Van Nest Refuge Fish and Wildlife Management Area
Hughes Drive, Hamilton Township, Mercer County, NJ
adjacent to Mercer County Park


Located on Hughes Drive near its intersection with Province Line Road (Route 533).  Heading north on Route 533 (Quaker Bridge/Province Line Road), take a right onto Hughes Drive and almost immediately make a left into the refuge entrance (a sign marks the entrance).  

(For maps see:


We did not hike the entire area but we did start what looks like a figure 8.  There is an interesting area down by the river or creek.   We saw a snapping turtle in the water.


10/25/04.  Drove down the narrow entrance and parked near the trail entrance, blocked off with a cable between two posts.  Headed down the trail heading southeast off south.  Turned right, heading south.  The trail starts heading east.  There are lots of bikers here because they have fixed up a lot of log jumps on the trail.  Come to a large dry field with sandy soil.  The path comes out into Mercer County Park by the west end of the lake.  I walk across the field and up onto the raised causeway around this end of the lake by the dam.  On top of the causeway I turned left and walked down to the dam.  A sign says authorized personnel only, so I head down the raised causeway to a small pond at the bottom of the spillway. I walk along side the pond and then Assunpink Creek.  The trail follows the water on and off and heads northwest, north and almost west.  I keep following the main trail and eventually it brings me back to the blue house near the trail entrance.  The trail bends to the left and brings me back to a T-intersection with the main trail.  Turning right, a short walk brings me back to my car.  I enjoyed the short walk with its change of habitats.  There are many informal trails around the area that I did not follow.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
*  =  plant blooming on date(s) of field trip(s) 7/31/98 and 10/25/04

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Catalpa sp. (catalpa)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum) quite a bit
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus sp. (pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix sp. (willow)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry)
Lindera benzoin (spice bush)
Lonicera mackii (Amur honeysuckle)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rosa sp. (blackberry)
Rubus flagellaris (dewberry)
Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Viburnum dentatum (smooth arrowwood viburnum)

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) 7/31/98
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax glauca (sawbrier)
Smilax rotundifolia (round leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 7/31/98
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) 7/31/98
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset) 7/31/98
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) 7/31/98
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting) 10/25/04
Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rose mallow)
Hypochaeris radicata (cat's ear) 10/25/04
Lespedeza cuneata (Chinese bush clover)
Lysimachia salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) 10/25/04
Peltandra virginica (arrow arum)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed) 7/31/98
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) 10/25/04
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tear thumb)
Solidago canadensis var. scabra (giant goldenrod)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein) 7/31/98

Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex crinita (sedge)
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Andropogon virginicus var. virginicus (Virginia brome grass)
Cinna arundinacea (wood reed grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)