The early sunsets and chilly nights tell us it’s only a matter of days before the leaves are fully decked with their coats of yellow, orange and red. Though not a famous leaf peeping destination in the manner of New England and the Adirondacks, New Jersey has its share of scenic locations where the autumn leaves create a beautiful backdrop.
In a previous article I discussed some outstanding hikes where New Jersey residents can take in the fall colors without driving hours. In this article I discuss some gorgeous rides that cyclists (and in some cases even motorists) can enjoy.
Old Mine Road (Sussex County). Dating back to colonial times, Old Mine Road is one of New Jersey’s oldest roads . Before that it was a major travel route for local Indians. Today Old Mine Road takes you through one of the most remote sections of New Jersey, were you might not pass a home or business for miles. The route takes riders along the Delaware River, through picturesque farmland and much of it is within the confines of the DelawareWater Gap National Recreation Area. This ride starts at the Delaware Water Gap NRA visitors center just off Route 80. Take River Rd north out of the visitors center and under Route 80. Riders have a choice of leaving a vehicle in Port Jervis and riding end to end, or looping back to the start using Flatbrook Walpack Road. For those who are ending their trip in Port Jervis the route is fairly easy, simply follow Old Mine Rd all of the way. Just after the junction with Route 206 it is also known as River Rd and CR 521. It is just under 45 miles from the visitors center to Port Jervis.
For those who are looping back to the beginning, follow Old Mine Rd north for about 24 miles to Kuhn Rd and turn right onto it where you will pass Peters Valley Craft Center which makes for a nice stop. At Peters Valley make a right onto Walpack Flatbrook Road which is also known as NPS 615. You’ll stay on this road. It soon passes through the largely abandoned town of Walpack which, as with most of this area, was purchased by the federal government while clearing it for the now defunct Tocks Island Dam project. This dam would have inundated this entire area which is why it was opposed by environmentalists and many local residents and politicians. Stay on Walpack Flatbrook Road for about 10 miles until it joins Old Mine Road again and retrace your route back to your vehicle. Note that there are several sections of this route that are closed to motor vehicles due to damage from Hurrican Irene.
Clinton Road. (Passaic County) Clinton Road has been infamous with area youth for generations, with stories of phantoms, hell hounds and mafia and KKK activity. These stories have titillated teens and drawn them to make late night treks Clinton Road to brave the ghosts. But stories are all they are and in reality Clinton Road is nothing more than a scenic road that winds past scenic Clinton Reservoir, over a waterfall and through beautiful countryside. Starting at its junction with Route 23 it’s only a 10 mile ride to its end at Warwick Turnpike. Cyclists can either double back to their vehicles, or turn right on Warwick Turnpike, make another right on White Rd and take that to Union Valley Road which they can follow south back to Route 23 coming out about a mile south of Clinton Rd. Note that a bridge is out on Clinton Road and the road is closed to motor vehicles at that point.
Delaware Raritan Canal State Park. (Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties) The Delaware Raratain Canal dates to its opening in 1834. Unlike many other canals in the region such as the Morris Canal, it remained largely intact once it was decommissioned. In 1974 much of the canal became a linear state park that is popular with paddlers, bikers, joggers and walkers. The canal is really two canals, the 29 mile long feeder canal that runs from Frenchtown to Trenton and the 33 mile long main canal that stretches from Trenton to New Brunswick. The route is generally flat and follows the original towpath. Cyclists can use the map found on the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry website to plan their own route on this pretty route. Feeder Canal loops can include portions of the actual towpath and River Road, while riders on the Main Canal can use the towpath as well as portions of River Road and Canal Road.
Kinnelon Road/Powerville Rd/Splitrock Rd. (Morris County) Thanks to damage from Hurricane Irene, this is a particularly nice ride for cyclists as damage to a bridge has cut vehicular traffic considerably. This route brings cyclists through lovely countryside and past an alpaca farm and a horse farm. Part of the route follows a dirt road so it might be a better ride for users of cross bikes. Starting at Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon, make a right onto Kinnelon Road and follow it south to the alpaca farm at what is known as Four Corners. This is a scenic area that is reminiscent of much more remote areas. Turn Right onto Powerville Road and follow it to Split Rock Road and make a right onto it. After a few miles Split Rock Road becomes a well maintained dirt road. Stop for lunch at beautiful Split Rock Reservoir, which is a popular destination for canoeists and kayakers. From here you can either retrace your route back to your vehicle, or you can continue Upper Hibernia Rd, turn right on Green Pond Road and follow that north to Route 23. After a short stretch on Route 23 you are back to Kinnelon Road which you can follow to Silas Condict Park and your vehicle.
Greenwood Lake circumnavigation (Passaic County) One of the scenic fall hikes I listed in my previous article was on Bearfort Mountain, overlooking Greenwood Lake. This ride takes you around this beautiful lake and through the quaint village of Greenwood Lake, NY . This ride is about 17 miles and involves several hills. Starting at Browns Point park in West Milford, take Lakeshore Drive (CR-511) north. It becomes Jersey Avenue after crossing the New York state border. Once in the village of Greenwood Lake Jersey Avenue turns into Church Street. Continue east the make a left on Court Street, a right on Waterstone Rd then continue on Sterling Rd. Sterling Rd soon turns into Edgemere Ave and after crossing the New Jersey border it becomes East Shore Rd. Stay on East Shore Road until it reaches Greenwood Lake Turnpike. Make a right onto Greenwood Lake Turnpike (or for a fascinating side trip Long Pond Ironworks is half a mile east from this junction on Greenwood Lake Turnpike). Continue on Greenwood Lake Turnpike (now CR-511 again) and return to Browns Point park.
This is just a brief list. New Jersey is filled with great places to view autumn’s splendor on your bicycle. So pump up your tires, pack a lunch, strap on your helmet and hit the road.