Jersey’s Family-Friendly Bike Paths
For the average family bicyclist, the best cycling is where you can ride without fear of traffic. Fortunately, New Jersey has many paved and unpaved bike paths along abandoned railbeds, canal paths and woodlands. All that’s required is a hybrid or trail bike (for the unpaved paths), helmet, snacks and water. All of these trails are relatively flat and good for family riding. Keep in mind that unpaved trails can be muddy after rainy periods. Bad weather can wreak havoc with bike trails, so check their condition online before heading out.
High Bridge to Long Valley (Hunterdon and Morris counties)
Length: 11 miles one way
Surface: crushed stone
Almost entirely flat, this trail follows an old railbed along the South Branch of the Raritan River. Park in the municipal lot in High Bridge (69 West Main Street). The trail quickly heads into thick woods. The trail proceeds along a ledge high above the river, with slate cliffs rising dramatically on the right. At about the halfway point, you enter Morris County, where forest gives way to farmland in places. The ride ends at Long Valley.
D&R Canal/Feeder Canal
Titusville to Frenchtown (Mercer and Hunterdon counties)
Length: 22.5 miles
Surface: crushed stone, gravel
They say there’s no finer ride in Jersey than this flat cruise along the Delaware River. Park at Washington’s Crossing and head north through quaint Titusville and into Lambertville. Take a detour into Bull’s Island State Park to venture out on the footbridge over the river. It’s 10 more miles to Frenchtown, at which point you can opt to cross the river and ride back along the river on the Pennsylvania side.
D&R Canal/Main Canal
Port Mercer to Blackwell’s Mills (Mercer County)
Length: 15 miles one way
Surface: crushed stone, gravel
The inland portion of the D&R Canal State Park trail runs almost 34 miles from Trenton to New Brunswick. To enjoy the most scenic part of the trail, park in the lot near the Port Mercer Canal House (off Route 1 at Province Line Road). Ride north along Lake Carnegie in Princeton, past the historic canal locks in Kingston and Griggstown. It’s a perfect family ride, with well-marked road crossings. Slow down for the slate-covered spillways, which are bumpy and slippery when wet.
Elephant Swamp Trail
Elk Township to Elmer (Gloucester and Salem counties)
Length: 5 miles one way
Surface: gravel and sand
The trail starts in a forested area off Route 538 in the Aura section of Elk Township and winds through farmland, streams and wetlands. Keep an eye out for ruts, rocks and puddles. Signs along the Elk Township section provide information on surrounding plants, trees and wildlife. On its way to Salem County, the trail crosses Monroeville Road before entering Upper Pittsgrove Township and ending on Route 40.
Hudson River Waterfront Walkway
(Hudson and Bergen counties)
Length: 18.5 miles one way
Surface: blacktop, brick
This pathway follows the western shore of the Hudson River, in what will eventually be a continuously connected 30-foot-wide path from the tip of Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge. Because the project isn’t complete, riders should be prepared to navigate car traffic in a few areas. Technically the walkway is accessible from several areas along the route. To see entry points and an interactive map, visit HudsonRiverWaterfront.org.
Monroe Township Bikeway
Glassboro to Monroe Township (Gloucester County)
Length: 6.36 miles one way
This tree-lined, flat trail begins in a commercial zone (off Delsea Drive near Route 322) and proceeds through the Glassboro Fish and Wildlife Management Area. In Monroe, the path runs parallel to residential development, farmland and power lines and crosses Fries Mill and Tuckahoe Roads. The trail ends at the Monroe Township Police Station on Blue Bell Road. Grab a snack at the nearby Heritage’s convenience store, then head back to Glassboro.
Length: 3 miles
Patriot’s Path zigzags for 55 miles, much of the trail surfaced in crushed rock is poorly maintained and badly marked. But one short ride in Morristown is blacktop and plenty of fun, especially for families with little riders. The ride starts at Speedwell Park in Morristown (Speedwell Avenue and Cory Road) and runs smoothly along Speedwell Lake. You’ll reach the second Patriot’s Path sign (toward the recycling center). Skip the unpaved trail entrance and proceed to where the paved trail continues. This section has a long, gradual climb. The paved trail ends at Washington Valley Road. Turn back and enjoy the descent.
Saddle River Area Bike Path
Ridgewood to Rochelle Park (Bergen County)
Length: 7.5 miles one way
This paved corridor uses bridges and underpasses to avoid road crossings as it snakes through Bergen County. That makes for a safe, pleasant, mostly flat ride, suitable even for kids on trikes. It’s also a favorite of joggers and strollers. Start in the parking lot at Wild Duck Pond (Ridgewood Avenue) and follow the signs to Saddle River County Park.
Gateway National Recreation Area (Monmouth County)
Length: 7 miles one way
This peninsula is a mix of nature and history, and the best way to see it is by bicycle. Start at the southernmost parking lot and pedal north, with the bay on your left. The path winds past beaches and through holly forests on its way to Fort Hancock. Ride past the crumbling yellow-brick homes along officers’ row, then stop to explore the gun batteries and the nation’s oldest original lighthouse, built before the Revolution. Before heading back, climb to the North Beach observation deck to take it all in, from the ships at sea to the towers of Manhattan.
Union Transportation Trail
Upper Freehold (Monmouth County)
Length: 9 miles one way
This trail on the western edge of Monmouth County follows an abandoned railbed dating back to the Civil War. The final stretch of the trail is finished, so you can now ride from Route 537 to Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, through horse farms, past ponds and streams, and across 11 bridges. When you reach the northern end, you can extend your ride on the lightly trafficked roads through Assunpink. A good side trip is to nearby Historic Walford at Crosswicks Creek Park, a restored gristmill and farmstead.