Autumn is finally upon us, which means an assortment of colorful leaves, brisk Northeastern winds and plenty of seasonal activities. It’s the perfect time to shake the cobwebs off your dusty mountain bike or beach cruiser, pump some air into those tires and hit the open road. Not sure where to bike, though? You’re in luck. The Garden State is overflowing with multi-use pathways, asphalt walkways and crushed-stone rail-trails—you just have to know where to look. If you’re ready to pedal your way through the fall, here are 10 scenic bike trails in New Jersey.
Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway
Trailheads: Manasquan & Wall Township
This historic rail-trail—a railroad that’s been converted into a bike path—begins in the coastal city of Manasquan and travels 5.2 miles inland toward Allaire State Park. As you soar along the smoothly paved Bikeway, bask in the views of suburban New Jersey before transitioning into a lush green sea of farmland. When you arrive in Allaire State Park, there’s a slew of activities waiting at the end of the trail. Tour historical Allaire Village to experience a 19th-century iron-making community. Or, take a ride on the vintage cars of the steam-powered Pine Creek Railroad.
Sandy Hook Multi-Use Pathway
Trailheads: Sandy Hook
Just off the coast in Monmouth is Sandy Hook, a peninsula discovered by Henry Hudson in the 1600s. Here, you’ll discover the Sandy Hook Multi-Use Pathway—8.3 miles of asphalt that is shared by pedestrians and cyclists. With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Sandy Hook Bay to the west, you’ll be surrounded by water as you glide past various scenic landmarks. Soak up the sun at the local bird observatory, a wildlife observation deck or one of the several beaches that are accessible from the trail.
Union Transportation Trail
Trailheads: Cream Ridge & Trenton
Once operated by the Union Transportation Company in the 19th Century, this former railroad is now a burgeoning bike trail in Central Jersey. Layered with crushed stone, follow this rail-trail for 9.3 miles as you coast through rural landscapes, lively wetlands and densely wooded areas. Throughout your journey, you’ll cross several bridges over streams, as well as pass through an underpass beneath I-95. It’s easy to get lost in the fog of nature along this trail, so make sure to keep your eyes on the road.
Trailheads: High Bridge & Washington Township
Named after a natural gas pipeline that runs beneath the pathway, Columbia Trail is 15 miles of crushed stone that passes through historical communities, as well as as a natural gorge. Lined with evergreen trees, the trail escorts riders through heavily wooded regions that are home to whitetail deer, raccoons and coyotes, as well as the occasional black bear…gulp. Along the way, the route intersects with Patriot’s Path bike trail, so make sure to stick to the correct path. And, most importantly, savor this North Jersey adventure and all its natural beauty.
Hudson River Waterfront Walkway
Trailheads: Hoboken, Weehawken & Many Others
The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway is 18.5 miles of concrete pathway that extends from Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge. Although the name infers that it’s dedicated to pedestrians, this trail is also a popular spot for casual bikers. Hop on the Walkway at any point and experience the majestic Manhattan Skyline along the Hudson River. Not to mention, along the way there’s plenty of fun to be had and sights to be seen in Hudson County, making it one of the best bike trails in New Jersey.
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail
Trailheads: Frenchtown, New Brunswick & Many Others
This massive rail-trail spans more than 70 miles across New Jersey. Shaped like a “V,” the trail begins in Frenchtown and travels southeast along the Delaware River to Trenton. Here, it redirects and heads northeast toward New Brunswick. In light of its incredible length, the trail is accessible from several locations along the way, which can be found on the trail map. For the optimal scenic experience, I’d suggest biking from Frenchtown to Bull’s Head Island Recreation Area (about 9 miles). As you glide parallel with the Delaware River, feel free to stop at one of the many breathtaking bridges along the way. Or, pop over to Pennsylvania for a quick lunch break at a waterside café.
Sussex Branch Trail
Trailheads: Branchville & Byram
Accessible from Kittatinny State Park, as well as Allamuchy Mountain State Park, this 20-mile route takes bikers through swamps, lakes and several small communities in Sussex and Warren Counties. Over the course of your ride, witness historical features from the trail’s tenure as a railroad. This includes graded fill areas, bedrock, underpasses and bridges crossing the Pequest or Paulinskill Rivers. Finally, experience the beauty of Cranberry Lake as you fly along its eastern shore.
Henry Hudson Trail
Trailheads: Freehold & Atlantic Highlands
Lined with 22.5 miles of trees, the Henry Hudson Trail traverses both urban and natural landscapes, including swamps and forestry. The trail is divided into a north and south section by the Garden State Parkway, however, they’re connected by an on-road route. If you’re feeling strong, bike all 22.5 miles of the trail. Or, settle for one of the shorter routes, such as the Monmouth Heritage Trail or the Bayshore Trail. Either way, prepare for an intimate tour through the many landscapes of Monmouth County.
Paulinskill Valley Trail
Trailheads: Sparta & Knowlton
With trailheads in Sparta and Knowlton, this expansive rail-trail offers a glimpse into historic North Jersey. Once part of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad, embark on 27 miles of scenic pleasure as you pass through rural landscapes and dense forestry in Kittatinny State Park. Equipped with six bridge crossings and passage under the majestic Hainesburg Viaduct, the Paulinskill Valley Trail is one of the best bike trails in New Jersey.
The Cape May Shoreline Ride
Trailhead: Cape May
This beautiful oceanside route begins and ends at the parking lot of the Cape May Lighthouse. Over the course of a 46-mile loop, experience every aspect of the Jersey Shore. The hustle and bustle of Wildwood, the placid waters of the Wetlands Institute, and of course, the beach. With several opportunities to stop and breathe in the fresh South Jersey air, The Cape May Shoreline Ride is one of the most serene bike trails in New Jersey.