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Top 10 Bike Trails in New Jersey

Map and Key of New Jersey and Top 10 Places to Bike in New Jersey

Bike rides are a fun and exciting way to stay in shape, have fun, and explore new places. Like many other states in America, New Jersey has no shortage of great trails to explore by bike. If you’re heading to the Garden State, here are some of the best routes we recommend biking while you’re there!

1. Columbia Trail – High Bridge to Mount Olive, NJ

The Columbia Trail passing through the rocky Ken Lockwood Gorge in Lebanon Township, New Jersey.

The Columbia Trail is arguably one of the best trails in New Jersey. Situated in a rural northern part of the state, this 16.5-mile trail is one that you’ll want to bike over and over again due to its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and serene vibe.

This flat, crushed stone trail winds through a thick forest canopy, which offers a much-needed reprieve from the sun during the summer months. As you bike the Columbia Trail, you’re likely to spot deer, coyotes, and even a black bear or two, if you get lucky! You’ll also pass the falls at the Lake Solitude dam and Ken Lockwood Gorge Wildlife Management Area as the trail begins following the South Branch, one of the state’s best fly fishing spots. There are also several communities to explore along the route, including the Victorian-style town of Califon and Long Valley.

For driving directions to the Columbia Trail’s trailheads, visit the Morris County Park Commission’s website

Tips: Although this trail is relatively short, you will still have to walk your bike all the way back to your car if it gets damaged and requires repair. Just make sure to carry a bike repair kit with you and bring plenty of water for the ride.

2. Paulinskill Valley Trail – Knowlton Township to Sparta Junction, NJ

Path on Paulinskill Valley Trail - Knowlton Township to Sparta Junction, NJ

The Paulinskill Valley Trail is a 27-mile-long multi-use trail that runs from Knowlton Township to Sparta Junction. Most of the path follows the banks of the Paulinskill River and passes through a beautiful section of rural New Jersey.

During the Colonial period, German refugees settled in this area of New Jersey. Today, many communities along the trail still have a strong German influence. While you ride, you’re bound to see plenty of native wildlife in the forest, including bobcats, birds, deer, and even bears. However, the highlight of this ride is seeing the Paulinskill Viaduct, also known as the Hainesburg Trestle. (You’ll arrive there about a mile into your ride.) It’s an abandoned concrete railroad bridge that towers 115 feet tall and stretches 1,100 feet across, supported by seven massive arches. It’s quite a sight to see!

You can access the Paulinskill Valley Trail from the western trailhead on Brugler Road in Knowlton Township or the eastern trailhead on Warbasse Junction Road, near Lafayette. It also intersects with the Great Valley Trail at Plott Road (north of Newton), and the Sussex Branch Trail, just past Warbasse Junction Road.

Tips: This trail is primarily cinder, so it’s best to ride a bike with wide tires here. The first few miles from the trailheads on either end feature a variety of trail surfaces, including dirt and grass. Horses also frequent this trail, so you’ll want to watch for them.

3. Saddle River County Park Bike Path – Ridgewood to Rochelle Park, NJ

The Saddle River County Park Bike Path is a popular suburban trail that’s great for families who want a gentle bike and short bike ride. This scenic 6-mile trail follows the banks of the Saddle River and offers a peaceful and traffic-free cycling experience through the heart of Bergen County.

This trail links five different sections of Saddle River County Park, a 577-acre linear park. In its entirety, it runs through the communities of Ridgewood, Glen Rock, Fair Lawn, Paramus, Saddle Brook, and Rochelle Park and goes under Route 4. If you bike the entire trail, you’ll pass the Historic Easton Tower at Route 4, which was built in 1900 and used to pump water for the private estate of Edward Easton. Cyclists along this route also enjoy the scenic waterfall at Dunkerhook Park and several other amenities and recreational areas along the way, including playgrounds, three ponds, pavilions, and picnic areas.

To access the Saddle River County Park Bike Path, you can park at the northern trailhead at the Wild Duck Pond Area (1133 E. Ridgewood Ave., Ridgewood), at the opposite end of the trail in Rochelle Park, or at multiple other locations along the 6-mile route.

Tips: This bike bath gets very busy on the weekends! Whether you’re taking the kids out for a bike ride here or heading out on your own, you’ll probably have a more relaxing ride if you go during the week.

4. The Pine Barrens – Pinelands National Reserve

View of the damn at The Pine Barrens - Pinelands National Reserve

The Pine Barrens is also known as the Pinelands and is a massive area of open land that covers 1.1 million acres, featuring gorgeous wildlife and several forgotten ghost towns scattered throughout. Visitors to this area can explore the landscape via bike, boat, on horseback, or practically any other way as they take in the sights and sounds of its natural beauty.

