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The Paulinskill Valley Trail follows a creek by the same name through a section of rural New Jersey with a strong German influence. In fact, the word kill is Dutch for “riverbed or stream channel.” German refugees from European wars settled along the Paulins Kill during the Colonial period, and their influence survives in communities along the 27-mile trail. Visitors will see plentiful wildlife, such as bear, bobcat, mink, and deer, along the path, and sightings of more than 100 species of birds have been documented. Fishing is also available in the Paulins Kill.
The New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway laid tracks down the valley between Kittatinny Mountain and the New Jersey Highlands in 1886. Trains hauled coal from Pennsylvania and carried passengers, produce, and dairy products from the agricultural valley until hard times hit in 1962, and the railroad removed the tracks west of Sparta Junction. Used unofficially as a trail for many years, the corridor was purchased by the state in 1986 and became a state park in 1992. The remains of icehouses, creameries, and depots can be spotted from the trail.
The path runs from near the Paulins Kill confluence with the Delaware River in the west to active railroad tracks at Sparta Junction in the east. The trail’s primarily cinder surface is better suited to bikes with wide tires. Note that the tips of the trail are where you will encounter different surfaces; there is a short section (about 20 feet) of ballast at the trail’s western end, and a 0.6-mile section of dirt and grass from Sunset Inn Road to the trail’s eastern end.
Start on the west end at the Brugler Road trailhead in Knowlton Township. In 1.1 miles the trail arrives at the massive Paulinskill Viaduct, also known as the Hainesburg Trestle. Built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in 1910, the viaduct soars 115 feet above Paulins Kill and Station Road as seven arches carry it 1,100 feet across. At one time, it was the world’s largest reinforced concrete structure.
In 4 miles, you’ll arrive at Blairstown Airport, which interrupts the trail. Take Airport and Lambert Roads to resume the trail in 0.6 mile. Footbridge Park in Blairstown is 2 miles ahead, where you can find something to eat or explore the town’s historic district that features a gristmill dating to 1825. This is the last chance to stock up on trailside snacks.
Crossing the creek four times in the next 4.5 miles, the trail also passes the 400-acre White Lake Natural Resource Area. Nine miles past Blairstown, trail users descend a side path to cross West End Drive/Paulinskill Lake Road, and then go left a short distance to South Shore Terrace, where they regain the railroad grade. The trail provides an elevated view of 3-mile-long Paulinskill Lake. The path crosses Swartswood Road/County Road 622 in 2.2 miles in the Paulinskill River Wildlife Management Area.
You can access the Great Valley Trail in 0.9 mile at Plott Road, just north of Newton; it makes a 13-mile loop with the Paulinskill Valley and Sussex Branch Trails. The Paulinskill Valley Trail is also part of the September 11th National Memorial Trail that connects 9/11, Flight 93, and Pentagon Memorials.
Continuing 4.9 miles from that road crossing, you’ll intersect the Sussex Branch Trail just past Warbasse Junction Road in Lafayette Township. That trail runs 18 miles between Branchville and Allamuchy Mountain State Park (go 1 mile left on the Sussex Branch Trail to reach restaurants in Lafayette). The last 0.6 mile can be overgrown and includes stream crossings on narrow footbridges. The trail ends at an active rail corridor with no public road access.
To reach the western trailhead on Brugler Road from I-80, take Exit 4C-A or 4C, and merge onto NJ 94 N. Go 1.3 miles, and turn right onto Brugler Road. Go 1.2 miles, and look for parking just past the bridge in 0.4 mile. A parking permit is required from Knowlton Township for the Station Road trailhead, but not for the Brugler Road trailhead.
To reach the eastern trailhead at Warbasse Junction Road from I-80 in Lafayette Township, take Exit 25 toward Newton. Merge onto US 206 N, go 10.9 miles, and turn left to stay on US 206/Main St. Go 1 mile, and turn left onto US 206/Spring St. Then go another 0.1 mile, and bear right onto US 206/NJ 94/Water St. Go 2.2 miles, and turn right onto NJ 94/Morris Farm Lafayette Road. Go 2 miles, and turn right onto Warbasse Junction Road. Go 0.5 mile, and look for trail parking on the right.
