About one mile of the twenty-mile-or-so Lawrence Hopewell Trail passes through Carson Road Woods’ hedgerows, fields, and forests. The land was once farm fields and a peach orchard; in the early twenty-first century, it was preserved as a park, saving it from development. To the north, the LHT passes through the Educational Testing Services headquarters, home of the SAT, GRE, and other standardized tests, before looping back through Rosedale Park and Mercer Meadows, a.k.a the Pole Farm, which are about three miles west of Carson Road Woods.
Spring Lake is part of Roebling Park, which is in the Abbott Marshlands of New Jersey. The park has had many names over the years. In the early twentieth century, this was the White City Amusement Park. It was renamed Boiling Springs Park a few years before it closed in 1922.
The Casino restaurant, a c. 1820 mansion that is now privately owned, provided patrons a view of the landscape below. A grand staircase allowed them to walk down to the lake, where there were more rides. The staircase is one of the few visible remnants of its past.
Most of the trails are for walking only, but the Spring Lake loop is bikeable. This park is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Port Mercer was a small town along the Delaware and Raritan Canal in central New Jersey. Since the canal closed down in 1932, commerce has shifted east to U.S. Route 1, where shopping malls, car dealers, and restaurants are now located. On the west side of the canal, there are still extensive swampy wetlands between Lawrence Township and Princeton.
One of the buildings that remains from the canal’s heyday is the Bridge Tender’s House – the worker who lived there was responsible for swinging open the bridge when a canal boat came through. Several similar buildings still exist along the canal.
Frederick Law Olmstead did not want a zoo in the park he designed for the city of Trenton, but Trenton gave the people what they wanted anyway. These barns were added later and housed exotic deer and other animals into the 21st century. Recent work has restored the natural areas, but the abandoned and decaying animal barns remain in place for now.
To see what this area looks like in the summer, see Cadwalader Park Natural Area.
Serendipitous is not the right word to use when you find yourself riding your bike alone in the woods around Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th. Fortunately, this was not Camp Crystal Lake, the stomping grounds of infamous axe-murderer Jason Voorhees. That’s up in north Jersey.
This Crystal Lake Park is near Bordentown in central Jersey. The park is mostly farm fields, with some steep wooded areas along the bluff overlooking Crystal Lake. To get to the park, you do have to drive down Axe Factory Road. I saw no actual axe factory, nor, I’m happy to say, any axe-wielders.
Sunny ride over the leaf-covered trails at Clayton Park near Imlaystown in Monmouth County, New Jersey. I rode for over six miles, covering almost all the trails in the park. Sighted one horse, one bike, and three dogs.
Some would call the region through which it passes “desolate”; a better word would be “subtle”A.D. Pierce, Iron in the Pines 1957
By the 1700s, a road, which likely followed a pre-existing Native American trail, ran from Camden, New Jersey, to the port town of Tuckerton on the Atlantic coast. According to local histories, to make their travel to yearly meetings easier, Quakers built a bridge over the Batsto River around 1772. The bridge predictably became known as the Quaker Bridge, and the road that passed over it became Quaker Bridge Road. In the 1800s, horse-drawn stage coaches regularly carried both mail and passengers through the Pine Barrens along this route.
In 1809, Arthur and Elizabeth Thompson opened the Quaker Bridge Hotel, also known as Thompson’s Tavern, just south of the bridge. The tavern remained open until at least 1850. Any remnants of the building vanished many years ago.
The area is now part of Wharton State Forest and Quaker Bridge Road is still a sandy trail through the barrens. On a pleasantly warm November day, there were few other people around: another (non-electric) fat bike, some hikers, a big dog, a couple of motorcycles, one jeep. From Atsion, a former company town and farming community, to the Quaker Bridge is about four miles. With some diversions, my round trip was 15 miles.
Swap out that Cyberquad in the back for a couple of e-bikes and we might have a deal. Say, the mid-level dual-motor AWD for $50K. Available in 2021, assuming Elon Musk avoids the fate of the last high-profile automobile designer who built a futuristic stainless steel car.