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The Barnegat Branch Trail will eventually travel nearly 16 miles from Barnegat Township to Toms River on the abandoned Barnegat Branch Division of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. Currently, 3 disconnected segments of trail have been completed through the sandy soils of the Pine Barrens.
The longest, southern segment runs between Barnegat and Forked River and has a stone dust surface, although the trail is paved where it crosses roads. At this section's midpoint, the small town of Waretown offers a convenience store and drug store for refreshments. South of the community of Forked River, the trail passes the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station—set for closure in 2019—and crosses the actual river on a converted railroad trestle.
Farther north, another segment of trail is stone dust and runs between Dudley Park and Hickory Lane in Berkeley Township. The park, located at the southern edge of the township, offers swimming, picnic tables, a covered pavilion, playground and roller skating rink.
The oldest trail segment runs through the borough of Beachwood, so it is unsurprising that the 1-mile long path is also known as the Beachwood Borough Trail. The paved trail spans the community, ending at the Toms River border in the north.
Parking for the Barnegat Branch Trail is available in Barnegat on Burr Street. The trailhead also contains outdoor seating areas, drinking fountains, restrooms and a public meeting space. In Waretown, the trailhead on Country Lane offers additional bathrooms and a display featuring information on the railroad history of the region.
For the segment in Berkeley Township, parking can be found in Dudley Park on US 9/Atlantic City Boulevard in the south and along Railroad Avenue just south of the intersection with Maryland Avenue in the north.
There are no designated trailheads for the Beachwood Borough Trail segment of the Barnegat Branch Trail, but parking may be found on adjacent neighborhood streets.
My friend and I rode the trail from Railroad Avenue in Forked River to what we thought was the end of the trail in Barnegat. We thought it was the end because there was a zero marker and it said End. However, we later learned after looking at the map that the trail actually went farther. I guess is was marked as the End because there's a break in the trail there. The distance we rode was about 6.5 miles one way. This trail is best used by commuters or beginner riders. The surface is mostly tight-packed gravel. There are several crossings, most not heavily trafficked streets. The scenery is not much to speak of, as it flanks busy roads most of the time. This makes it good for commuting. The last 2.5 miles we rode were the most scenic, going through a forested area. I wouldn't recommend this trail if you're looking for scenery and want to feel removed from the hustle and bustle.
As others have noted, this trail isn't complete. And before you head out on it, it's hard to know exactly which parts are complete and which aren't. There's even an impassible stream right in the middle of the trail. It's almost shallow enough to wade across, but we had a pet trailer with us that wouldn't have made it. There's a broken down railroad trestle that one might walk across if he/she didn't have bikes and pets to worry about. The only way around the thing is to take a detour down to route 9 and ride on the street for a quarter mile or so, at parts there's no shoulder and cars zip past just inches from your bikes.
Sections of the trail are tall grass with two sets of tire ruts, some sections are fairly deep sand that's really difficult to bike on, and some sections are very nice shallow gravel. As the trail crosses certain streets, some of these intersections don't even have ramps for bikes yet. One must hop the curb to continue on the trail.
I thought some of the finished sections might be paved, but only very small portions are paved around certain intersections and when the trail goes through shopping areas.
But still, overall, it's a fun ride with a lot of potential. Long, scenic, and in a great location.
The completed section described by the previous reviewer is confirmed. Rode it today on my bike. Tried to use the map to take streets to pick up the next section north but discovered part of Locker St. is closed so had to navigate back out to Hwy 9. Would be nice if we could get suggested work-arounds on trails like this that aren't completed yet. Also, when I did pick up the trail north again, you should know that the last segment (about a half-mile) that ends in Beachwood was terrible with roots and grass everywhere. Very uncomfortable on a bike.
On the map on TrailLink.com, it shows that the upper portion of the Barnegat Bay Trail stops at Maryland Ave. However, it extends all the way to Segle Ave. in Bayville. I just biked this portion yesterday and today from William J. Dudley Park to Segle Ave (All Berkeley Twp.) This should be updated soon as this may turn people off. People want a reliable computer site to refer to.
When completed this trail will have it all. Plenty of parking, a nice smooth wide trail, historical markers and maps, restrooms, and even a convenience store or two are just a few of the amenities. However, unfortunately it's not complete.
Coming from the south the trail is only about six miles. This may be great for the locals however would not entice anyone to drive to the trail.
I want to offer my thanks for the planners who are striving to make this a "showcase trail". The nice long parking spaces allowing those of us with rear bike carriers to easily fit in the spot is very much appreciated. Excellent job! Designing the trail to be wide enough to make passing enjoyable instead of a challenge is another nice find. Picnic tables, restrooms, and cool little historical plaques are yet another detail not to be overlooked.
I look forward to riding this trail when it's complete!
Enjoy the ride, it goes by fast!
