I first rode the north section of this trail in Lawrenceville, which is disappointingly short and I noticed it could also use some improvement. I can report that the town is working on that; an architect friend of mine is involved in a project to improve the trail through various additions like benches, planters, and signage that points out the history, and I believe also cutting back some of the trees and vegetation and straightening the path where needed. I’m not sure of the exact details but knowing my friend it will be a substantive upgrade...as an architect he specializes in historic restorations. I hope they eventually restore the right-of-way north as far as possible. The trolley originally went to Witherspoon Street in Princeton, although much of the right-of-way north of the current trail head in Lawrence (near the Starbucks parking lot) has been bought up and developed in the ensuing decades. Perhaps there are some sections that can be restored between there and Princeton.
But today I finally took a drive down to the South section. It is awesome - it continues a lot farther south, as I had hoped. I could see in Google Maps that it seemed to continue south of Shabakunk Creek (farther than the Trail Link app indicates) and it does by a lot. (I turned on my Strava app during my ride and it’s 2.4 miles one-way.) Although the farther south you go the more unimproved it gets. There’s a baseball field park just to the east on Eggert’s Crossing Road where you can park to access the trail. This point puts you about 2/3 of the way down from the current North trail head behind Rider University. This north section has a more medium-sized coarser gravel overall and a sandy consistency that gave my thinner hybrid tires a little trouble, so I had to ride on the wide grass medians. For that reason, along with the unimproved south end where you will also encounter some large mud holes (with frogs in them!) I will be using my hybrid-mountain bike on this trail from now on. In fact, this trail has the most diverse range of surface textures I’ve encountered in one rail-trail—sandy gravel, hard-packed fine crushed gravel, dirt, and paved blacktop. It makes for a diverse rail-trail riding experience. I know some riders like more consistency, as do I, but I thought it was a fun diversion from the usual. The only part that made me huff and puff a little was getting back up the slight uphill grade on the paved section just south of Eggert’s Crossing Road.
You can get just over 6 miles out of the Johnson Trolley Line-South if you want. You start at the Eggert’s Crossing Road access point, head north to the end (3/4 mile), then turn around and go all the way to the south end (2.4 miles); then you can go all the way north again (2.4 miles) and then back down to the access at Eggert’s Crossing Road (3/4 mile). That’s exactly 6.3 miles and a very nice ride. I only had to dismount once and push around the edge of a large mud hole near the south end. Hopefully Ewing Township will continue to make needed improvements in this area, which ends at 5th street. The trail could even be continued south towards its original Trenton terminus via a bike lane along 5th street (which now occupies the old route) and then through a long wooded section just south of that, then along various parking lots and industrial yards eventually ending at W Ingham Avenue in Trenton. Wouldn’t it be nice…
But this is a great trail! It’s only a half hour from my home in Hillsborough (most of my favorite rail-trails require an hour drive to get to) and it’s long enough to get a decent ride.
My sincere hope is that a bridge can be built to cross I-95/295 and connect the north and south sections. I can’t wait to ride the Johnson Trolley Line-South trail again, especially this Fall - the colors will be spectacular.