Local Roots

Pohatcong Native Arboretum

The Pohatcong Creek winds thirty miles through Warren County from its source just west of Hackettstown to the Delaware River south of Phillipsburg, following another of the many Appalachian ridges that run across Northwest New Jersey. Its watershed lies parallel and between those of the Musconetcong River to the south and the Pequest to the north. Just about halfway along its route down the to Delaware Valley, the river crosses State Route 31 between Oxford and Washington Borough. As it approaches Mine Hill Road, butting up to Round Top Mountain, the river enters Washington Township Park, part of the Pohatcong Creek Natural Area, and home to the recently established Pohatcong Native Arboretum.

The proliferation of non-native species of flora and fauna in New Jersey has long been a concern for ecologists, especially in our fragile wetlands where a sustainable natural balance is imperative. Conservancies all over the state are reestablishing native species wherever they can. Here at the arboretum, visitors can see exactly what some of those plants are.

Although officially dedicated this past July, the arboretum was eleven years in the making. Students from the Warren Hills Regional High School planted the first trees here in 2002. Since then, in fits and starts, but always under the guidance of local botanist and native plant specialist, Anthony Pasquini, the Pohatcong Arboretum has become home to over 130 species of native trees and shrubs. “This is the only arboretum in New Jersey that concentrates solely on native plants,” says Pasquini. “It is one of the most comprehensive collections of woody plants in the mid-Atlantic region.”

In a fenced-in, deer proof, area specimens are organized by family and planted in raised beds covered with glacial stones; some from the Delaware River, some from the mountain. Signs identify each plant by its familiar, rather than scientific name: Dogwood rather than Cornaceae; Rose rather than Rosaceae, Hydrangea, Birch, Laurel, Maple, Heath, Hazelnut, Ash. Some of the plants came from nurseries, some came out of the woods. The “energetic center” of the project, the Circle of Life, incorporates native American Indian spiritual aspects, contributed by designer “Seneca” Jeff Stevens, who oriented plants in ways they grow naturally, included markers for the compass directions, and added a beautiful sculpture reminiscent of a dream catcher.

The exhibition rises up the hill out of the fenced area with new plantings of oak, ash, American chestnut, beech, even a Jersey pine. There is also the Robert Rush Memorial log cabin, which has been assigned for future use by Warren County Arts. Then it’s on into the woods for a 1.8 mile trail loop along the creek and through the wetlands along boardwalks constructed, again by students. More natives: a cherry here, a black walnut there, and a big old tulip tree. Did you ever walk in the woods and wonder exactly what each and every plant within sight was? A trip here gets you started!

The arboretum, located at 56 Mine Hill Rd, Washington, is open during daylight hours, closed Mondays. 908/343-5274, or email.

Nearby accommodations and attractions

  • Delaware River Railroad Excursions
  • An adventure every season on scenic steam train excursions along the Delaware River staffed by enthusiastic volunteers! Catch the Warren County Winery Train, River and Steam Train Ride, Mine Train, Day Out With Thomas and many more!

    100 Elizabeth St., Phillipsburg, 1-877/872-4674

  • Big Skylands Country
  • Warren County's Montana Mountain, Merrill Creek Reservoir, and the Pohatcong Valley is equally rewarding for students of history and devotees of the outdoors.

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  • Inn at Millrace Pond
  • Located just one mile south of I-80, the inn includes comfortable guest rooms, wireless internet, exciting contemporary dining and intimate Fireside Tavern in a restored 1769 stone gristmill. An on-site meeting house provides a unique campus setting without distraction.

    319 Hope Johnsonburg Rd. (Rt. 519), Hope 07844, 908/459-4884

  • 4 Track
  • Bike Sales, Service and Rentals - Hiking Gear and Supplies - Model Trains and Hobby Supply. Located on historic Main Street in Blairstown, 4 Track is only 1/8 mile from the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail, a beautiful 26 mile cinder bed flat rail-trail, perfect for cycling or hiking! 4 Track is also a great starting point for a short hike on the Appalachian Trail with a full supply of gear and maps.

    15 Main St , Blairstown 07825, 908-362-5699

  • Brook Hollow Farm
  • PYO apples, several varieties including semi-dwarf trees (great for kids). Peaches from our orchards, pumpkins, farm market. Wagon rides on fall weekends. Near the beautiful Delaware Water Gap, Rt 80 ex 4 to Rt 94 N, 3 1/2 mi to Frog Pond Rd. You?ll be glad you found us!

    Frog Pond Rd., Columbia 07832, 908/496-4577

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