The trail is a bit more rugged and not as well maintained as the other NJ trails, though a hybrid bike will do the job. West of Blairstown Airport there are a few short sections where you have to get off the bike and deal with steep embankments. There are also a few weird places that seem like dead ends...you come to a road crossing and need to follow it a bit before the trail resumes on the other side. They could use a little signage in these areas...having Google Maps on my phone came in handy on a few occasions.
A good starting point for the Western section is the park at 5 Foot Bridge Lane in Blairstown, and for the Eastern area there's a small lot at 106 County Rd 519 in Newton.
Don't even think of going if it's been raining in the last few days. The last time I went there I parked at the Foot Bridge Lane lot in Blairstown and headed East...I slogged through and around mud flats for a few miles before I came to an impassable one and had to turn around. You also learn pretty quickly to be on the lookout for horse calling cards.
Other than these drawbacks it can be a nice ride...people you meet are friendly and for the most part you're away from traffic noises and off the beaten path.
People use the trail for horse back riding, not sure why the horse can't have a poop bag on them, or why riders do not have to clean it up. This trail should be for everyone. Great place to get shoes covered in horse poop and good luck on a bike you will be covered in it.
Drove all the way across the state from PGH. Went to the southern part/start of the trail. It’s a grass trail and has no parking, not even at a near by business/plaza. So we drove further north up the trail. The lowest access/parking spot was not accessible due to the bridge being closed. After that, we gave up. (Side note, if you’re not familiar with this area keep in mind that the traffic is horrific. I-80 was gridlocked in both directions (one being a toll stretch ugh) and there was no accidents. Locals said that’s the norm. It took us 35min to drive 6 miles. Then the same thing back. I would suggest avoiding the southern end of this trail, it’s a complete hot mess.
Quiet and peaceful.
We started at the Brugler entrance. It was rough going at first. Very muddy in places. We almost turned around but I am glad we continued. Turned into a really nice ride! Didn’t see another person. Beautiful!
Not much elevation change at all over the course of the 27 miles. Nice and shady most of the way. The father west you go the better the scenery becomes. If you need to stop for snacks, the trail goes very close to some stores in Blairstown. You’ll see a ton of wildlife: rabbits, white tail deer, snakes. Only downside is the trail is frequented by horses and there is a ton of excrement on the trail. Other than that, a very enjoyable ride through Sussex and Warren counties.
Rode Thursday. Better to start in from mid point city park. Blair town On both ends of trail last few miles are a bit rough. Due to recent rain a few areas were muddy. Nice ride. Nice shade. Along river and farmlands
I rode this trail near the end of May and thoroughly enjoyed the ride on my mountain bike. The trail cuts through a very small airport and passes lots of farmland. I started at Blairstown Footbridge Park and headed west to the end of the trail and back. (About 15 miles total). Heard two roosters, accidentally flushed a juvenile Bald Eagle and saw four Eastern Bluebirds too. No black bears but I did see a black squirrel! A beautiful ride!
Cars don’t have to yield to bikers and it takes a while Otis cross multiple roads.
The trail is moderately level. Some ups and downs but relatively easy. Many places are only wide enough for one bike. Some super muddy spots. Overall the trail could use some grooming and TLC.
Ive been riding this trail since the 90s. The trail is scenic in certain sections, However, Its pretty rustic & you're gonna need at least a 1.7 tire or higher.
For those of you who have the 700c tire, A 42mm or higher will get you going. After rain fall, You will encounter lots of pockets of puddles & some mud.
Lots of wildlife & on weekends you'll bump into equestrians. If you like fishing, You'll pass a few small lakes & creeks to hang out & wet your line & have lunch.
