The Gloucester Township Health and Fitness Trail, formerly known as the Blackwood Railroad Trail, is a paved bicycle/pedestrian path in Blackwood, Gloucester Township. Not only did the park boast singletrack nearest to New York City, it was some of the most varied trail for at least fifty miles around, with an emphasis on the gnarly, the technical and the off-camber. If the argument is that bikes endanger the trails, it's because the soil over the rocks is thin in many places due to erosion. Click on a bike trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews. Essex is one of the smallest counties in New Jersey, but it is distinct for counting among its municipalities Newark, East Orange and Irvington - some of the poorest, roughest urban areas on the east coast - in addition to Short Hills, Essex Fells and North Caldwell - some of the richest towns in New Jersey, with median incomes well over $100,000. Riders can begin their journey at US 9/Sandman Boulevard in Lower Township across... Itâs hard to believe that a noisy locomotive once ran through here, given that stillness is a defining characteristic of the Middlesex Greenway. Took my bike for 30 miles on this trail. Today, Lewis Morris Park, which borders Jockey Hollow National Historic Park, contains some of the most well maintained mountain biking trails in any New Jersey county park. GBH The best & most popular mountain biking trails in Essex County. Prepare to be whisked into the past when you take the Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway. Like almost all of Essex County's parks, South Mountain was designed by the Olmsted family. Wining & Dining. Enjoy. Today, ten years after the ban went into effect, signs at the trailheads read: "Mountain Bicycles and Motor Bikes are forbidden on woodland trails because of soil erosion" - one has been helpfully emended here with the word "bullshit" - "Violators are subject to a $100 fine and vehicles are subject to confiscation.". Essential to note is that even within South Mountain, there is quite varied terrain, meaning that it's useless to generalize about bikes' effects. Maintenance became synonymous with cosmetic upkeep, such as mowing lawns and clearing trash from picnic areas. Furthermore, in the week before the Freeholders voted on the ban, one member of the nine-person board was indicted, while others began a routine of prayer breakfasts before each day's administrative activities. Before this plan even went into effect, it was overturned in a Freeholder meeting mobbed by over 300 angry citizens, more than had ever attended such a meeting. The patriarch, Frederick, who designed Newark's Branch Brook Park, in addition to Brooklyn's Prospect Park and Manhattan's Central Park, thought the terrain that would become South Mountain Reservation was beautiful and promising as a public space. Mostly shaded area. While youâre there, donât forget to check out the Fairy Trail NJ, where the tiny fairy houses will enchant your littles along the trail and in the trees. When one activist biker, who owns a bike shop mere yards from the Switchback, the longest and toughest singletrack climb in the reservation, spoke at a Freeholder meeting while wearing his helmet, he was intending to counter the preconceived notion that bikers were reckless. Ironic, considering that one cliff in South Mountain, near which sits its most well-known overlook, was rather obviously mined into existence. Perhaps most dangerously, the department ceased programs for removal of non-native, invasive plant species and diseased trees. The trail can be accessed at three points. I noted the seasonal and even diurnal changes in the woods. The historical Ben Franklin Bridge, opened in 1926, offers expansive city skyline views and is itself a stunning structure. Unlike those who wanted to ban mountain bikers so they could have the public land all to themselves, I am happy that South Mountain is forever changing and that the passage of time will bring with it new opportunities rather than the comfort of repetitive experiences. In the end, it's not the loss of the trails that is the most irksome. Brookdale Park is â¦ Until the rediscovery of this ban, South Mountain Reservation had been the premier dirt destination in northern New Jersey. Even though the county's official website extols the park system's virtues, the reality is that the parks have less budgetary priority than urban social services and policing, not to mention the infrastructure necessary to keep Newark Airport and Port Newark humming with commerce (and tax revenue rolling in). It called for $125 million for the trust fund to rehabilitate the aging, decrepit park system. TrailLink is a free service provided by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (a non-profit) and we need your support! Even when some acknowledged that only one or two percent fit that description, they were able to hint that this percentage was on the rise. Linking the communities of Palmyra, New Jersey and Tacony (a historic neighborhood within Philadelphia) is the over 3,600-foot-long Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. It's notable that the issue to address is actually on-trail use of bicycles, which is banned, not off-trail use, about which the trailhead signs have nothing to say. Check or FAQs for more common login questions. See all Essex County trails. Flat and beautiful ride. Instead, articles quoted hikers who called bikers "kamikaze people." No one mentioned that the county might have a responsibility for clearing such detritus from the trails, even if that's not what mountain bikers would desire. With Unlimited, get added access and customize your trips more easily! Today, when I return to the trails as a hiker, my ears tingle with remembrance of the laughter, the terrified shrieks, or the perfect silence that accompanied our community of riders. The trail was very busy but everyone was very courteous and obeyed the rules of the trail. Furthermore, although the Open Space Advisory Committee's report argued that South Mountain should not be "gardenized," it seemed that the hikers did not consider the terrain to be dynamic. Treffinger had inherited a county on the verge of bankruptcy after his predecessor was sent to prison on charges of corruption. Rode Matawan the Highlands this past Saturday. Watch this space for new dates for upcoming public events on Badges Without Borders. Never was biking considered