The Old Farm Road trail begins past the RCE Earth Center Buildings at far edge of that parking lot. Since this is an old farm road, it is wide and flat. Eventually, the trail comes to a “T” and the right or left fork can be chosen. The left fork runs through the closer edge of the woods and loops around to the left back to the Earth Center. The right fork runs through the outer edge of the woods and loops around to the left, eventually joining up with the same part of the trail as the left fork had taken. The right fork features a small pond and is only about .3 miles longer than the left fork.
After emerging from the forest, proceed along the edge of the field and make a left onto the park service road at the “Man’s House”. (The Man’s House is one of the few remaining original farm structures, and housed the hired man’s family, hence the name “Man’s House”.) As you are headed back to the Earth Center, you will see the old Carriage House and stone well on the right, another of the original farm structures remaining. You will see the Earth Center in front of you and as you return, you will pass the butterfly, vegetable and herb gardens on your left.
Eco Trail Overview:
The Eco Trail begins on the left as you pass through the gate by the Boat Ramp Parking Lot, directly across the road from the Mill Pond trail. It is marked by a National Wildlife Refuge sign and a Wildflower Preserve sign. This is a mowed path through a meadow, open to the full sun. Parts of the meadow may be wet and prickly, so adequate footwear is important.
From the small pond, “Jess’s Pond”, adjacent to the boat ramp parking lot, proceed through the gate, past the pond. The wildflower meadow is on the left and the entrance to the Eco Trail is on the corner of the meadow. This area is chock full of native grasses and wildflowers. It is a bird & butterfly haven. Though the path is mowed, enclosed shoes are required, due to stickers, stumps and roots. (In winter, this makes a natural beginners cross country ski route, with adequate snowfall.)
The Eco Trail meets up with the park service road and leads to either the Mill Pond or Old Farm Road trails for an integrated hiking experience.
The wooded portion of Davidson Mill Pond Park is primarily a mature, late succession or “climax forest” dominated by American Beech, Oaks, Birch, Tulip Poplar and Sweet Gum. Dogwood, Sassafras, Summersweet and Chokeberry run through the understory, while Solomon’s Seal, Wintergreen, Skunk Cabbage, Fiddlehead Fern and Ground Pine peak through the forest floor.
The meadow sections of the park put on a showy display of Milkweed, Aster, Yarrow, Queen Anne’s Lace, Cardinal Flower, Wild Mint, Primrose and more. Included in the former farm area of the park, Middlesex County Master Gardeners and staff have established vegetable, herb and flower gardens for public display and education.
Davidson Mill Pond itself is home to mallards, black ducks, great blue herons and beavers. Due to the ideal mix of forest, meadow and proximity to Davidson Mill Pond, birders enjoy a variety of sightings including Eastern bluebirds, killdeer, wood thrush, cedar waxwing, hummingbirds, red-tailed hawks and woodpeckers to name just a few. Over 65 avian species have been documented in the park.
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The original land for Davidson Mill Pond Park was acquired in 1975 under the Green Acres Act and was added to in subsequent years. The pond itself, Davidson Mill Pond, is part of the: Lawrence Brook Watershed
The White Trail was originally part of a network of farm roads located on the Tantum Farm, which subsequently became the Park. The original farm dates back to the 1800s (history of the park appearing on the above web page). As a former farm road, the Old Farm Road trail is wide and easily traversed by bike or foot. The Mill Pond trail was created in 2008 by the Middlesex County Youth Conservation Corps and is maintained by Middlesex County Master Gardeners.
The Mill Pond trail runs along Davidson Mill Pond, a picturesque, winding trail, studded with stone steps and pond views. Rutgers Cooperative Extension set up administrative offices in the Park in 2004. Since then, vegetable and herb display gardens have been established in the open area of the park, and a natural preserve area created to sustain native wildlife and wildflowers. Native and pest resistant trees and shrubs have been added to a mini arboretum area. Also, a rain garden was established to collect and filter stormwater runoff.
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