On 08/19/19 we rode a section of this trail running south from the airport to just past the viaduct. To begin with the trail was slightly difficult to locate and we ended up asking someone at the airport how to locate the trail. We were hoping to get in a 20 to 25 mile ride, but after passing under the viaduct the trail became increasingly tight (rubbing up against bushes) and muddy (large puddles of water) which caused us to turn around. When we arrived back at the airport we figured that heading north would be similar to our southerly experience so we ended our ride.
Our assessment of the section of the trail that we rode:
Narrow - We had to ride single file.
Muddy - It did look like it maybe rained the night before.
Rough - We usually average around 12 mph. On this trail we were at 8 mph.
Has potential, but needs a little TLC.
More suited for mountain bikes (or at least bikes with wider tires) than hybrids.
We are in our mid to late 50's and our home trails are the Pine Creek Trail and the Buffalo Valley Trail.
I started riding on NJ trails a few weeks ago and I had some things I liked about this trail and other things that I did not enjoy:
There's plenty of shade and it's a few degrees cooler up north than going south. There are some scenic views, for example a little water fall, body of water, areas of rock that had been blasted for the train tracks.
On the less favorable side: There are a number of times that you'll need to cross a road. Sometimes these are county roads with a lot of fast moving trucks. Be very careful! Also, there can be mud after a rain. A number of areas are very narrow and you'll encounter rocks and holes in the trail.
I did not see any animals (except for a dog).
We got to the Knowlton trailhead late in the afternoon in the rain. We were immediately greeted by a black bear. We walked back to get our bikes and walk over to the bridge to get a look at the bear who had cut into the brush toward the river. As we approached the bridge we watched a bobcat walk across the road and enter Into the woods. From the bridge we did not see the bear but watched five mergansers pass below. We decided to ride in and pass the area where the bear was. We passed close to him and he ran alongside us in the adjacent woods and down to the water. We biked fast and away but a quarter mile later another bear crossed the path. We decided to turn around and go out. We biked out and reentered the trail on station rd, a short ride brought us a red tail hawk, coopers hawk, turkey ( in a tree), and a meadowlark! Our short ride ended watching nighthawks over the trailhead. All this in an hour and a half. Amazing!
I did a 40 mile round trip on this trail. Blairstown to the Millside cafe in Lafayette via 1 mile on the Sussex branch trail from Warbasse Junction and back. It was near 90 degrees but the 90% tree canopy coverage during the ride kept it cool. There are moments of single track, wet and mild mud etc. but nothing you can't pedal through. There are two road crossing where you will have to walk or carry your bike up and down a steep grade to cross the roads, There is nice water scenery and historic rail bridges on the southern end and nice farm and rural scenery on the northern end. Porto johns and any signs of civilization are limited, so come prepared. If you like rail trail riding this is a must do!
My wife and I rode the trail today (28-Jul-2018). It had rained the day before, so the trail was a bit wet. There were muddy spots, but most of the time the trail was just a bit wet. We planned on parking near the Simply Day Spa, but realized that the access to the trail from that parking spot was impossible to access with a bike - it was steep and rocky. And of course wet. So we parked at the East Crisman Road parking, just after the single lane bridge. Next time, just park at the Footbridge Park. But once on the trail, we realized some spots were muddy but manageable. There were times when between E Crisman parking and the airport, the trail narrows and widens. Once at the Blairstown Airport, you have to use Lambert Road for a bit, then into Airport Road. From here, there are no signs to direct you to where the trail is. From there, Airport Road ends and you will see a dirt road before the gates - that's the trail. From here, the trail sort of becomes wide enough for two way bike traffic to just a patch of dirt for you tires. The trails need a lot of maintenance - a lot of low branches, some branches on the road and basically, it just needs some trees cut down. Because of the lack of maintenance and overgrowth, you can hardly see anything on either side of the trail. But it was a good ride, flat trail - my wife and I rode up to Paulinskill Viaduct. Nice structure, with all the graffiti and all.
