Bike Riding in New Jersey
Looking to bike more than your neighborhood? These great bike paths are guaranteed to keep your kids happily pedaling.
Do your kids love to ride their bikes, but you are tired of circling around your neighborhood park all the time? Grab your own bike, take the kids and visit some of these beautiful paths that have cool views while you get some exercise.
Length: 2.1 miles
Perfect ride if your kids are into trains, trolleys and you love a little bit of NJ history. It follows the route of a former trolley line that was controlled by the Morris County Traction Company, which began its service in July of 1904. This path is also made of asphalt and concrete, and is free of cars and traffic, which makes it perfect for beginning riders. It is a great trail on a sunny day, since the big trees and mountain laurel keep the path extra shady.
Length: 35 miles
Looking for a diverse trip? Patriots’ Path has hiking, equestrian, and biking trails. The path ties together parks, recreational facilities, historic sites, and cool points of interest such as The Ford Mansion, and Pocahontas Lake. While biking the entire trail would be too much for your younger ones, doing a bit at a time is great. Make sure to take time out for a picnic, geocaching, or a visit to the recreational center. The surfaces varies between asphalt, ballast, crushed stone, dirt, grass, and gravel, so riding is suitable for all levels.
Length: 6.33 miles
This great bike path has a 6 mile route, but the full D&R Canal Path can take you over 70 miles. If you choose to stick with the park, you can go fishing, boating, canoeing ($13/person), or kayaking ($10/person) in the canal. The historic towpath runs along the main canal from Bakers Basin Road (Trenton) to New Brunswick, and has a natural dirt and grass surface. It was built in 1830 and was used as a way for barges to haul coal from the mining areas of Pennsylvania to New York City. The path is also free of traffic. If you don’t own bikes, Jay’s Cycles is located nearby, which offers bike rentals daily.
Call Princeton for more kayaking and canoeing info: 609-452-2403; Call Jay’s Cycles for Bike Rentals: 609-924-7233
Length: 5.15 miles
This path covers both the north and south shores of Cooper River Lake, and is nestled in the 346-acre Cooper River Park. There are two different paved loops: one 3.8 miles long, and another 1.8 miles long, so you can pick which challenge is better for your group. The park also has areas to picnic along the trail, so bring some food and snacks for a break from riding.
Cape May County
Length: Up to you!
We’re not suggesting taking the whole family on the entire 46.4-mile long loop, but consider tackling part of it if you’re visiting NJ’s southern-most point. The ride starts at the Cape May Lighthouse and passes some of the area’s iconic Victorian homes. See a map of the route at state.nj.us.
Cape May County
Length: 1 mile
Enjoy a short mile long ride by the dunes with the kids while you are on vacation this summer. This path is one mile long, winds along the beach, then connects to Wildwood boardwalk, for an additional two miles. If you keep following the path, you’ll end up at 2nd Street, you can opt to add another mile to your ride if your family is still up for it. After the original first mile though, you can only ride on the boardwalk before 11 am, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your ride. The path is also a little bit bumpy, as it’s not always paved asphalt.
Length: 2.5 miles
The Trolley Line Trail is a great path for kids who love adventure. While it is on the shorter side, this paved trail used to be the right of way for the Former Fast Line electric trolley. It is safe and out of traffic, and has a ton of scenic views that are great for photo ops. Some of these include the bridge over the Big Bear Brook, and wetlands on the side of the path. Kids can also find markers every half-mile to keep track of how far they've gone. The trail also passes through West Windsor Park, which includes tennis courts, a baseball field, swimming pools, and a skateboard park.
Length: 2.84 miles
Are your kids into haunted houses? Then this trail is perfect for you! Away from traffic and paved, this trail is the former rail bed of the Caldwell Branch on the old Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. It crosses over the Peckham River through a 20-foot trestle, and finally passes an abandoned, shuttered, psychiatric hospital. Essex County Hospital housed patients in the late 19th to early 20th century. It was featured on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, and is now a conservation easement. Might make a perfect "spooky" early fall ride.
Length: 3.5 miles
Only officially opened in September 2012, this trail is relatively new. It is paved and follows the former Lehigh Valley Railroad freight line. It is peaceful amidst the traffic outside of it, and is also part of the East Coast Greenway, a developing trail system that will eventually connect over 2,900 miles from Maine to Florida.
Length: 18 miles
Duke Farms offers 18 miles of different surface bike trails through their natural preserves. There are also so many fun activities to do, like educational programs in which your family can learn about orchids, bird watching and even a café to hit up if you plan to spend the day and don't want to pack a picnic. Don’t own your own bike? Bikeshare Services at Duke Farms has got you covered. For $5, you can rent a bike and helmet for two hours. Unfortunately, riders must be above 60 inches, so the kids will probably have to bring their own bikes. You will also need photo I.D., and a credit card to rent.
Length: 40 miles
With 70,000 acres and a beach on the Delaware river as your view on this 40 mile path, you will certainly want plenty of time to explore and bike the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The park winds through the Appalachian mountains, and includes waterfalls and plenty of outdoor activities such as canoeing, hiking, camping, swimming, and biking. And if 40 miles isn’t enough, there are over 100 miles of other trails to entertain the family as well. Got little kids? Pick a small section to explore each visit.
Length: 5 miles
Sandy Hook has always been a popular beach spot, and even now it attracts over 2 million visitors each year. The Multi-Use Pathway (which is paved and away from motor vehicles), starts at the park entrance and ending in Fort Hancock, (A National Historic Landmark) is a great way to view its famous beaches. After the ride, you can also cool off boating, or hike to the top of the lighthouse for even more spectacular views.
Length: 15 miles
This road is packed with history. This is the spot where George Washington and his troops the river at night in the dead of night on December 25,1756. They landed at Johnson’s Ferry, or present day Washington Crossing State Park. This site is now home to a bunch of wildlife and wildflowers, and is perfect for biking, hiking and camping. Be sure to also check out the Washington Crossing Open Air Theatre, which May through April will have live theater performances for both both adults and children.
Bike Safety Tips
- Always wear a helmet when you ride. Make certain it meets Snell, ANSI, or AST standards and that it fits snugly. Riders age 17 and under must wear a helmet in NJ.
- Wear bright, light-colored clothing or a safety vest so you are visible.
- Always ride single file with at least three bicycle lengths between you and the cyclist in front.
- Use a clip or rubber band to keep long pants from getting tangled in the bike chain.
- Carry your bicycle across railroad tracks.
- Use lights and reflectors when riding at night.
- Test brakes before a descent.
- Always ride with traffic and obey signals. Keep your eyes on the road and have fun! -- Arline Zatz
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