This is my latest New Jersey trail discovery. Well, kind of. I knew the Union Transportation Trail existed, but it was disjointed for several years while being built. The last segment was finished early last year, however, and now it’s a 9-mile stone-dust trail in Monmouth County stretching from the Mercer County line to the Ocean County line.
Today’s weather — warm and sunny — is finally a sign that spring is coming. A great reason to get out and finally ride it from end to end. And back of course.
The UTT goes through rural New Jersey using the old Union Transportation Railroad (and previously the Pemberton and Hightstown Railroad) rail bed. At the northern end, it cuts through a corner of the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area. But after that, there’s private property on both sides — farms, light manufacturing (that saw mill was a surprise!), housing and the odd junked car.And the trail isn’t just for cyclists, walkers (with or without a dog) and joggers. This is New Jersey horse country, after all.
What you’ll see on the UTT
There isn’t much in the way of green to look at this time of year. The fields still hold the remains of last year’s crops, there are no daffodils or even, best I could tell, forsythia ready to burst into yellow bloom. But as we headed back to the car near the northern end, we passed through a swampy area and were welcomed by a chorus of frogs (mating calls?) and perhaps birds (or were those cheeps from frogs too?)
Don’t expect lots of amenities. I saw one picnic table. There’s no place to get water — unless you want to ask at the golf course you’ll pass. Parking (with port-a-potties) is near the ends of the trail, not in the middle. But you’ll always know where you are; the cross road is identified at each intersection, and there’s a mileage marker every half mile. Wish others would do that!
But for those willing to get off the trail and on the road, you’re only a few miles from Screamin’ Hill brewery, which I’ve written about a few times. Just leave the trail at either Davis Station Road or Burlington Path. And just to the west of the golf course is Historic Walnford, a former mill village that has been preserved.
Will the trail keep growing? You can see the power line right of way just keeps going at both ends. And while we found these warning signs acros Old York Road at the northern end, work has already begun on figuring out how to add another 3.5 miles there into East Windsor.
Will the same happen at the other end?