From the early reviews, I thought this trail was too rough for my hybrid bike and, therefore, never seriously considered it. The opposite is true. The trail is well maintained and even though it is just dirt in many parts it is very smooth. There are parts that are like like wide woods road, some double track trails, and some single track sections where the grass has grown up around the trail. All of it was in excellent condition. We covered 21 miles of the trail starting at Station Road trailhead and going north from there (and then back).
A few tips:
- As mentioned below, the Brugler Road trailhead requires a permit to park and the grass has overgrown the trail for as far as we could see.
- The Station Road trailhead is a better place to start but it also requires a permit. Given that it was Labor Day, we did not even try to get one from the Municipal Building. We parked at the baseball field/park about a quarter mile south on 94 and rode in from there.
- Before getting on the northbound trail at Station, ride about 500 feet south to see the viaduct.
- There is a small cafe/restaurant at the Blairstown airport. There is also a vending machine there that had soda, water, and Gatorade. We did not see any other obvious stops for food at any of the major intersections.
- There are two bridges that are missing in the northern section. The first one took us by surprise because there is just a fence and then a big drop. You have to double-back about 200 feet and take the second dirt trail down to the road. The second one was more obvious because an old tractor is blocking the trail right near the detour.
- It had not rained several weeks prior to our ride so the trail was dry. I would imagine some parts of the trail might be muddy if there was recent rain.
- We passed a number of horseback riders on the route. There were all very courteous and appreciative of our patience before passing.
This was my one of my favorite trail rides to date. I highly recommend!
I agree with the May 2016 review. Finding the western end at Brugler Road was a chore. If you follow Brugler Road from south to north, you can spot the trail head easier. What is confusing in the trail guide, in one place it provides directions to Station Road and in another it tells you that Brugler Road is the trail end. These points are one mile apart. As far as the parking permit. We chanced on another person who told us we needed to go to the Knowlton Township Municipal building to obtain a free permit for parking at the viaduct area - several miles away but located on Rt. 94 towards Rt. 80. The permit is good for two years and was required due to vandals in the area and police control.
On May 8, 2016 at the Brugler Road trailhead we saw many no trespassing signs but not a single trail identifier sign. We couldn't even tell that spot was indeed the trail start point. We drove further to the Station Road parking area and found that this is now Permit Only parking - with a hefty fine for parking without a permit - and the signs don't say where to get a permit (and good luck with that on a Sunday anyways). We finally ended up parking at the glider airport, getting lunch there, and bicycling the trail back to the start point from there.
The trail is getting overgrown between Brugler Road and Station Road. We had to duck and weave to get through and got bogged down in mud. We've ridden a number of rail trails, but the conditions and the signage of the western end of the Paulinskill Valley made this the least welcoming trail we've seen yet.
Yesterday 7/19/15, I did a thru-hike end-to-end of this trail. I started at the Brugler Rd trail head and went North. A Garmin 62 GPS I was carrying indicated I walked a total of 28.3 miles to the Route 623 trailhead. I only made one side trip of about 100 feet into the restaurant at the airport to pick up a sandwich so this is an accurate measurement. After that it appeared to be impassable with no additional trailheads and it was obvious that the marked trail stopped at Rt 623 so I considered this to be the official end of my hike. A total of 12 hours and 10 minutes with a moving average of 2.9 mph. Having hiked most of it in sections over the years, I found it interesting to walk the whole thing as one continuous trail. The start was poorly maintained with overgrowing branches and two inches of water running down the trail. Moving through Blairstown, I was pleased to see that there was a protective walkway under the Rt 94 bridge that they are rebuilding so I didn't have to detour. Every bridge I crossed was in good condition. I was fun to follow the Paulinskill River for much of the walk and see its changing scenery. After Paulinskill Lake, the scenery was much the same. Lots of swamp. And mosquitos. Since it was 93+ degrees and I was sweating a lot, I had to reapply my bug spray frequently. I did get to see a wide variety of wildlife and fauna. Frogs, spiders, deer with fawn, and a bear that was very interested in my lunch as I was eating it! The bergamont was fragrant, filling the air with its aroma. Numerous wineberries were along the side of the trail presenting their ripe berries for the picking. I saw a few species of birds including robins, catbirds, a Great Blue Heron, grackles, and some kind of vireo. I enjoyed my walk though I would not recommend anyone try to do the whole thing in one day!
