For a dose of rural scenery, head to the northwest corner of New Jersey, where this 27-mile rail-trail cuts a nearly uninterrupted path along the banks of the Paulins Kill, a Delaware River tributary that gives the trail its name. (Kill is from the Dutch and refers to a creek; it is used in areas of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware).
Farms line the corridor; you are likely to be in the company of equestrians, bicyclists and hikers. When the snow flies, skiers, snowshoers and even dog sled teams hit the route. There are occasional hints of the railroad that carried coal, produce and dairy products to points east on the corridor. Look for the original railroad mileage posts.
From the trailhead in Knowlton Township, several miles east of the Delaware River, the trail travels east along the north side of the Paulins Kill. In about 1 mile you pass under the massive Paulinskill Viaduct, also know as the Hainsburg Viaduct, an impressive structure built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad in 1910. With seven arches reaching 115 feet up and stretching 1,100 feet from end to end, the viaduct was the world's largest reinforced concrete structure in its time.
At about Mile 5, the trail passes through the Blairstown Airport, known for its glider rides over the Kittatinny Mountain Ridge. A runway restaurant with picnic tables provides front-row viewing of the planes and gliders. Lake Susquehanna is just to the south of the trail.
In Blairstown Township, Footbridge Park is a good spot for taking a break or exploring the town. A large parking area makes this an informal trailhead for the rail-trail. The trail crosses the Paulinskill several times over the next 4.5 miles. Upon reaching Stillwater Road, the stream and the trail diverge, and the trail enters a wooded wetland.
Just before Paulinskill Lake the route is interrupted by a missing bridge. A side path descends from the corridor to the road below. After crossing Sussex County Route 614, the path ascends back to the railroad grade. Back on the trail you get an elevated view of the long, skinny lake and the cottages that line its shores. Another bridge has been removed 2.25 miles farther at NJ Route 622. As before you must descend from the trail to the road and then climb back up to the elevated rail corridor. Exercise caution using these unmaintained side paths.
When the trail enters the Paulinskill Wildlife Management Area, near Paulins Kill Lake, wildlife abounds. You may encounter wild turkey, whitetailed deer and numerous species of birds and ducks as you make your way through the hardwood forests and wetlands. Don't miss this connection:
The Sussex Branch Trail
intersects the Paulinskill Valley Trail in Warbasse Junction. A trailhead near this junction provides parking and a restroom on NJ Route 663. Beyond this point the trail is not well maintained, so be prepared for what could be an adventure.
The remaining 0.6 mile includes several stream crossings with narrow footbridges. This part of the trail is little used and not maintained, so it may be overgrown and blocked by fallen trees or vegetation. The right-of-way ends abruptly at an active rail corridor. There is no public road access here.
To reach the Station Road Trailhead in Knowltown Township from I-80, take the Columbia Exit and follow SR 94 east. Turn right on Station Road. The trailhead is on the right side of the road just past the stone arch bridge.
To reach the northeastern endpoint from Newton, take US 206/SR 94 north. Bear right and continue on SR 94. Turn right onto Warbasse Junction Road. The trailhead will be on your left.