Gravitas: RDB: MTB: Proximity:
(Note: For full turn-by-turn directions, visit the Google Maps link above. This ride is best ridden on a hybrid or mountain bike. Road-bike riders should be able to negotiate the hard-packed gravel tow-path, but there is the possibility of running into soft spots, we rate it for intermediate road riders.)
This is a charming (and generally easy) 6 mile ride which begins at Mercer County’s South Riverwalk Park (which sits above the Route 29 tunnel), goes through Trenton’s oft-forgotten Marine Terminal Park, through the Abbott Marshlands along a orphaned section of the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail, and all the way to downtown Bordentown. It’s a really charming ride, and it’s flat as can be. Plus, if you start in Trenton, you end up in Bordentown where you can get a nice bit of lunch before you cycle home.
You can pick up the ride at South Riverwalk Park, a 6.3 acre community park that celebrates Trenton’s history and the history of the Delaware River waterfront. It’s a really immaculately maintained park (under Mercer County’s jurisdiction) and it features interpretive sculptures of Trenton’s history through the ages (from Native Americans to 2006). Sure, the history that’s presented is a little politically-correct for my taste, but still it’s a beautiful site to see. Over the river edge of the park, you have a terrific view of the Delaware River and Pennsylvania (and the Trenton Makes bridge).
In the South corner of the park (on the river side) you’ll find a small walkway that shoots you down a ramp onto Lamberton Street, which you can follow until you get to Marine Terminal Park. This is one of Trenton’s city parks. It was originally a port for cargo ships coming up the Delaware. You can see the striking gantry cranes that were used to unload ships, as well as some of the preserved equipment of Trenton’s industrial past. Still, it’s sad to see the contrast between the beautiful county park and the often unkempt city park.
Keep following Lamberton St. until you get to your first left, which is Canal Blvd. Make the left, and you’ll see the entry to the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park trail almost immediately on your right (don’t be tempted to keep following Lamberton, it dead ends in an industrial section of Duck Island and you’ll have to turn around). This is an orphaned section of the Canal State Park, separated from the rest of the park (which you can read more about here). The path follows next to the NJ Transit “River Line” tracks through the Abbot Marshlands, with the canal on your left and Duck Creek on your right. This section of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, built in the 1830’s (by hand!), used to carry barges from Bordentown to the Raritan River in New Brunswick. The canal was the primary means by which Pennsylvania coal and bricks traveled North towards central New Jersey and New York. It’s completely flat, and better maintained than the sections of the canal between Trenton and Princeton, making for easy cycling on the hard-packed fine gravel. Along the way, it is possible to see beavers, white tailed deer, bald eagles, and painted turtles, along with a plethora of resident and migratory songbirds.
At the end of this ride, you’ll find yourself in downtown Bordentown, where you can sample any number of the fine restaurants for a bite before you turn around and make the return trip. There’s a tiny elevation to get from the canal to downtown (and another when you get back into Trenton), but it’s really only a few feet of climb. It’s the easiest cycling that we’ve found along the canal, and it’s a beautiful ride.