This is a great trail for beginner cross country skiing. It's really flat and goes on for miles uninterrupted. We started in Blairstown, a small town with food and gas convenient to the trail. This trail connects to the Sussex trail.
We tried this trail for a change, and because it's not far from home. Usually drive 40 minutes to the Columbia trail. This was a nice change of pace. We rode 7 miles Station Rd to Lake Paulina.
First, we started at Station Rd access- bridge off Rt 94 is out, and will be for months. Follow detour, and go around barriers-the trail access is directly next to the "out" bridge-parking for several cars here, or a short ride up by the viaduct(monsterous concrete awe inspiring "bridge" -you will go under it right before getting to trail).
Trail is pretty.Flat and easy. Much is along water. Tons of shade, deciduous trees, relatively narrow trail = very deep leaves on trail. I wouldn't use a street bike-hybrid worked well mostly. Some covered rocks, roots and ruts made this more interesting- not one for a beginner to rush through. Mile markers(some old, some re-created) let you know you are 88...87...86 miles to JC-I assume Jersey City-.Nice to remember it's a railroad bed. Pass the airport (half way point to Lk.Paulina), keep it on your direct left as you go up the airport road and turn left onto Lambert Rd for 1/8 mile, then a right back onto trail.Trail is a in a little better shape this stretch. Pass footbridge park, go under rt 94, continue on to Lake Paulina Dam/falls. Parking area, and a very pretty spot to stop for a little while before heading back. A little attention would make this trail amazing-but those same things might be what some people like about this trail making it a little more "rustic".(the roots/rocks, some poor transitions between bridge/trail and street/trail where you need to stop and walk over gully). After riding on Columbia for several years, it was nice to enjoy this trail with far fewer people- saw 6 horses maybe 10 walkers with dogs, and maybe 6-8 other bikers in the 14 miles we traveled on the peak autumn color weekend we were there. We will definitely go back to try another leg of this long trail, and will use this section again for quick rides close to home in a beautiful area.
I always prefer the more rustic trails - but this trail was barely the width of my front tire. The trail was so overgrown that there was really no view whatsoever, just jungle.
After riding about four miles I left the trail and rode the roads. Absolutely amazing ride! The views of the farms, mountains, and valleys were awesome! And I saw one car the whole time! Country lanes with amazing views. I would definitely recommend jumping off the trail and riding the country lanes!
Note that I only rode the bottom third, so maybe once you get farther north the trail is more rideable.
We've ridden the northern part of the trail from Warbasse Junction to Stillwater Rd. All under tree cover and very scenic in a woodsy way, we enjoyed the ride and will be back to do the southern section soon. Enjoyed the horse farms, even seeing horsewomen on the trail, and other very friendly trail users - bikers, runners, and walkers.
I started in Lafayette at 8 am on a gorgeous day, and biked all the way on the trail to the Columbia-Portland footbridge over the Delaware River. The trail goes through beautiful farmland and pastures, over the Paulinskill countless times, over old bridges, and through backyards at times :). It ends abruptly a little bit before the town of Columbia by the river, so I took 94 the rest of the way. Had a bagel in Pennsylvania, and came back over to NJ and headed home! About a 60 mile trip all together and worth it!
We rode the trail from the "Hyper-Humus" parking area, near Warrbasse Jct, to Blairstown's "Foot bridge park". Trail was in excellent shape! Very scenic and was mostly under the forest canopy, so you don't bake in the sun all day! Starting from the end we did, the trip was downhill (very slight)most of the way. I you're planning to ride it both ways, I would reccommend starting at the Blairstown end so your return trip is easier.If you have time, I'd also reccommend doing a loop thru Hyper-Humus as well. I beleive it is being maintained as part of kittatiny Valley State Park (Not positive, but someone is maintaining it and it is AWESOME!)
