Johnson Trolley Line Trail

New Jersey

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Johnson Trolley Line Trail Facts

States: New Jersey
Counties: Mercer
Length: 3.3 miles
Trail end points: Phillips Avenue to Denow Road and Lawrence Township
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Dirt, Grass, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016563
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Johnson Trolley Line Trail Description

The Johnson Trolley Line has two sections, north and south, which are split by Interstate 95; there is talk of building an overpass to link the two segments. The Trenton-Princeton Traction Company ran the old trolley, known as the "Fast Line," through this corridor from around 1901 until 1940. The fare was only 10¢. The Johnson Trolley Line Trail occupies a portion of right-of-way abandoned by the former trolley company.

North Section: This section runs 1 mile through a tree-lined neighborhood, between Gordon Avenue and Denow Road. Just south of Gordon Road, you can access another trail to Village Park (to the northwest) or the Lawrenceville School path (southeast).

South Section: This section is just under 1 mile and follows a portion of Johnson Avenue from Shababunk Creet to Spruce Street. A newly constructed section from Eggert's Crossing Road to I-95 now includes a bridge over Five Mile Run.

Parking and Trail Access

North Section: Park in the village of Lawrenceville or in the nearby Village Park along Yeger Drive.

South Section: Park along Johnson Avenue. Contact Lawrence Township for additional information

Johnson Trolley Line Trail Reviews

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 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.

I first rode the north section of this trail in Lawrenceville, which is disappointingly short. I hope they eventually continue it North as far as possible. The trolley originally went to Witherspoon Street in Princeton...would be nice to get as close to that as possible! But today I finally took a drive down to the South section. It is awesome. I turned on my Strava app and it’s 2.4 miles. I could see in Google Maps that it seemed to continue South of Shabakunk Creek and it does! Although the farther you get the more unimproved it gets. It gets a bit muddy and rough. Still, no time I know to bring my hybrid/mountain bike, but the hybrid had no problem. Hopefully Ewing Township will make improvements and even continue the trail South towards its original Trenton destination. Great trail! I can’t wait to ride it this Fall!

I believe it is time for the Ewing Township portion of this trail to be officially included on TrailLink, as recently Ewing has finally been able to make improvements and repairs on the segment between the Shabakunk Creek and the Whitehead Road Extension. The township has filled in potholes and cut down weeds along this trail segment in addition to repaving the trail segment with stones and gravel, much like what Lawrence Township did with their two segments of the trail. However, the trail segment between the Whitehead Road Extension and 5th Street in Ewing is still mostly dirt and I advise fellow trail users to keep this in mind until Ewing has finished making some repairs on this segment of the trail.

For detailed info click here:


We love utilizing the former trolley line trail for walks and easy bikerides through neighborhoods, woodlands and over streams. Best time is when we use the trail to access the July 4th fireworks ddisplays at Rider University. It's a night ride on inky dark trails, but we use headlights and love that we aren't riding through or battling car traffic.

I recommend the Johnson Trolleyline trail for local use linking Trenton to downtown Lawrenceville.

I've grown up by this trail all my life and just recently I found there was another part to it. I biked to the other side which is extremely dangerous due to the fact that the only way there is a highway bridge with a small sidewalk. I also received rude comments from passing drivers. I dislike this lack of connection to a trail that I find hauntingly beautiful because of it's history as well as it's way to unify my town. I hope to start a petition or some way of starting the idea of a bridge to fix the missing link of The Johnson Trolley Line Trail.

While this trail is recently new, there are many improvements that would help with the aesthetics and usability. Most of the trail passes through people's backyards, and houses and scenery is rather poverty-stricken. The northern end is need of connection with the southern end, and there is quite a detour in order to access both paths. A bridge over I-95 is needed to connect both trails, and is still in the works. The bridges are really the only high point, and the informational sign was very interesting to read. Generally, the surface is mainly gravel, expect for a short portion in the southern portion that is asphalt, but then turns to sidewalk and back to gravel. The gravel varies between sections, but is mostly rather large stones and very prone to flat tires for bicycles. It is also not packed down enough to make it satisfactory for biking. There were sections with significant mud and water, especially in the southern section with overgrown bushes and thorns that get in the way when biking. I wasn't even able to finish the trail, because there was a huge puddle of the water in the way! After days and days without rain!! All in all, there is a lot of improvement needed to improve this trail. I would not recommend this as a trail for biking

Trentonian Staff writer

LAWRENCE — The Johnson Trolley Line Trail will be upgraded and expanded in 2010, thanks to a $16,520 grant awarded to Lawrence Township by the Federal Highway Administration. The grant funds will permit improvements of the recreational trail from the Lawrence Township border with Ewing at the Shabakunk Creek to the Heritage Park entrance next to Eggert’s Crossing Village.

Lawrence Municipal Manager Richard Krawczun, who announced the grant earlier this week,said it will be administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Natural and Historic Resources. The grant will pay improvement of another 700 feet of the trail, the continuation of already completed sections of the path next to Johnson Avenue, and an entry path from Hazlehurst Avenue. Still visible on the ground are rails and spikes, evidence of the defunct trolley line’s history.

Trail construction will start next spring and entail site preparation, a surface capped with stone dust and a design that is compatible with the surrounding landscape and neighborhood, taking advance of nearby Heritage Park. Where feasible, the path will be eight-feet wide

Taken from "New Jersey Interurbans and Streetcar Railroads" --

"Trenton Princeton Traction Company: The Trenton Princeton Traction Company operated within the City of Trenton and would come under the control of the Reading Railroad. Passenger service on the railroad lasted until 1941 but freight service carried on into the 1970s before the route was finally abandoned."

Here is a forum post by rail-fans about the line including links to historic maps, Google-maps, Bing-maps, and photos in Photobucket.

Johnson Trolley Line Trail and Trenton-Princeton Traction Company on Stickymap -- Trolley Line Trail

Lawrence Township, NJ - Trail Guide

Regarding Fred's review.
Some people in Central New Jersey confuse the names of the Interstate Highways. When Fred write "I-195", what he means is "I-95", which is around the north of Trenton, not running East to Belmar, NJ.

"I evaluated this trail in two separate trips, since there is no starting point or ending point listed for the 2.5 miles, and the ROW is much longer than that.

There is a section in the northern part of Lawrenceville from Gordon Rd to Denow Rd (at I-195) which parallels Rte 206 (to the west of it). It varies from mown grass, packed earth, and fine gravel. It is less than a mile long and pleasant. There is a narrow open culvert, which can be stepped across, but bikes would have to go around (easy). I-195 is at ground level, so there will be no connection to the ROW on the other side, except by a long road detour.

From I-195 to Eggert Crossing Rd (just over 1 mile), 1/3 at the north end is completely overgrown, the next 1/3 is a flooded cut on the campus of Rider U. The next 1/3 is a grassy, dirt road, with a detour to ford a very shallow brook where a bridge is out.

From Eggert Crossing Rd south, the trail is wide and paved for about 1/2 mile, then grassy to packed dirt for another 1/2 mile. Here the ROW crosses a good, solid wooden bridge into the town of Ewing. It continues over a mile in Ewing and the surface is good. There is some puddle formation, but plenty of dry ""shoulders"". At Spruce St in Ewing, the ROW ran down the middle of 5 th St to Olden Ave. Here the ROW disappears into brush in a used car lot.

The better sections are not bad, but the middle is the pits! It would help if the town would define it's official route!

Rates 1 4 out of 10!


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