A new campsite near the D&R Canal and the East Coast Greenway in New Jersey

A camping option smackdab between New York City and Philadelphia.

Lots of space!

There are plenty of places to stay along the East Coast Greenway — unless you want to camp. That’s one of the challenges of a route that goes through densely populated urban areas as it connects some of America’s largest cities.

So add this camping option to the list — and in New Jersey no less, the most densely populated state. Mercer County, smackdab between New York City and Philadelphia, has just opened 10 camping spots in one of its biggest parks. Cost is $20 per night for no more than seven nights.

The spots are at the East entrance of Mercer County Park — so about 7 miles from the D&R Canal/East Coast Greenway and Washington Road for southbound riders, and 5 miles from the D&R Canal/East Coast Greenway and Bakers Basin Road for northbound riders.

We checked out the campsites on Sunday, one day before the reservations system went live. (And you must reserve in advance.) They look great! Of course, everything was still spanking new, but still… Thumbs up!

Continue reading “A new campsite near the D&R Canal and the East Coast Greenway in New Jersey”

Camping on the D&L Trail

A belated reply to a question I was asked at a talk about cool places to bike,

This is for those who want to camp along the 165-mile Delaware and Lehigh Trail. The question of campsites came up at a recent talk I gave at REI about great places to bike in New Jersey and beyond, because two people independently said they wanted to bike the entire route and cut costs by camping.

I was stumped. I know you can camp at Tinicum Park and at a private campsite just a bit north of it (as I discovered on a bike ride), and then there’s Washington Crossing State Park on the New Jersey side. (Info about an upcoming group bike ride and camping trip from Easton to Tinicum Park here.)

But beyond Easton and Bethlehem?

So I asked Brian at the D&L for help, and he kindly shared his map of campsites on or near the trail. (Let him know if you know of others.)

You can also check out Hipcamp, which includes camping possibilities on private land.

For those who want an indoor option, there’s this trail-friendly business in Lehighton (south of Jim Thorpe) that offers cheap sleeps in a bunkhouse.

Anyone else have suggestions? Or experiences with the campsites?

If you’re looking for a campsite in New Jersey that’s close to the main D&R Canal towpath (the one between Trenton and New Brunswick), there’s now one in Mercer County Park.

Read more about my bike rides on the D&L Trail here:

Bristol to Morrisville: A milkshake latte IPA? Another bike ride to yet more ‘weird beer’

Morrisville to New Hope: 30 socially distanced miles on the D&L and D&R trails

New Hope to Bethlehem: 24 soft-serve flavors on a 2-day bike adventure along the D&L Trail to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and back

D&L Trail: 24 soft-serve flavors on a 2-day bike adventure to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and back

What a shakedown ride: 133 miles over 2 days, going through New Hope and Easton on the D&L Trail. Plus the food report.

This mile marker is along the Lehigh River; unfortunately they aren’t used along the Delaware.

We’ll soon be heading out on another of our longer bike rides, and like last year, we have some new gear. So we needed another shakedown ride, like last year. Also like last year, we chose to make the Delaware & Lehigh Trail the focus. But unlike last year, we made it a two-day affair over Memorial Day weekend.

For a 165-mile trail (admittedly with a few road sections), the D&L Trail seems to still be pretty unknown, as I first said four years ago and again two years ago. Oh sure, people in our area may know there’s a trail on the “Pennsylvania side” of the Delaware between Lambertville and Frenchtown, NJ, and maybe as far south as Washington Crossing. But few realize the trail begins in Bristol, a Philadelphia suburb, and goes through Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown and ends north of I-80. I just keep trying to spread the word.

One problem with a bike overnight is figuring out where to stash the car. We decided we’d get around that by just riding from home, through Princeton and Pennington and then down to the river, avoiding the worst of the Sourland Mountains. That was easy to map out, aside from one little mistake. We didn’t want to ride on busy NJ 29 and thought something called Old River Road would take us behind the Golden Nugget flea market to a spot where we could cross the road and bridge to the D& Canal towpath. Unfortunately, that looks like it’s at least partly PSE&G private property, and we found ourselves on the road for about half a mile.

