D&R Canal Trail

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D&R Canal Trail
Lambertville, New Jersey-Delaware and Raritan Canal.jpg
D&R Canal Trail in Lambertville, New Jersey
Length 77 mi (124 km)
Trailheads Trenton
Frenchtown
New Brunswick
Use Hiking, Cycling
Hiking details
Trail difficulty Easy
Season Year round
Hazards Road crossings, adjacent canal
Surface Stone dust
Right of way United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company
Website Official D&R Canal Park site

The D&R Canal trail is a recreational trail in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The 77-mile (124 km) trail is made up of three segments that transverse three counties: a canal towpath from New Brunswick to Trenton; a canal towpath / rail trail from Trenton to Bull's Island; and a rail trail from Bull's Island to Frenchtown. The three combined trails together form the largest completed trail entirely in New Jersey.[citation needed] Much of the trail runs along the existing Delaware & Raritan Canal inside the New Jersey state park of the same name.

There is no direct connection between the main and feeder canal paths along the Delaware River. Signed on-street connections are required to traverse the entire trail system.

The proposed Capital to Coast Trail is planned to connect to the D&R Canal Trail.

Main Canal Towpath[edit]

The main canal towpath trail is 29 miles (47 km) long and constructed on the earthen towpath used by mules to pull barges along the canal, the surface is packed dirt, gravel and crushed stone. Parts become muddy in wet weather; parts are covered with coarse sharp stones similar to track ballast and dangerous to road bike tires. The majority of the path was resurfaced in early 2011, however flooding by Hurricane Irene has scoured off the trail's top surface on the New Brunswick end leaving a course surface suitable only for mountain bike and pedestrian use. The main entrance in New Brunswick is at the Landing Lane Bridge.

Major Access Points (with parking)

Feeder Canal Towpath/Rail-trail[edit]

The feeder canal was used to supply water to the main canal from the Delaware River, this towpath eventually had rail laid along its length which provides a firm foundation common to rail trails; the surface is crushed stone. The feeder canal trail, including the rail trail to Frenchtown is 28.7 miles (46.2 km) long. The trail begins in Trenton near Route 1 and ends north of Frenchtown.

Access Points

Rail trail[edit]

Technically, the D&R canal starts near Bull's Island (now a state campground) in Raven Rock where it connects to the Delaware River; the trail north of the Bull's Island inlet is a rail trail built on the rail bed of the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company; the surface is crushed stone. Boarded by Route 29 on the east, and the Delaware River on the west there are few access points along its length, the path is also less heavily traveled than the southern feeder canal segment. During the summer months much of the rail trail segment is shaded with an overhead canopy of foliage providing a cool hiking or biking environment.

The railroad line was originally built from 1851 to 1855 by the Belvidere Delaware Railroad, which was a subsidiary of the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company. In the early 1870s, the railroad was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and became a vital freight branch. Competition from federal funded highways and automobiles caused freight service to suffer; passenger service was terminated in 1960. The PRR merged with the New York Central Railroad in 1968 to form the Penn Central (PC) in 1968. The PC later went bankrupt and was absored into the government-created Conrail system, who abandoned the line between Milford and Trenton in 1978. All trackage was removed by 1981. Tracks in Lambertville were however saved due to the ownership of the Black River & Western Railroad running heritage excursions to Flemington. From the 1860s to the 1940s, the Bel Del served as one of Pennsylvania Railroad's major branch lines. From the 1950s to the 1970s, freight was still mighty but slowly dwindled by 1975. Now more than half of the great Bel Del has been replaced by a recreational trail. Statuses on trackage in Lambertville and Milford are currently abandoned.

Major Access Points (with parking)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°28′31″N 74°34′17″W / 40.4754°N 74.5714°W / 40.4754; -74.5714