The Pine Barrens is an excellent place to bike in New Jersey, with miles of flat blacktop and trails. Whether you’re looking for a long-distance biking spot, leisure riding, or a more adventurous ride through the forest, this place has it all. Some of the more popular cycling routes at the Pine Barrens are:

  • Batsto to Lower Bank (21.3 miles, paved surface)
  • Bass River – North Loop (12.8 miles, paved and sand surface)
  • Chatsworth to Pakim Pond (14.5 miles, paved surface)

For more details on these routes, visit the Pinelands Preservation Alliance website. The Pinelands Commission also offers detailed directions to the reserve from various parts of the state.

Tips: This is a massive area to explore! Before heading out for a ride, make sure you do thorough research on the area to determine where you want to ride and what you’ll need to bring along with you.

5. Sandy Hook Multi-Use Pathway – Monmouth County, NJ

The Sandy Hook Multi-Use Pathway is a popular trail for bikers and walkers. It stretches 8.7 miles along the beautiful beaches and natural areas of the Sandy Hook peninsula and past several fascinating historical landmarks. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Sandy Hook Bay, biking this trail is a great way to soak up the sun and the sights!

This bike ride starts in the Gateway National Recreation Area and loops around Fort Hancock. As you ride past dunes and through pockets of trees lining the trail, you’ll pass several interesting features, including a sandy outdoor gym area with exercise equipment, the Sandy Hook Chapel, and History House, an old lieutenant’s quarters built-in 1898. You’ll also catch some views of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the county. The trail continues winding past the shoreline of Sandy Hook Bay, offering gorgeous views of the water and beach access.

The address for the park entrance is 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732. The trailhead is east of the intersection of Atlantic Drive and Ford Road. You can park in Lot G. 

Tips: This trail has minimal shade, so pack a hat to protect your head and face from the sun during the hot summer months. If you get hungry after your ride, food trucks often park at the trailhead throughout the summer months. Enjoy!

6. Mountain Creek Bike Park – Vernon, NJ

Mountain Bike Path at Mountain Creek Bike Park - Vernon, NJ

Mountain Creek Bike Park is one of the most highly rated mountain biking areas in New Jersey. Although it’s famous for its expert trails filled with chunky rock gardens and steep chutes, more recent additions of beginner and intermediate courses make it the perfect spot for mountain bikers of all experience levels. 

With a network of 52 trails and 1,040 feet of elevation to ride (serviced by a high-speed open-air gondola), Mountain Creek Bike Park has tons of variety, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try new things and push yourself. Whether you’re after fun rolling flow zones, rocky technical rides, or all the jumps and features you can handle, Mountain Creek Bike Park has it all. After your ride, you can also relax and grab drinks and food at the nearby Biergarten.

To get to Mountain Creek Bike Park, head to 200 Route 94, Vernon, NJ 07462. Tickets are $54.99 for adults ages 19 and up and $39.99 for kids ages 18 and under.

Tips: There’s a full-service bike shop on-site at Mountain Creek Bike Park, and they provide demos and bike services if you need them. 

7. Henry Hudson Trail – Highlands to Freehold, NJ

Henry Hudson Bridge on the Henry Hudson Trail

The Henry Hudson Trail offers a 22.5-mile bike ride that’s scenic in the best ways possible! This relatively flat and paved trail winds through both urban and rural landscapes, so you’ll get a grand tour of Monmouth County, featuring beautiful grassy meadows, wetlands bursting with wildlife, suburban communities, and much more.

This trail has a northern and southern portion, divided by the Garden State Parkway toll road. However, an on-road route connects the two parts if you choose to ride the entire 22.5 miles. Along the way, you can expect to ride through lush forest-lined segments of the trail, take in the scenic meadows of Big Brook Park, and enjoy clear views of Sandy Hook Bay.

For more information on where to park, check out this detailed map from the Monmouth County Park System.

Tips: The only restrooms along the Henry Hudson Trail are at the Henry Hudson Trail Activity Center on Route 36 and Popamora Point. They’re open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

8. Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail – Hunterdon, Mercer, and Somerset Counties

The Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail is the longest multi-use trail in New Jersey. Offering a whopping 72 miles of riding, this biking route is considered by many to be one of the best in the state, and it features some fantastic natural scenery, historic landmarks, and trailside eateries.