Then it was just a few miles to Lambertville, where we crossed over to New Hope. Our first reward: a French bakery.

Continue reading “D&L Trail: 24 soft-serve flavors on a 2-day bike adventure to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and back”

43 miles on Mississippi’s Tanglefoot Trail

The Tanglefoot Trail runs from New Albany to Houston.

bikes and butterfliesThis is a rail-trail that stands out for doing the most basic of amenities incredibly well — shelters with running water and real toilets (and even outlets to recharge your phone). Don’t laugh — I have been on many longer trails with almost no bathroom facilities and where water fountains are scarce. Oh, and they’ve got tool stands in some spots for when you need to do a quick repair.

Who does that?

downtown new albanyThe day’s route was straightforward: get on the Tanglefoot Trail at New Albany, the birthplace of William Faulkner and home to a vibrant downtown (the bakery comes highly recommended, but it didn’t open until 10 a.m. and we’d already had a hearty breakfast anyway), and head south to Houston 43 miles away. There’s an infrequently used rail line within sight of the trail head — maybe one day it will become a rail with trail that can extend the trail another 20 or so miles north to Ripley?

train and bike

Why is it called the Tanglefoot Trail? William Faulkner’s great-grandfather started the rail line and one of his engines was named … Tanglefoot.

The scenery varied — sometimes water, sometimes woodland, sometimes pasture for beef cattle, sometimes industry. The route, like most rail-trails, was essentially flat. We went through many small towns, some of which had seen much better days and others that had a decent population (4,000 if you counted every dog to 8,000 or so). You could find hotels and B&Bs not far from the trail — or in the case of this one, just off the trail. A couple of towns had supermarkets within sight of the trail.

And I was impressed with the number of rest stops (uncovered), rain stops (covered) and whistle stops (much more elaborate covered stops with water and clean flush toilets, plus wooden owls near the rafters to scare off birds — apparently it does help.). In the town of Pontotoc, where a third of users access the trail, the mayor has big plans to expand an already large whistlestop to offer RV and tent camping nearby (and more, including a large pavilion with a commercial kitchen). Private developers are betting on the trail too — not far away, a developer has cleared the land and is planning to install a number of cabins for travelers.

tanglefoot advocatesHats off to some of the enthusiastic advocates!

One thing I’d like to know more about is more about the Native Americans — the Chickasaw tribe. And yes, I’d like to know about on-road routes to Oxford and Tupelo. Just in case I was making a bigger trip out of this.

fried lunchWe ate lunch in the tiny town of Algoma. Walk into the country store and it’s fried everything for lunch. I went for chicken on a stick (fried chicken, fried onion, fried pickle, shish-kabob style) and some fried corn-something. (Tomorrow, I’m sticking to just fried vegetables!) The place may not look like much, but apparently it’s quite the destination for cyclists. Plus they let you camp out in the pavilion they built (yes, with water and toilet). If it’s dinner time, you might want to hit Seafood Junction across the road that offers an all-you-can-eat seafood buffett.

Yes, it’s always all about the food.

A bike overnight on Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River Trail

The Schuylkill River Trail, I think this could be eastern Pennsylvania’s version of the Great Allegheny Passage.

schuylkill trail

Pennsylvania is one lucky state.

It already has the amazing Great Allegheny Passage, that 150-mile rail-trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md., where it links up to the C&O Canal for those wanting to bike to Washington D.C.

After two days on the Schuylkill River Trail, I think this could be eastern Pennsylvania’s response. Admittedly, the trail isn’t completed and some completed sections are on quiet roads, rather than on paths. Nor will it be as long as the GAP. But even on the stretch we did — just over 50 miles from Conshohocken northwest to Reading, and then back — we had urban and rural, one-time industrial towns, some doing better than others, wide open and tree-covered paths, paved and crushed-stone surfaces, glimpses of river and a detour to history at Valley Forge. We even saw a row of four smokestacks, all that remains from an old factory. It could have been on the GAP.

Continue reading “A bike overnight on Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River Trail”
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