NJMC Opens Mill Creek Paddle Trail
By Hugh M. Carola
The first marked canoe trail in the Meadowlands–designed and created by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC)–is now open to the public. The water trail, located at the northern end of Secaucus, begins at Mill Creek Point Park near the confluence of Mill Creek and the Hackensack River and winds through the wetlands of the Mill Creek Marsh. The marsh is home to a diverse population of nesting and migratory birds including many species of shorebirds, ducks, raptors and herons.
“This trail is another demonstration of our commitment to ecologically friendly recreation and the increased attention we are bringing to a once-neglected urban wilderness,” said Susan Bass Levin, Chairman of the NJMC and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, at the trail’s opening ceremony on March 24. “We are providing a shining example here in Secaucus of how communities can grow and enjoy their natural areas at the same time,” she added.
“The best way to see the Meadowlands is from the water and folks can get started right here,” said Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell. “This trail is a tremendous next step in providing the people of our region with access to the Hackensack River,” agreed Hackensack Riverkeeper Program Director Hugh Carola.
NJMC Executive Director Bob Ceberio, the five Meadowlands Commissioners and Boy Scouts from Troop 120 in North Arlington officially opened the new trail by launching the first canoes on the trail the Scouts helped create.
Both the 2.5-mile round-trip route and the boat launch at Mill Creek Point Park were built thanks to a $20,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The trail will be open to canoeists and kayakers through May, when the park will be closed for the summer to allow the NJMC Parks Group and the Secaucus Department of Public Works complete its development. When finished later this year, the Park will feature a riverside promenade and fishing areas in addition to the boat launch. The NJMC also plans to construct a satellite environment center at the park sometime in the near future.
More plans are in store for Mill Creek Point Park. It will soon be the northern anchor of a 15-mile walkable greenway that is under development and will stretch from Mill Creek Point Park, south along the Hackensack River, to Lincoln Park West in Jersey City. The park’s grand opening is expected in early autumn.
Editor’s notes: The NJMC recently installed a similar 2-mile round-trip water trail in the Saw Mill Creek Wildlife Management Area in Kearny/Lyndhurst. The trail is accessible from Laurel Hill County Park at the southern end of Secaucus. Trail maps for both trails are available from the NJMC and from Hackensack Riverkeeper.
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