What a way to end National Bike Month and lead into National Trails Day — a ribbon-cutting for a new section of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail.
I’m a big fan of this 22-mile loop in Lawrenceville and Hopewell (between Trenton and Princeton for those of you not from here). I wrote about riding the entire loop in April, and we got excited at the sight of construction for this new piece of the trail.
This section, just 0.6 miles, lets users avoid busy Rosedale Road by going from Province Line Road into the ETS campus. Once there, you can ride a loop through the campus or just keep going south, across Rosedale and into a neighborhood and then the Carson Woods.
And once the ribbon was cut, joggers and walkers immediately started using it.
The bigger picture is the segment puts the LHT at 20.25 completed miles. Funding has been lined up for three more segments, and talk is that it could be finished in about three years.
The next piece will get users off a small stretch of Old Mill Road, eliminate two crossings of Federal City Road and involve a 500-foot bridge over the Stony Brook. (You’ll also no longer go past the Equestrian Center and the Mercer County Master Gardeners’ area.) Mercer County should put the project out to bid shortly, and construction is expected this fall and winter.
While this is a nice segment, it’s not what I would call one of the major remaining pieces. That would be a boardwalk that will get users off a nasty section of Princeton Pike (construction expected next year) and a trail to keep users off busy Carter Road (with no shoulder) and part of Cleveland Road. Could work start on that next year as well?
One of the amazing things about this trail is that it’s been led by citizens, not government (though of course county and local governments play a big part in getting it built). They’ve perservered since 2002; the first segment was done in 2004 — at ETS. Kudos to them — an estimated 400,000 people used the trail last year.
Now it’s time for others to connect to it and make it an even bigger resource for the area. Some friends and I rode my bike to the ribbon-cutting via the D&R Canal towpath and part of the LHT, using it as an excuse to stop for the Trenton Volcano roll I’d spotted on the April ride.
On the way back, though, I went through Princeton. And that connection is essentially there — it just needs some signage, if not also some rebranding.
The Province Line Road end of the new segment is essentially opposite Audubon Lane, a residential street that’s already in Princeton. Follow it and it leads to Rosedale Road, which has a sidepath now that it’s in Princeton. Follow it past the turnoff for Johnson Park School, past D&R Greenway Land Trust headquarters to where it intersects Elm Road. (The sidepath could use a refresh, but that’s another matter.) After that, the name changes to Cleveland Lane and you get into the old mansions section of town (and where President Grover Cleveland once lived). From there, it’s a short ride to downtown Princeton or the Princeton train station.
Essentially all that’s missing is some signage. Why not start by adding information (distance, approximate time to destination whether going by bike or on foot) to the “bike route” signs along the sidepath?