We rode some of this trail today. We originally parked at the Bruger Road end of the trail and started riding but had to turn back about 3/4 of a mile in because the trail was almost completely under water and muddy. This portion of the trail is not well maintained at all. No worries though, we simply loaded back up and drove up to Station Road where we unloaded and started riding again. This portion of the trail was outstanding. It is very picturesque and well shaded. We rode up past the airport all the way to Blairstown where we had lunch at a place called the Gourmet Gallery. The food was very good! After lunch we turned around and rode back to the truck. All in all we logged just under 14 miles. We cannot wait to see more of this great trail. We will be back!
Station Road is closed because the bridge is being repaired just off Rt. 94. We followed the detour and finally found the Trail-head, but it is overgrown and not technically accessible due to the road closure.
We then traveled to Blairstown and parked at Blairstown Footbridge Park, and road north along the Paulinskill River. The cinder/dirt pathway took us through beautiful woods and farmland. Except for a few muddy sections, the path was lovely.We stopped at Rt. 612 (8 miles) and returned. We will definitely ride more of the northern section the next time.
My 11yo son and I decided to take a late afternoon ride and found this trail a great place to go. Even though it had rained Friday morning the trail was in great shape. We rode the northern section from Lafayette to Swartzwood Lake. We met a lot of other bikers and hikers taking advantage of the great weather and trail. We will be back to finish the lower half of this trail in the near future.
I have biked this trail several times, at various starting locations.
Today, 10/4/2013 was a spectacular late summer
day that promised favorable weather for riding.
I started at the Blairstown Airport, JC 85, heading WEST. The biggest challenge was avoiding
the huge black walnuts hidden under the dense leaf pack already on the trail. My goal was to reach the Water Gap.
Only 4 miles into my ride, the mud ( hasn't rained here in two weeks) was so thick, and the overgrowth so heavy, that I turned around.
No problem! The Glider Café at the airport has
GREAT food. I felt a little self conscious walking in with my bike garb and sweat, but the locals didn't seem to mind too much.
After a nice lunch, I headed EAST for about 10 miles. Just ran out of steam, but wanted to see
Swartswood Lake, where I camped as a teenager.
Another day, perhaps.
This trail is a real gem. I plan on taking my buddies back there next Spring. When I retire
in June 2015, it will be a trail that I will frequently ride, since I only live about 45 minutes away.
The Hainsburg Viaduct is overwhelming. Was the largest concrete structure in the WORLD in 1911.
I can only imagine the trains running back in the day, and the commerce that travelled this line.
We scored with an 8 mile trip from the most western trail-head off rt 80, by Brugler Rd, east to Blairstown and back. The trail is real scenic thru corn fields and streams, a viaduct, an airport --where we watched gliders and has facilities and a restaurant-- finally Blairstown, which is a sweet little country town and serves as a perfect stopping point. Find the hidden Main street with restaurant, coffee, playhouse, bar, etc. The trail conditions are as good as they get, nearly flat and easy ride in my opinion, one of my friends has street tires and he did fine, one or two roots sticking up here and there, but otherwise smooth packed dirt and some gravel. I highly recommend this trail.
My adventurous 11 year old son and I did this trail today, from the lower trailhead to Blairstown Airport. We had a blast, but the first mile was well overgrown and muddy. We both got faces full of cobwebs and sunk in to our axles several times. After the first mile it all opened up into a great ride to the airport where we stopped for lunch and turned around. I think a better bet would be to park just a bit north of the viaduct and head in from there.
We started on the lower half of the trail and most of the ride was wooded with various terrain including a six inch path in the grass. Perhaps on the upper half (north) would be more picturesque. The trail did have potential for spectacular views of the mountain range but was totally blocked by brush and trees. A little more maintenance and this trail would be a winner.
