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North Jersey's Best Rail Trails & Bike Paths

Patriots' Path

Patriots' Path is a well established multiuse trail that continues to grow.  As it currently exists, the path travels from East Hanover (which connects with the Lenape Trail in Essex County) to Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Sussex County and the Village of High Bridge in Hunterdon County.  In December 2011 the New Jersey Conservation Foundation transferred 6.5 acres to the Morris County Park Commission for a proposed extension of the trail.  The trailbed is varied, including gravel and paved sections as well as some narrow dirt and rock passings.

For more information about the path, check out Morris County Park Commission's website, which also has a Patriots' Path trail map.

Directions to the trailhead: 

Patriots' Path has multiple access points throughout its approximately 35 mile length.  The Morris County Park Commission's website has a useful map to help you find the access point closest to you

 

Columbia Trail

The Columbia Trail runs along approximately 15 miles of land in Morris and Hunterdon Counties.  The trail bed is mostly natural and gravel, part of it is on the former rail bed of the High Bridge Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey.  More information can be found on Morris County Park Commission's website and trail maps of the Morris County section and Hunterdon County section are also available.

Directions to the trailhead: 

To reach the northern end at Bartley, take I-80 to Exit 27A, proceed south on US 206 to Flanders.  Turn right onto Flanders-Bartley Road (County Route 614) for 0.7 mile, then turn left and continue for 1.5 miles to the end of the active rail line.

To reach the southern end of the trail in High Bridge take I-78 to Exit 17 (Clinton), continue north on NJ 31 for 1.9 miles and turn right onto County Route 513.

 

Sussex Branch Trail

Voted Trail of the Month in January 2011 by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Sussex Branch Trail offers over 21 miles of scenic ride from Allamuchy to Branchville, passing through Allamuchy Mountain State Park and Kittatinny Valley State Park.  The trail from Allamuchy to Cranberry Lake is well-maintained and family friendly.  North through Andover, however, the ride gets a bit rougher (and hard to follow after crossing High Street in Andover; ride along Railroad Ave. to continue on the trail) until it reaches Kittatinny Valley State Park where it smooths out again.  The trail bypasses Newton on about a mile and a half of paved roads (posted signs indicate the detour).  With the exception of the paved roads, the trailbed is comprised of crushed stone, gravel, ballast, cinder and dirt. 

It's quite a nice ride (with the exception of the section just north of Cranberry Lake, which is in disrepair) that passes through several towns where you can take a break or stop for a bite to eat.  The Sussex Branch Trail intersects the Paulinskill Trail at Warbasse (south of Route 94 on Route 663).

Directions to the trailhead:

The trail has several access points.  It starts (or ends) at the Allamuchy Mountain State Park parking area on Waterloo Road.  Take 206 North (Exit 25 off of I-80) and turn left on Waterloo Road (a mile or so north of the interstate).  A couple miles down the parking area will be on the right (north) side, where Continental Drive intersects Waterloo Road.

Another access point is the Park-and-Ride lot at Cranberry Lake, a few miles farther north on Route 206.  Continue up 206 to Kittatinny Valley State Park for yet another place to access the trail.   Follow this link for still more parking locations.

 

Paulinskill Trail

The Paulinskill Trail covers 27 miles, much of which is along the Paulinskill River.  The trail crosses from Warbasse Junction near Sparta through Blairstown to Columbia Lake in Warrington.  It was historically a railroad and is currently part of Kittatinny Valley State Park and therefore is a relatively flat wide path that is family friendly and well maintained in most sections.  The Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee published an interesting history and description of the trail.

Directions to the trailhead:

From Sparta, head north on Route 15 to Route 94 and turn left.  About a quarter of a mile down, turn left onto Route 663 for another quarter of a mile and then turn right into the parking area.

To ride the best-maintained sections, around Blairstown, start at Footbridge Park.  From I-80, take Route 521 north (exit 12) for five miles to Route 94 in Blairstown.  Turn left on 94 and take the second left into the park.

The official western trailhead is at Columbia Lake off of Route 94 on Burgler Road in Warrington.

 

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