Trenton, New Jersey: The Mid-Atlantic's Bicycle Touring Hub

March 9, 2017 - Lukas Herbert kindly submitted today's guest blog.

Gotham Bicycle Tours celebrated Adventure Cycling’s 2016 Bike Travel Weekend in Trenton and looks forward to this year’s event on June 2–4, 2017.

Trenton, New Jersey is known for many things ... good things and some, well ...

But Trenton has something that no other Mid-Atlantic city has: an abundance of bike paths and excellent, bike-friendly train service from two major metropolitan areas, Philadelphia and New York City. This easily makes Trenton my top launch point for bike tours that can take you to great places in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, and potentially as far away as Delaware or New York State. 

The first great thing about Trenton for bike touring is how easy it is to get there with your bike. Trenton is the only city in the Northeast where two major transit systems meet: the New Jersey Transit’s Northeast Corridor line and the Trenton Line Regional Rail. This means that no less than once every hour, a train arrives and departs Trenton for both New York City and Philadelphia, connecting Trenton to two vast systems of trains. Bikes are permitted on both systems. In addition, the River Line light rail also connects Trenton with towns in South Jersey along the Delaware River, expanding your choices even more. This means that you can easily do a day ride, overnight, or multi-day bike tour that starts or ends in Trenton and uses the train to get you home, or back to your start point. 

The Trenton Transit Center is a hub for New Jersey Transit and SEPTA trains, both of which allow bikes on board for free. 

The transit connections alone are enough to make Trenton a sensible place to start a ride. But when you throw in the substantial number of bike paths that go through or near Trenton, you can really come up with a wide range of rides, suitable for all levels of riders. For example, the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail centers on Trenton. You can ride the Main Canal for 34 miles northeast between Trenton and New Brunswick. Or you can ride 30 miles north along the Feeder Canal to Frenchtown. If you cross the Delaware River, the Delaware Canal Towpath goes along the Pennsylvania side of the river, part of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, a trail that can take you as far as Wilkes-Barre, PA. And someday soon, the East Coast Greenway will slice right through Trenton on its way from Maine to Florida! 

An off-road trail network goes right through Trenton.

If road riding is your thing, it’s not very difficult to get from Trenton to low-traffic roads that will have you riding towards the Pine Barrens where you can cruise along on relatively flat, scenic roads ... most of which have bike lanes.

You can even ride to a growing number of wineries that are becoming a fixture of New Jersey’s landscape. (You didn’t know New Jersey was a wine growing state? You do now!) You can ride all the way out to the Jersey shore, and if you make it to Cape May, you can even take a ferry to Delaware for more great riding. 

You’ll find many other options, like these examples, for loops and point-to-point routes ...

  • Ride north along the Feeder Canal trail on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, then cross over to the Pennsylvania side and ride back.
  • Camp or stay in a hotel halfway to make a weekend of it!
  • Or head south for a couple of days of riding and hook up with the NJ Transit Atlantic City Line or the River Line to get back.
  • All NJ Transit buses in South Jersey are also equipped with bike racks, so the ride combinations are almost limitless. Just use your imagination ... then research your route. 
Trenton is situated along the Delaware River which has bike paths on both sides.

But Trenton isn’t just a great gateway city for bike touring, it’s also a fun place to ride. If you like riding past historical sites on low-traffic roads, you can’t beat riding around Trenton on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The roads are completely quiet (thanks to State government being closed) and the City has done a great job of striping bike lanes in some parts of the city.

Trenton even has a great bike tour every year: the Tour de Trenton. We used this great tour as the starting point for our Bike Travel weekend ride in 2016. (Register your own Bike Travel Weekend ride for June 2—4, 2017.) After the Tour de Trenton, we rode to Cream Ridge Winery where we camped for the night as part of one of the tours we do with our bike touring company: Gotham Bicycle Tours

So if you’re looking for great cycling destination in the Northeast, Trenton should be on your short list. It’s the center of bicycle touring for cyclists who are “in the know.” And now that you’ve read this to the end, consider yourself part of our elite group! 

A great esplanade was built above a waterfront highway. Paving stones and archways present a timeline of the city’s history that you can read while you ride! 

Photos courtesy of Lukas Herbert

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Comments

Jim Willis

Lukas

Thanks for the great info here! I've been focusing on this area as I plan some bike camping with my son for the spring but with Bull's Island campground closed we are having a tough time identifying any camping near any of these trails you write about. Any suggestions for campgrounds that are accessible from the D&R or canal towpath on the PA side? Thanks for the great post!

March 20, 2017, 7:22 AM
Reply
Mike B.

Jim, there's a campground located on the Pennsylvania side called Tohickon Valley Park, just north of Point Pleasant,PA. The campground is about a mile and a half from the towpath. Website is http://www.buckscounty.org/government/ParksandRecreation/Parks/Tohickon

March 25, 2017, 6:16 AM
Reply
Kevin Lawton

Great article! Been starting to explore the trails around Trenton myself. Here is an article I did about the ones in nearby Bordentown. http://blog.coldwellbanker.com/biking-bordentown-nj-a-guide-to-the-towns-bike-scene/

March 31, 2017, 8:48 PM
Reply
Robert Blanda

First, let's start with the Greenway trail passing through Trenton. It's never going to happen in our lifetime. You'll be on the streets in the hood for 2.1 miles until MILLIONS are dumped into a dedicated trail (which, lets' face it - isn't going to happen). Second, the Riverline allows roll-on service, but the other trains do not. Third, I sit on the committee for the Parks and Rec for Florence, Board Member of the Roebling Museum and also an avid cyclist. I work in Princeton and it's no joy getting here. This is a feel-good article, and we all hope it happens one day, but the Maine to Florida "TRAIL" will not be complete until about 2034. There's no money in Trenton, Mercer is only giving a little and federal grants aren't going to be happening anytime soon. So, tell your grandkids about it, for some day they may be able to ride it one day. For now, strap on a helmet, carry bear spray and hope for the best coming through this area.

April 5, 2017, 5:13 AM
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