High Grade

Another perfect Sunday, go for a bike ride! For 30 miles the towpath trails of Pennsylvania’s Delaware Canal State Park and New Jersey’s Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park parallel the Delaware River. Gary and I have biked both sides of the river on the trails many times from New Hope, riding sections going north. Hey, let’s see some new Trail and ride south this time.

Starting from the parking lot at Scudders Falls in New Jersey, we bike right along the towpath. The canal is beautiful, full of water, the path, even and flat. The air is cool, the sun warm and a light breeze promises easy pedaling on the way back. Gary reports we are cruising along at 9 miles an hour. It doesn’t get better than this. 

In about 4 miles we come to the tiny town of Washington’s Crossing, on the Pennsylvania side. On Christmas Day in 1776, General George Washington led his troops through a blizzard across the ice-choked Delaware River and on to victory against the Hessians in Trenton. 

I took this photo years ago, watching re-enactors row large authentic Durham boats to relive the crossing. The river was treacherous that day, the rowers couldn’t compete with the swift current and a power boat had to rescue and tow them to safety. Who knows how history might have changed course had Washington not made it in 1776?

The Canal is more recent history. In 1830 construction began on the canal to move freight between Philadelphia and New York. Before the canal, goods were shipped by boat down the river, around Cape May, then up the coast of New Jersey. I always read every interpretive sign. The locks fascinate me. I’m so glad states have funded the re-watering of the canal system so we can see the engineering of the spillways and hydraulics. This modern lock replaces the old system, originally at this site. 

The lock keepers cottage still stands but it is a private residence now. There are locks, barges and historical homes, refurbished to preserve the heritage and culture, all along the canal. 

After 10 miles of riding, just about lunch time, the Station Pub in Lambertville is a welcome sight.

My chopped salad is delicious.

Gary worked up an appetite and doesn’t hesitate to order short rib eggs Benedict. 

We could have crossed the river in New Hope and ridden on the Pennsylvania side, back to the car. In fact, there are at least 5 loop trails, using the bridges in the 30 miles between Frenchtown and Trenton. That’s so cool! But If we stay in New Jersey, we’ll have a shady ride back to our car. 

So we watch the full flowing Delaware River on our right, and the placid canal on the left, power boats on one side, kayaks on the other, setting a leasurly pace.

There is so much to explore with this trail system. We haven’t even ridden a single mile on the main canal trail that runs from Trenton, north to New Brunswick, another 30 miles. I can’t wait! This trail receives a High Grade, absolutely A + in every category. We’ll be back!

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  1. How awesome to ride in an area with such pretty sights and some history – love seeing your adventures!

  2. Sounds great! Shady is good. We need to join you!!!

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