Great bike rides using the D&R Canal towpath along the Delaware River

WWBPA board member Steve Hagen’s favorite spot to bike is traffic-free.

You may be familiar with the D&R Canal towpath that marks the border between West Windsor and Princeton – but did you know that it goes for 34 miles, all the way to New Brunswick and Trenton? And that there is a second section along the Delaware River, with a sister canal path on the Pennsylvania side? (Click here for a map.)

WWBPA board member Steve Hagen shares why he spends many summer weekends on leisurely bike rides along the Delaware River.

Why I love riding on the canal paths along the Delaware River

1) The Delaware River is beautiful.

2) No cars.

3) No cyclists traveling at high speed.

4) It’s flat.

5) There are so many options for loop rides using paths on both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania side that I can ride as much or as little as I want. Of course, you can also just go as far as you want on the New Jersey side and then turn back. And it’s great for walkers too.

A Saturday polo match

My favorite loop is from Bull’s Island to Frenchtown on the D&R Canal towpath, then crossing the bridge to Pennsylvania (you must walk your bike!) and picking up the Delaware & Lehigh Trail (go left from the bridge, first right and watch for the sign) and heading north to the Homestead General Store in Upper Black Eddy for ice cream. On the way back, I stay on the Pennsylvania side all the way back down to Bull’s Island. There is so much to see on this loop, and it is the least travelled.

One mile south of the Frenchtown bridge is Tinicum Park, where you will find an afternoon polo match every Saturday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

This ride is about 26 miles long.

Two other loops I like:

1. Park at Washington Crossing Park in New Jersey, cross the bridge into Pennsylvania and ride south to Morrisville. Cross the Morrisville bridge (don’t go as far as the Trenton Makes bridge!) to Trenton and pick up the canal path heading north. Google Maps can show you where to pick up the canal on the New Jersey side – it’s pretty obvious when you are there, but being sure is always nice.

This ride is about 20 miles long.

This fall, the bike path along the new I-295 bridge should open, so you will have a shorter option.

The canal towpath goes under the covered bridge in Uhlerstown.

2. Start in Frenchtown, cross the Delaware there, then pick up the Delaware & Lehigh Trail (go left from the bridge, first right and watch for the sign)  and bike north past the Homestead General to Riegelsville, PA. Walk across the Riegelsville Bridge. After the Brooklyn Bridge, I think it is the nicest one built by John Roebling.

It’s about 22 miles from Frenchtown to Riegelsville and back.

More ideas for loop rides

A 14-mile ride

Start at the Washington’s Crossing Park parking lot alongside the river and ride north along River Drive. through the quaint town of Titusville and onto a dirt road. The dirt road runs into the D&R canal path.

Ride to Lambertville and walk your bike across the bride to New Hope. When you cross the bridge turn left onto Main Street. You’ll need to be on the road for several blocks. No way you can ride a bike on the sidewalks. Cross the road just after Dock Street to pick up the Pennsylvania canal path. The path is just across the street from a pay parking lot.

Or go past Main Street and pick up the canal path.

New Hope has numerous restaurants and ice cream shops. There is a clean bathroom in the New Hope Visitors Center. The Visitors Center is on the right side of Main Street, not too far from the bridge. Across from the Visitor’s Center is a very good pizza/Italian restaurant.

You’ll find an historical cemetery off the canal path just outside of New Hope. The Continental Army camped here before marching on Trenton. It is quite moving.

Ride south to Washington’s Crossing Historic Park, PA., take a left off the Canal Path onto Route 532. Cross the bridge to NJ and back to Washington’s Crossing Park, NJ.

A 20-mile ride

Start in Washington Crossing. When you get to Lambertville, cross Bridge Street and continue on the canal path to Stockton. Make a left at the convenience/country store and walk your bike across the bridge into Pennsylvania. Head south on the canal path toward New Hope.

Stockton has several cute restaurants, the Stockton Market with many food options, and Odd Bird Brewing.

A 27-mile ride

Start in Washington Crossing. Stay on the canal path through Lambertville and Stockton to Bull’s Island Park, where you will find clean indoor bathrooms. Cross the bridge there into Pennsylvania and head south toward Stockton.

Just after the Stockton bridge is a clean indoor bathroom at Prallsville Mills. On Upper York Road near the bridge is Dilly’s Restaurant, a great place to get burgers, fries, hot dogs and soft ice cream. Unfortunately, Dilly’s is very crowded on weekends.

For a shorter version, start this ride in Prallsville Mills at the northern end of Stockton, bike south to Lambertville, cross to New Hope and head back on the Pennsylvania side for a 9-mile loop.

The view from the Frenchtown bridge.

A 45-mile ride

Start in Washington Crossing and stay on the canal path all the way to Frenchtown. Walk your bike across the bridge into Pennsylvania, pick up the canal towpath again (go left on the road, first right and watch for the sign.) and head south toward Stockton, New Hope and Washington Crossing Historic Park, PA.

Frenchtown has several nice restaurants.

Start and end this ride at Prallsville Mills and it’s a 25-mile loop to Frenchtown.

Directions from West Windsor and parking tips

Take I-95 South toward Philadelphia to the last exit in New Jersey. Take Route 29 north until you reach your preferred parking option and start riding.

Parking option No. 1

Washington’s Crossing Park has a huge parking lot along the river. If the lot is full, exit the lot to the right for additional parking. If the additional parking section is full, keep going north and drive through Titusville. The pavement will turn into a large dirt road. Park anywhere on the dirt road. If still no parking, cross the bridge to PA. There is a parking lot ½ mile over the bridge on the right.

A restaurant called Patriots Tavern just before the parking lot is a great place to get some greasy food and a beer after the ride. The back deck overlooks the river.

Washington’s Crossing Park has clean indoor restrooms.

Parking option No. 2

There is limited street parking in Lambertville – don’t even try. Instead, head north and hang a left onto a small road just before the Route 202 toll bridge between Lambertville and Stockton. It leads to a huge parking lot that never seems to fill up.

Parking option No. 3

On the northern end of Stockton are the historic Prallsville Mills with public parking and a clean indoor bathroom. This lot fills up quickly on hot summer days.

Parking option No. 4

Bull’s Island has a large parking lot.

Parking option No. 5

There are several parking lots between Bull’s Island and Frenchtown. The Frenchtown lot is large but fills up quickly.

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One Response to “Great bike rides using the D&R Canal towpath along the Delaware River”

  1. Steve Friedlander says:

    My favorite ride is between Milford and Reigelsville. Old River Rd on the NJ side hugs the River and is particularly nice. My favorite 2 day ride is going to Easton to see a concert at the State Theater, stay overnight at the Grand Eastonian, and ride back the next day. I did it 2-3 years ago starting from the parking lot north of Lambertville, which is about a 37-38 mile ride to Easton.

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