Most of this trail follows the Delaware & Raritan Canal, but another portion of it tracks the former Belvidere Delaware Railroad route. It’s a part of the 800-mile Circuit Trails network and the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway and features Trenton (the state capitol) at its center. In addition, it traverses through several different communities, including Stockton, Lambertville, Titusville, Ewing Township, Lawrence, Kingston, Franklin Township, and New Brunswick. As you ride, you’ll pass beautiful bridges, rail depots, serene river views, occasional wildlife sightings, and quaint trailside cafes where you can stop for a bite to eat.

Depending on the portion of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail you want to ride, you’ll need to locate the most convenient parking area. The Canal State Park website offers detailed maps and directions here.

Tips: Overall, this trail is well-maintained, but sections of it may be prone to washouts after heavy rain or inclement weather. Be prepared for the possibility of very muddy or impassable portions.

9. Cape May Shoreline Ride – Cape May Point, NJ

Lighthouse and sunset on Cape May Shoreline Ride.

Cape May is a popular summer beach resort destination on the southern tip of New Jersey, but it’s also a charming place to enjoy a leisurely bike ride. In fact, biking is one of the best ways to tour Cape May! There are several different biking routes in Cape May, but the Cape May Shoreline Ride is one of the more popular ones. 

This route starts at the parking lot of the Cape May lighthouse and leads you around a large loop back to the same point, totaling 46.4 miles. Along the way, you’ll get a great view of the town as well as its shoreline and dunes. You’ll also pass several attractions, including the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge & Observatory, the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse & Garden, the Cape May Nature Center, and more.

This route starts at the parking lot of Cape May Point State Park, and you can ride to the entrance of the park from there. The State of New Jersey has also provided a detailed map of the route

Tips: If you want to see more of the state park and its wildlife after your ride, try walking one of the three trails in the park: the Duck Pond Trail, the Monarch Trail, or the Plover Trail. During the fall bird migration, you’ll enjoy some incredible bird watching here!

10. Ringwood Skylands Manor – Ringwood, NJ

Garden view atRingwood Skylands Manor

Ringwood Manor State Park is home to an expansive network of trails that stretch north to New York and south to Skyline Drive. If you’re looking for advanced mountain biking trails near Ringwood, New Jersey, you have to try this area out. It’s chock full of challenging singletrack trails with an elevation of around 300 feet.

The Skylands section of the park offers several multi-use trails for visitors to enjoy. Veteran mountain bikers recommend having plenty of experience and grit before taking on the Ringwood Skylands Manor trails. They’re all rated moderate to difficult and have many rock features and challenging technical sections, which is likely to be difficult for most riders. While you’re in the area, you may also want to check out some nearby attractions, including the State Botanical Garden and the stunning Ringwood Manor, which a succession of well-known ironmasters called home for almost 200 years.

Ringwood Manor State Park is at 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456.

Tips: The trails at Ringwood Skylands Manor are not well-marked. If you’ve never been to Ringwood Skylands Manor before, we recommend going with a buddy who is already familiar with the area or picking up a map at the park office.

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References:

  1. https://www.traillink.com/trail/columbia-trail/ 
  2. https://www.traillink.com/trail/paulinskill-valley-trail/ 
  3. https://www.bergenresourcenet.org/search/saddle-river-county-park/
  4. https://www.nynjtc.org/hike/saddle-river-pathway#dialog-hike-description
  5. https://www.traillink.com/trail/saddle-river-county-park-bike-path/ 
  6. https://visitnj.org/city/pine-barrens
  7. https://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/sandy-hook.htm
  8. https://www.traillink.com/trail/sandy-hook-multi-use-pathway/ 
  9. https://mtbparks.com/New-Jersey/243-Mountain-Creek-Bike-Park/View-details.html
  10. https://www.mountaincreek.com/bike-park
  11. https://www.traillink.com/trail/henry-hudson-trail-/
  12. https://www.traillink.com/trail/delaware-and-raritan-canal-state-park-trail/
  13. https://www.new-jersey-leisure-guide.com/cape-may.html
  14. https://curiouscapemay.com/cape-may-biking-trails/ 
  15. https://stateparks.com/ringwood_manor_state_park_in_new_jersey.html
  16. https://www.nynjtc.org/park/ringwood-state-park-4 

Photo Sources:

Zeete, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Adam Moss, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
NHRHS2010, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons
New Jersey Pinelands Commission, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Monika M. Wahi, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
D.Thom, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Christopher Muflam, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Virginia State Parks, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
King of Hearts, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Mwanner at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

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