Started biking parts of the trail in July of 2013. So far a relaxing and enjoyable ride with a lot of great scenery, many places to stop and take a break and just enjoy being outside as well as letting your mind go free and clear; but not forgetting the historical significance of the trail. Looking forward to one day biking the entire trail nonstop.
We rode this trail on 7-8-12. Starting in Newton at the trail head on Halsey rd and Rt. 519. Small parking area but enough for about 10 cars. There is a school about 1/4 mile down the rode that you could park at after hrs. This is a very nice and shady trail on hot summer days. The surface is compact gravel and was easy to ride on our hybrid bikes. There really is no need for mountian bike and the gravel and dirt combo was just fine. There are some pot hole that need to be looked out for. They come up fast but you must expect this on a trail with this surface. We rode to Stillwater which is about 13 miles south from our starting point. There is no elevation variation that we could feel. Very flat and EASY. If you are planing a longer ride keep in mind that there is no town that this trail goes through so bring your own food and water. We came perpaired on a day that was over 90 degees. This trail goes through many horse farms and that is what you will see on the trail all day long! I saw more horses then bike riders! REALLY. As a bike rider you must yield to the horse. They have the rightaway, and why not they are huge. The trail has very little rode crossing which is nice not to worry about cars. I will be riding more of this trail this summer and will post the condition of each ride.
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See below link to a guide for the new trail. I believe it's the L&ne connecting the two. I am going to attempt it tomorrow.
The trial flyer gives some good history too.
When do you find rail trails that connect and loop? Went out thinking I'd ride the Paulinskill trail from the Warbase junction to Blairstown, imagine my surprise when I got to the parking lot and saw signs for a new 13.5 mile loop trail! Wow I could not believe my luck, a new trail and one that links three trails together so you can do a loop as opposed to up and back as rail trails are by there very nature. They are calling it the "former line trail" I believe it was the North East and Lackawana rail line. I approached from the Sussex trail and when I got to the entrance of the new trail there were signs saying trail goes this way, but also no trespassing violators will be prosecuted" hopefully that sign will come down soon so as not to confuse people. This old rail line looks like it is the right of way of a Elizabethtown gas, much like the Columbia Trail. The trail is much rougher and not as even as the Paulinskill which for me made for a fun ride, not sure how kids or less experienced riders will like it, but it was by no means difficult. Such a great day for a ride, when I finished the loop I took the Sussex line trail to its start in Allamuchy a beautiful ride of 27 miles total. ( I've got a wonderful wife that dropped me off and picked me up).
This is my favorite trail to ride and hike/walk. Its just a 3 minute ride from where i live to access a trail-head. I have done all of the trail by biking it. and to a degree walking as well. the only thing that prevented me from putting all stars for the rating are the 2 things mentioned earlier, about the end points. in the east at sparta junction, it is quite over grown, but passable still. easy to walk it. the other end, after crossing under the Viaduct, and heading towards columbia, is very over grown, and a mosquito swamp. A lot of deep mud. that does indeed stink, and fester. The rest of the trail? Its fantastic. a lot to see. i keep finding things to look at and discover. animals abound. i see frequent bear, fox, and of course deer. People are polite on this trail. If you are biking this trail, just give a shout out to let others know you are approaching. Its a pet peeve of mine that more cyclist don't do this on trails. Cant wait to ride now!
While this is a scenic trail, it's not as well maintained overall (even before Irene) as the Columbia Trail. I rode the Paulinskill trail a couple of weeks ago and as the other reviewer said, it is very washed out and has many wet spots. This is especially true of the section between Fredon & Blairstown, which is the section I rode. On the Northern end, by Newton, the trail is narrow, has high weeds/grass on both sides of the trail, and no to little gravel, just dirt. The Columbia trail, on the other hand, is very well maintained with lots of gravel and wide. You don't have to move to the grass to let someone from the other direction pass.
