Wednesday, May 14, 2008

East Coast Greenway / D&R Canal

The East Coast Greenway includes the D&R Canal Trail, a 35 mile off-road segment listed as a "green" route, "suitable for touring bicycles" in New Jersey between New Brunswick and Trenton. This route is the former towpath of the Raritan River portion of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, now a state park.

I took my new touring bicycle on a NJ Transit train, they have a "Bikes Aboard" policy, to New Brunswick. rode over to Johnson Park, which has a nice paved 2.5 mile bike path that takes one to the "."East Jersey Olde Towne

After exploring Johnson Park, I circled back to Landing Stage Bridge and entered the towpath. The dirt road you see in the pictures is the way the towpath looks for most of the trip to Griggstown, at which point I left the towpath and went to a local country store / farmstand to get more water etc.
The towpath is interrupted at irregular intervals for spillways, most of which are the original rock slabs. They function to let overflow from the canal spill over into the Raritan River. I stopped at each and walked my bike across.

The very first spillway I encountered after the one at Landing Street Bridge had the bypass onto the banks of the Raritan River as you see in these pictures, left and below.

Bridge Tender's house and booth, D&R canal

While the road was rough, indeed in one spot I was riding through a sea of pebbles, it was quiet and pretty; I hardly saw anyone else for most of the ride other than 2 or 3 cyclists and maybe 6 pedestrians the entire 17-odd miles I rode on the towpath. I'm planning to go back -- with my hybrid equipped with knobby 40mm tires suitable for the dirt riding that is this towpath. I don't know why the Greenway people think this route is "suitable for touring bicycles"; while I was able to ride my touring bike, I was not happy about it and indeed had quite a lot of cleaning to do afterward.
After Griggstown I didn't like the way the weather looked so I rode up the road next to the towpath, which is a nice paved country road, and then over to various other roads as I made my way to Princeton Junction Station and the train home.

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