Sometimes you just want a short, easy ride. This is one of those, with a relaxing destination to boot.
Sayen Gardens is a mostly wooded free public garden in Hamilton, N.J., easily reached from the Princeton Junction train station (or the West Windsor Municipal Center or library for easier parking). For those who prefer something shorter than nearly 9 miles each way, parking at the East entrance to Mercer County Park is an option.
While this is a road ride, it’s generally quiet roads and flat. The trickiest bit for road-shy riders may be getting in the left lane before a traffic light on Old Trenton Road (a different one, depending on whether you’re coming or going) — just take advantage of red lights that create traffic gaps to signal and move on over. Line Road in particular is quiet because it’s not a through road to Hamilton for motorists … but it is for cyclists. And West Windsor, with a few exceptions, is generally a pleasant place to ride, with lots of bike lanes.
Once there, we saw a couple of people biking (slowly) on the garden’s wide footpaths. But we chose to lock up our bikes to the split-rail fence (no racks in the parking lot) and just wander.
So what will you see?
On Memorial Day, it was rhododendron (I really like ones with small white or pink flowers), ferns and ferns, and to my surprise a bit of cottage-garden foxglove. The foliage from masses of daffodils were splattered along the shady paths, exhausted from blooming, so I’ll aim to be back next April for that show.
We bypassed the fish pond on this visit, but we quietly watched a photo shoot in the Temple Gardens.
And to my surprise, there was none of the incessant Brood X mating calls that I hear in my neighborhood.
So leave the steep climbs for another day and wander through the woods at Sayen Gardens.