I shocked a few of my neighbors when I said I was biking to Philadelphia this past weekend. It takes an hour to drive using I-95 so it seems crazy far to bike … and besides, how would you go?
OK, it was 50 miles on Saturday, 58 on Sunday. One day for the Pennsylvania side, one for the New Jersey side, using parts of the Philadelphia area Circuit Trails network. We’d biked sections of the two routes so what we really wanted to know is which way is better.
These bike overnights are all trail or mostly trails. Trips range from one night to closer to a week.
It’s winter. I’m staring at snow. I really want to get on my bike and go somewhere, but all I can is plan trips for once the weather gets nicer, including a multi-day ride on New York’s new Empire State Trail.
If you’re getting cabin fever too, here are five favorite DIY bike overnights using trails or mostly trails and (important for me) easily reached from New Jersey. (Sorry, Katy Trail, much as I enjoyed it.) We are generally credit-card tourists, travelling light and staying in hotels rather than camping. But I’ve included some camping information if that’s more your thing.
A gorgeous day, and a trail has reopened. What more could we want?
The D&R Canal towpath has reopened — yay! And it’s finally sunny and warm! Time for a longish but easy bike ride.
So on Saturday we headed to the blue water tower along the Delaware River in Morrisville, Pa., the same place we met friends last year for a “weird beer” ride to Neshaminy Creek. Only this time we were headed north, chatting with a friend as we went (with social distance, of course) along the Delaware & Lehigh Trail.
Our first stop: this odd historical marker at the edge of Morrisville. It’s taller than me and commemorates the nearby spot where William Penn bought the first section of Pennsylvania.
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.
What a shakedown ride: 133 miles over 2 days, going through New Hope and Easton on the D&L Trail. Plus the food report.
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.
This bike ride began with a tip: you can watch polo matches in Tinicum Park, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just across the Delaware River from New Jersey.
Polo? That blue-blood sport? Who knew?
A little bit of Internet sleuthing nailed it down: the Tinicum Park Polo Club hosts matches every Saturday at 2 p.m. from May to early October. And it’s easy to reach by bike because the Delaware & Lehigh Trail goes by the park and the D&R Canal State Park (a trail) is on the other side of the river, connected by the bridge at Frenchtown.
Bonus for cyclists: we don’t pay (I checked). Regular admission is $10 per carload.
My last two-day training ride before the Week-a-Year was 70 miles along part of the Delaware and Lehigh Trail in northeastern Pennsylvania. And all four of us on this trip kept looking at each other and saying this is beautiful and why didn’t we know about it?