The trail was surprisingly scenic. The gravel was soft in spots but the entire trail was level. There were interesting historic markers that helped put the general area into historical context. Most of the trail traverses a wildlife refuge and the bridges go over a watershed area with beautiful waterbirds on the shore lines. We biked the full length (7.4 miles) and did the return. The only part that was a little disappointing was the fact that the trail goes right in front of a new strip mall and townhouse development. I guess its okay if you need a Dunkin Donuts break during your ride. lol Part of the trail opens up to a field of brightly colored wildflowers in a rainbow of colors flanking the trail, which was quite beautiful. There were also a few side trails that we didn't take due to time constraints, but we will most likely return to do those as well. All in all, a pleasant interesting ride. P.S.-I don't know what was planted along the trail, but on various part of the trail it had the most amazing spicey smell....like cinammon or cloves.
Barnegat Branch Trail continues to make progress. Coming from the south, the trail has been extended from the Waretown border to almost Lacey Road. From the trail head in Barnegat to Lacey Road is almost 7 miles. Rails to Trails has done a great job on all 4 of the bridges in this section of Lacey.
With its proximity to the Jersey Shore and quaint, cottage-style houses, many of which were originally built as summer homes, Beachwood is a nice town in eastern New Jersey. Unfortunately, many of the streets lack sidewalks, making walking and cycling difficult and dangerous. However, in recent years local officials have taken steps to rectify this problem by constructing several trails and boardwalks, the longest being the Beachwood Borough Trail. Constructed on a section of the defunct Barnegat Branch Line, the paved rail trail is a little over a mile long and bisects the middle of town, stretching from the intersection of Atlantic City Blvd. and Admiral Ave. south to a point along Railroad Ave. This central location provides easy access for most borough residents and allows them to avoid unecessarily short car trips, as well as the need to walk along busy Routes 9 and 166. Most of the trail is tree-lined, providing welcome shade from summer heat, and there is a nice pocket park on the island where the trail crosses Route 9. The only downsides are the lack of benches, and the fact that the pavement on the section of the trail between Routes 166 and 9 is degrading and is in bad need of repair. Users should also exercise caution when crossing Route 9, which is heavily traveled and is notorious for speeding motorists. Nonetheless, the trail is a great asset in car-friendly Jersey and could one day be extended further north to Toms River and south to join the Barnegat Branch Trail, forming a continuous greenway on a densely populated section of the Shore.
Wonderful beginner bike trail. Smell is pleasant plants, trail is flat and wide, and offers a second trail (unfinished) for those wishing a bumpy trail ride. If you are seeking exercise, you may need do this twice at a fast pace. Local streets offer additional mileage to travel.
Rails-To-Trails has done a great job in Barnegat and Waretown. I was very impressed with the trail when it was first started. As time went on the trail only got better. From the safety aspect of the road crossings, the addition of tree and shrub identification, park benches, to the history of the rail road being displayed at various points along the trail. Troop 23 Eagle Scouts have uncovered the old turntable in Barnegat, near the intersection of the Trail and Rose Hill Road. The Eagle Scouts also had cleaned up the old Tuckerton RR Coal Dump prior to the rail trail being built. This Coal Dump is located about 0.3 mile south, of the start of the south trail head in Barnegat, near the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Brook Street. The newer sections of the trail in Waretown should be completed soon. These newer sections leave the wooded area of Waretown and begin to parallel Route 9 through to Lacey Township.
We walked this trail last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very well maintained with lovely fall foliage. Its a nice easy trail to walk and bike. There are a few historic sites noted on the walk and tree identification. It would be great to have a port-a-potty somewhere along the trail. We entered at Barnegat trailhead and walked to Waretown and back. Only one picnic table on trail and that is very near Waretown. There are benches along the trail if you need to rest. The trail is not crowded and bikers or walkers looking for an easy trail will enjoy it.
My previous post to this page had not been published, perhaps due to reporting disappointing information about the political climate in Lacey Twp. toward completion of this trail.
Well today I have some good news! While driving through Bayville/ Berkley Twp., NJ I saw crews at work paving the old railroad right of way including a very nice and safe road crossing at the Central Parkway crossing.
I went to Asbury Park Press ( app.com ) and behold archived was a report on funding of this improvment.
As reported in my previous post, the trail in Beachwood is protected and improved, Beachwood and Bayville adjoin each other so the prospect of a nice trail through two towns appears good.
In Lacey Township. prospects for completing the trail are more gloomy. The Right-of Way is un-obstructed but the sandy soils of the Pine Barrens make biking this stretch an iffy proposition.
Lacey Twp. still seeks to make a roadway out of the trail, Lacey owns the R.O.W.
The trail runs from Burr Street to Wells Mills and totals just over 3 miles. It's fairly level, mostly shaded, cooler than running or biking out in the sun. It's not worth driving very far to get to yet. Once it's complete to Toms River it will be a great long scenic ride. At the moment it's a pleasant local trail that's a welcome option from running/biking by the roadside. There's parking at each end, and it's never super crowded.
Length noted on the Jew Jersey Shore.com site states 14 miles and trailink.com states 2 miles; do we know if when this trail will be complete? Rather not drive down the parkway to exit 69 to bike just 2 miles. Thanks.
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