Week of May 29-June 5, 1996
Biking routes in New Jersey
The great Western raft trip, defined
Catskills camping tips
Still the best: Baja for sea kayaking
California's snowy Bishop Pass
Challenging hikes in the Smokies
Biking routes in New Jersey
Question: What are some good places for mountain and road biking in New Jersey?
Adventure Adviser: Ahh, New Jersey ... my old stomping grounds (if you must know, exit 45 off the Turnpike). As a biking fanatic and Garden State resident since age 6, I think I can steer you toward some notable rides in the much-maligned state's more rural, backwoodsy corners. Since I'm not sure if you have a car or what length rides you're looking for, I'll just toss out a couple of my favorites.
For a great, relatively easy 30-mile road loop that happens to be a stone's throw from my old backyard, try a spin in and around the Great Swamp and Jockey Hollow in Morris County. Starting in Loantaka Brook Reservation, off local Route 24 and Kitchell Road in Convent Station, this route falls into the "gently rolling" category, with a few hilly interludes, some pretty farmland and horse country, and not too much traffic. From the reservation parking area, follow the paved bike path through the woods and across Loantaka Way three miles to a right turn onto Green Village Road and a left turn about a half-mile later onto Meyersville Road. From there, take your first right onto Woodland Road, another right onto Miller Road, and a left turn at the T intersection onto Pleasantville Road. Take a left at the next intersection with Long Hill Road, pedal past the Great Swamp Wildlife Observation Area parking lot to a right turn at White Bridge Road in Meyersville. Hang a Ralph onto Pleasant Plains road, which will take you by the refuge headquarters and over a short stretch of gravel, to a right turn on Lee's Hill Road. Bear left at the fork onto Baileys Mill Road, right onto Youngs Road, right onto Lee's Hill Road again, then an immediate left onto Lindsley Road. Back at Long Hill Road, make another left, a right onto Lee's Hill Road, and a left at the light onto Glen Alpin toward Jockey Hollow.
Take a deep breath (I'm not done yet!): This is where the up-till-now flat terrain turns ever-so-slightly rolling and then no-bones-about-it steep. You'll cross over I-287 before continuing straight--and uphill--through the light at Route 202 and onto Tempe Wick Road. At mile 20, you'll hit the entrance to Morristown National Historic Park. Turn right and keep grinding up the hill, following the park road around, past the soldiers' huts and Sunrise Lake and back to Tempe Wick Road. Hang a Louie, cross Route 202 again to a left turn at Blue Mill Road and another left onto Van Buren. This will bring you to Spring Valley Road, where a right turn and then a quick left onto Kitchell Road will bring you back to your car at the Loantaka parking lot.
If you're feeling in more of a fat-tire frame of mind, head north about 45 minutes from Manhattan to the mighty Ramapo Mountains in Bergen County. There are miles of bike-friendly singletrack and old fire roads throughout the area--the best jumping-off point is Campgaw Mountain Ski Area and County Reservation (201-327-3500), just east of Route 202 in Mahwah. For other ideas, pick up a copy of The Best Bike Rides in the Mid-Atlantic (Globe Pequot, $12.95).