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It’s hard to believe that a noisy locomotive once ran through here, given that stillness is a defining characteristic of the Middlesex Greenway. Even when people pour onto the trail from the adjacent neighborhoods, it remains a tranquil escape shielded from the everyday hum of the suburbs and the hubbub of the industries nearby.
The rail-trail sits on a corridor that once held trains moving anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. The Easton and Amboy Railroad was a subsidiary of the Lehigh Valley Railroad; it was active in some form or other from 1875 through 1991. When it ceased operations, some motivated citizens immediately recognized the potential of having a corridor that cut close to their neighborhoods. Twenty years of effort later, the rail-trail finally opened in 2012.
The Middlesex Greenway is a great trail for a leisurely stroll with a dog (leashed, of course), an evening jog, or a bike ride. Because of its location, it’s a natural draw for families, and you will see users of all ages enjoying a shady trip through history. Currently, the trail runs from Metuchen through Edison to Woodbridge.
A good place to begin your journey is the Metuchen trailhead on Middlesex Avenue, with parking and a trail kiosk. A gateway with the trail’s name signifies its start, and you will see this motif replicated at other trail entry points; seven of these entrances are wheelchair accessible. The path stretches out before you flat and wide, hemmed in by native plantings and giant trees. Mile-marker posts whiz by every 0.25 mile, along with a sign to let you know which of the three municipalities you are in at that time. Colorful and detailed interpretative signage can also be found strategically placed at access points, narrating the history of the railroad and the region.
In Edison, about 1 mile in, you may spot the logo of the East Coast Greenway; this portion of the trail is part of that developing effort to connect trails on a 3,000-mile route between Maine and Florida. Edison is also where you’ll find the lone pedestrian bridge on the trail; the rest of the crossings are either underneath vehicular traffic or at street level. (The Woodbridge Avenue crossing is the widest of the on-road crossings, so approach with caution.) The bridge arches over US 1 before depositing you safely on the other side of the highway.
In Woodbridge, more than 2.5 miles into your journey, you will see on your right side a redbrick wall with faded lettering looming above the bushes. A historical marker reveals this to be the old Fords Porcelain Works building, constructed in 1906. This factory produced bathroom fixtures, including sinks, bathtubs, and toilets, but shut down in the 1960s. Although the trail dead-ends unceremoniously shortly thereafter, you can always turn right back around and disappear into the shady coolness of the greenway.
To reach the western end of the trail in Metuchen from I-287 S, take Exit 3 for New Durham Road/County Road 501 toward New Durham/Metuchen. Turn left onto New Durham Road/CR 501, and stay on it 1.3 miles, then turn left onto Middlesex Ave. The Greenway Park parking lot will be on your right. From I-287 N, take Exit 2A, and merge onto NJ 27 N/Essex Ave. In 400 feet, turn left onto Bridge St. In 0.1 mile turn right onto Middlesex Ave., and go 0.4 mile to Greenway Park.
Although there is no trailhead for the eastern end of the trail in Woodbridge, you can park at Dudash Park in Edison. From I-287 S, take Exit 1B for US 1 S toward CR 531/Trenton. Merge onto Main St./CR 531, heading south, and stay on it 0.8 mile. Make a left onto Woodbridge Ave., and follow it 1.4 miles. Use the right lane to take the I-95/I-287/New Jersey Turnpike ramp. Keep right, and then turn right onto May St. Dudash Park will be on the left in 0.4 mile. Once you have parked, follow the park pathway to the Middlesex Greenway entrance. From I-95, take Exit 10 for NJ 440 E, and keep left at the fork, then right, following signs for I-287 N/CR 514 E. Turn right onto May St., and go 0.4 mile to Dudash Park.
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