The best way to bike to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton

My favorite sculpture on the way to Grounds for Sculpture.

I’ve thought about biking to Grounds for Sculpture, a sculpture garden in Hamilton, N.J. started by Seward Johnson, a J&J heir and sculptor. But I didn’t like the routes Google Maps suggested, and then there is the industrial area around it…

But COVID has had me thinking about things to do locally. Then I heard there are now bike lanes on that industrial road, so it was time to check it out. Yes, that little bit of paint has made it seem much more comfortable — one lane in each direction instead of two and a clear place for trucks to park.

We tested two options, both using the D&R Canal towpath for a good part of it. There was one clear winner.

Now it still may be a better weekend ride, but a blast of spring — temps in the 70s, even if there is still a tiny bit of snow left — had me pulling out the bike.

Here’s our route, starting from the Princeton Junction train station. You of course can start on the canal towpath (if in Princeton, Turning Basin Park at the canal and Alexander Road has the most parking) or reach the D&R from the Lawrence Hopewell Trail. If you’re following along with Ride With GPS, don’t be put off by talk of a u-turn — that’s part of the ramp on the bridge over U.S. 1.

And if you’re not: take the canal towpath south, over the Route 1 bridge and across Bakers Basin Road. The next crossing is Carnegie Road. Go left here and into a quiet neighborhood. You’ll turn right onto Princeton Avenue. When you see the dead-end sign, turn left and go through American Metro. Now it gets tricky: you need to take Sloan Avenue over the railroad tracks and essentially make a big U to get on Klockner Road. This is the hairiest part because there is no bike lane on the bridge. Once you’re on Klockner, you’ll start seeing sculptures, like this take on American Gothic:

A fitting theme by the Hamilton train station.

And then this:

At Hamilton Supply, you turn right onto E. State Street. This is the industrial road that’s been made nicer with the bike lane. You’re only on it for about a mile before turning left on Sculptors Way. Keep going until you reach this:

That’s the entrance.

At least in COVID times, you’ll need to get a timed admissions ticket.

So what’s the other route?

We tried it going home, following E. State Street south until we reached the sharp right at a traffic light to get on Whitehead Road. This road had no shoulder and also had a bridge over the railroad tracks. It just felt less comfortable (and longer) than the Sloan/Klockner segment we had on the way to Grounds for Sculpture.

We didn’t want to deal with the nasty Route 1 on/off ramp traffic to get to the main path along the D&R Canal (improvements are coming there … in 2026), so we turned right into an unmarked parking lot/trailhead right before Route 1 and took that side of the canal. Nowhere near as nice! Bigger rocks at both the Whitehead and Carnegie Road ends of the segment.

Think of it this way: We tested it so you don’t have to.

About alliumstozinnias

A gardener (along with the Brit) who has discovered there is more than hybrid tomatoes. And a cyclist.
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