Riding the roads of northern New Jersey
April 30, 2011 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out where to ride my road bike in northern New Jersey. I'm looking for a 20- to 30-mile ride in a rural(ish) area--or at least some place where there are as few cars as possible.

Now that I've become a suburbanite, I want to get more out of my bike! I'm in Essex County and still pretty unfamiliar with the area.

I'm willing to drive 10 or 20 miles to get to the right place. Bonus points for local cycling resources, and a gold star for a place that I can get a good bike fit. I used to live in NYC, so my previous solution was riding to Central Park and doing three 6-mile loops. Which got pretty old. I have a Specialized Tri-Cross, which is a little sturdier than the average road bike but also a little heavier, so the flatter the better. I'd love to find a farm-y area, but that might be asking too much this close to the city.
posted by bassomatic to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't ridden there in years and it might be outside your range, but you might be interested in the D&R Canal Trail.
posted by fings at 10:59 AM on April 30, 2011

Best answer: NJDOT has some great biking maps for NJ. Rides vary in length from 10-50 miles, with one that goes the entire length of the state. Most are in the 30 mile or so range, and the longer ones typically have shorter optional routes. You can get PDF copies here, or you can request free printed copies (on nice waterproof tyvek) at staff@ridewise.org.

I've only done the Great Swamp Ride, which was quite nice.
posted by skwm at 11:45 AM on April 30, 2011

Not sure exactly where in Essex Co., but this is an established bike shop in Montclair that might be a good resource for you.

Also, I am by no means a serious cyclist, so my apologies if this suggestion is completely unhelpful, but when I do ride I always go on rail trails. In general, you might have some trouble finding the kind of rural feel you're looking for without going a bit farther afield. Sussex (where I live) and Warren counties have some roads that might be worth the trip - there's plenty of farm country out here.
posted by katie at 12:04 PM on April 30, 2011

You might also look into Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey -- every month they offer a huge number of rides, in every flavor of difficulty and setting.
posted by apparently at 12:05 PM on April 30, 2011

You might have a hard time finding a rural area in northern New Jersey. However, look into River Road heading north from the GWB. The area between the GWB and Harriman State Park is a common area for cyclists.

Or head Northwest, past 287. There's some good stuff out by Oakland, Wanaque, Ringwood, etc.

Exploration is your friend. Also try searching www.ridewithgps.com for your area.
posted by entropone at 2:30 PM on April 30, 2011

I'm a very big fan of the Great Swamp and the surrounding Meyersville area. Loantaka is also a nice area to bike around/through.
posted by plinth at 6:11 PM on April 30, 2011

Seconding skwm's suggestions. The NJDOT bike maps are great.
posted by tidecat at 7:46 AM on May 1, 2011

Seconding Delaware River Canal Trails, and if you're in a mood for a Park, Saddle River Park‎ is good for biking too. About 14 miles if you go in all directions.
posted by pyro979 at 7:47 AM on May 1, 2011

Response by poster: Great suggestions--thanks to all of you! Yesterday I rode the NJDOT's Washington Rock and Roll Tour ride and was pleasantly surprised at how manageable the traffic was. It's not rural, but it's not crazy busy either. Looking forward to the Great Swamp ride as well.
posted by bassomatic at 2:31 PM on May 2, 2011

Nthing the rail trail suggestion. I grew up in Essex County with a cycling enthusiast father, and this book was one that kept us busy for many years of my childhood. It's not exclusive to northern NJ, but it's very comprehensive in terms of history and topography, and includes some trails that are really worth multiple rides.

Also, if you ever feel like heading somewhat farther afield, there's a really great ride (~50 miles roundtrip, with a very gentle grade) in Jim Thorpe, PA.
posted by myownlostrib at 12:34 AM on May 3, 2011

Er. Failed at naming the book, didn't I. Whoops. 24 Great Rail-Trails of New Jersey by Craig P. Della Penna.
posted by myownlostrib at 12:36 AM on May 3, 2011

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