a solitary experience through which one communes with nature, explores, exercises or relaxes. (And you thought the electoral college was silly.) I saw the best riders of my generation destroyed by madness: college, jobs and trail closures. Sandwich Street Reconstruction â â¦ Just updating the info for this trail, it is now open end to end. In a New York Times article, one hiker said of the bikers, "Better they go to quarries, with their rocky bases." In 1998, three years after the reaffirmation of the mountain biking ban, the county started a trust fund for the parks as well as an Open Space Advisory Committee. Login to your account. The quality of the trail conditions, layout and maintenance is a testament to the efficacy of a compromise between responsible bikers and caring hikers enabled by a fair governmental policy. The crushed-stone trail rolls along the South Branch of... Camden's Cooper River Park is found on both the north and south shores of Cooper River Lake. In the decade of Essex's ban, Morris County officials and volunteers have built new trails and even selectively closed some others that were poorly designed and erosion-prone. Today, so few people dare ride in South Mountain that generating the momentum to overturn the ban seems far more difficult than stealing past the trails-closed signs. These trails range from 0.1 to 3.9 miles in length. It connects Port Norris with Bivalve. Eco Tours, Train Rides, Whale Watching, etc. The original purpose of the railroad was to allow local farms and dairies... United States Avenue Trail, which is also know locally as the "Green Trail" travels through a primarily wooded landscape between Foster Avenue and Egg Harbor Road in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. ... As the largest park in the Essex County Park System, the Reservation is a unique 2,110-acre public land. Patriotsâ Path. The Columbia Trail has the distinction of being named for a natural gas pipeline that runs beneath it for 15 miles in rural northern New Jersey. Star-Ledger reporter David Schwab wrote, "Some bikers have transformed tree trunks that have fallen across trails into jumps by piling large branches beside them to form takeoff ramps." I didn't stop riding for a moment, but fears of a cop confiscating my bike changed the tenor of the experience. The reasoning for this shift is somewhat opaque, but surely budgetary concerns were at the fore. Years ago, probably around the time of the ban, I stumbled onto a low, smoldering forest fire on the yellow trail above Stonehenge. Click on a bike trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews. One IMBA official who visited South Mountain in 1995 told locals that the trails themselves were built in the wrong places and poorly at that. I grew up in South Mountain Reservation, on my mountain bike, always fleet yet always in awe of its challenges. Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway, Monmouth County. Iâd much prefer the paralleled D&R trail for biking. The Trolley Line Trail is a 2.5 mile paved pathway between Rabbit Hill Road and Penn Lyle Road in West Windsor. The Kinkora Rail Trail will one day span 13 miles between Mansfield and Springfield Township. On this 5.2-mile trail, youâll pass by everything â¦ **Hilltop Reservation will be closed to the public for the Essex County Deer Management Program on January 16th, 23rd, 30th and February 6th, 13th and 20th. The Calhoun Street Bridge spans 1,274 feet across the Delaware River, connecting Trenton, New Jersey, on its east bank with Morrisville, Pennsylvania, on its west bank. This bike-ped path in Roselle Park, Union County. This rhetoric became a trope in similar fights across the country. The short Stockton Station Rail-Trail runs through a city park in Camden between Westfield Avenue and Pleasant Street. In fact, Essex's was the first county park commission in the United States, organized in 1895 to safeguard open space in the midst of growth and a booming local economy. Eco Tours, Train Rides, Whale Watching, etc. And yet the bike ban remains in effect. South Mountain Reservation â Hemlock Falls. In South Mountain, for example, the effects of bikes during a drought are completely different from those during a rainstorm. The second phase will connect Hillside Park to Kittatinny Valley State Park. Like most of the Freeholders, he wanted an expedient solution that would appease the most voters. In some cases, this portrayal was accurate, but no one seemed to care, for example, that one of the leaders of the hikers' cause was a Manhattan resident. Winery / Restaurants / Food Trucks The bike path is nestled at the bottom of the railroad embankment carrying New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line. The Manasquan Reservoir Trail is located in the Howell Township and provides a great natural destination in the heart of the town. This colorful panorama is the political background of the mountain biking ban. The trails, already neglected by the Parks Department, fell into greater disrepair. There were, however, some parts of the 2,047-acre park which resemble west coast riding - patches of conifer forest, with widely spaced trees and rolling trails cut between them on a bed of pine needles. It showed me that the Reservation was dynamic, that I could not take for granted that the next time my tires hit the dirt it would be unchanged, that it would be the same old trails I knew so well. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference builds, maintains, and protects hiking trails in the NY-NJ Metro region and educates the public about their responsible use. A lot of deer and chipmunks. Due to neglect, even the deeply rutted and rocky fire roads required the finesse for which east coast riders are known. From the bikers' perspective, these tactics indicated that the arguments about damage to the trails and bikers' recklessness were a smokescreen. With ruts, loose stones, exposed roots and fallen trees, the trails are in far worse shape than they were in 1995, when mountain bikes were supposedly rapidly ruining the trails. The most popular trails are Harold Parker Road, Yellow Diamond Trail and Common Road. Like all other New Jersey counties, Essex is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders. Johns Hopkins University faculty pageacademia.eduGoogle ScholarACLS FellowsTwitterMy online music magazine. 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