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If you’re looking for a change of luck on your gambling getaway to Atlantic City, try visiting the 7.6-mile Atlantic County Bikeway. The paved trail runs straight and flat as it offers a relaxing escape from the crush of traffic around the beachfront gaming and resort town located about 10 miles away.
The bikeway got its start as the West Jersey and Atlantic Railroad, a 40-mile subsidiary of the West Jersey Railroad’s parent Pennsylvania Railroad. Completed in 1880, the tracks ran from Newfield to near Atlantic City. It later became known as the Newfield Branch of the West Jersey & Seashore Railroad, another subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and eventually became part of the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. The railroad stopped using the western half of the line between Newfield and Mays Landing in 1958 and the remainder in 1966. A section between Shore Mall (now Harbor Square) and the Atlantic County Institute of Technology reopened as the bikeway in 2003.
The trail connects shopping and residential areas as it runs between the nexus of the heavily traveled Atlantic City Expressway and Garden State Parkway in the east through a dense forest to a government complex in the west. Numerous at-grade road intersections are well marked for pedestrians and motorists. Two-lane side roads parallel long sections.
Start at the eastern trailhead across West Jersey Avenue from Harbor Square, where trees screen the trail from adjacent streets and residential subdivisions as it heads northwest beneath power lines. The trail occasionally curves around utility poles in its path.
There are frequent benches for taking a breather, as well as informational signs about railroad history and the flora and fauna of the New Jersey Pinelands.
After 4.7 miles, the trail enters undeveloped woodland for about 2 miles to the outskirts of Mays Landing, the county seat of Atlantic County. The path ends at a vocational school on 58 acres that serves high school students and adults in the county. Although the trail ends here, historic downtown Mays Landing is about 2 miles ahead on Atlantic Avenue. Mays Landing sits on the eastern border of the 1.1-million-acre New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, the largest open space in the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard between Boston and Richmond, Virginia.
To reach the eastern trailhead at Harbor Square in Egg Harbor Township from Atlantic City, take US 322/US 40/N. Albany Ave. west from O’Donnell Memorial Park on Ventnor Ave. Go 6.9 miles, and turn left onto Tilton Road. Go about 300 feet, and then turn at the first right into the parking lot for Harbor Square. Go 0.1 mile, and look for marked trail parking on the right as the parking lot street becomes W. Jersey Ave.
To reach the western trailhead from the Atlantic City Expy., take Exit 17, and then turn right onto NJ 50/Egg Harbor–Green Bank Road. Go 4.7 miles (the road becomes NJ 50/Cape May Road), and then turn left onto US 40/Main St. Go 1.7 miles (the road becomes US 40/Harding Hwy.), and turn right onto Atlantic Ave. Go 180 feet, and then turn left to stay on Atlantic Ave. Go 0.2 mile, and then turn right onto 19th St. Look for parking on the left.
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