Sat Sept 3, 2011, I rode the trail from Warbasse Junction to Portland, PA - almost 60 miles round trip. It's a bit depressing that not a single other person has posted information since my report of July 2010 - maybe no one on this site ever uses this wonderful trail.
Anyway, as of Sept 3rd the trail has sustained a lot of damage from Irene but is still open. I was bound and determined to get to Portland PA - that is, to ride the trail to the end, then take the Columbia access piece to get to Columbia NJ, then over the pedestrian bridge to PA.
The trail is suffering from washouts - the thin gravel veneer has washed off, or worse, gotten into soft piles that make it hard to bike across. Then, there must be 30 downed trees - do not underestimate the effort to over come these. Then many cuts and otherwise are covered in either water or mud.
That said, I did make the whole trail and back. The last mile to Brugler road was just horrible. About 100 feet of the trail was overgrown with huge weeds - I had to carry my bike over this section. But what waited was worse: about 200 feet of stream - the trail was completely underwater so I had to push my bike through this fecund odiferous water.
At the end - GREAT NEWS - the owner of the private road taking you to Brugler Road has remove the "Private" sign: there is a road gate on the South side, but you take the road to the West to get to Brugler. There is also a gate there but all the "Private" signs are gone!
From there road through Columbia Management Area to Rte 46, then over to PA. I rode back on Rte 94 to Station Road.
I met several groups of equestrians - had some nice chit chat with them. The trail is in much better shape the closer to Blairstown you are.
Again, this is a great trail and if you have not ridden it and you live in NJ your loss.
I rode the trail end to end in two days, July 16/17 2010. I posted previously about connecting to PA over the pedestrian bridge (designated portion of the Liberty Trail). As others have said, the trail is best maintained in the Blairstown area, and is less maintained at the fringes. That said, I loved the western most section (which ends at a private lane now) - there are some ruins and a junction with the LNE line (it's on private land unfortunately) - but I just had to get to the bitter end!
Blairstown is a great place to get lunch - across from the footbridge is a pizaa/sub place, and a German deli to the left, other side of the diner. As someone else said, there is horse plop on the trail mostly near Blairstown. The parking lot there is huge, and you see lots of horse trailers, so yeah, gets lots of horse traffic there. I did not find it overbearing and will do this trail again.
Each section - bounded by roads - seems to have a different character. I absolutely loved the look of the section between Sunset Inn Limecrest Rd to CO 623 (google maps doesn't even show this as open!). At the end of this section, at CO623, the trail apparently disappears - but there is a "Bridge Out" sign across the street. Diehards can pick the trail up there - is heavily overgrown (now) but you can make it to the Sparta Junction if you persevere (I have the thorn scratches on arms and legs to prove I made it!). Just as you get there, again, the trail seems to have ended - trees and brush blocking it. But a trail goes off to the left, and you can circumvent the trees to get to the end.
Finally, I've done the whole D&R Canal trail, and while I enjoy it, I found the Paulinskill trail a better visual experience. There are little white signs over the whole length of the trail with tidbits of info - they add a nice touch (I assume the Paulinskill Valley Trail Association did this work).
I would highly recommend this trail to anyone! If you are willing to ride a bit on roads, you could easily do Blairstown to Portland PA and back as a nice day trip!
I never did find anything online that describes the connecting information below. Suggest you also use Google maps to follow. Note the "*" - small sections on roads.
Proceeding west, the trail drops you at Station Road, and to continue you need to get to the Columbia Wildlife Area off Warrington Road. Currently there's a problem (the '*'): the trail DOES continue on towards Brugler road, but stops short - about 700 feet short (according to park official I talked with). What I heard is that the prior owner use to permit the use of a "farm lane" where the trail ends, to permit access to Brugler. The current owner does not currently permit usage (complex negotiations which may produce a nice outcome in the future). In any case, I wanted to go end to end, so I did take the last section of trail - it's not maintained (but passable) - and you end at the "farm road" with a chain across the path. Rumor has it that you will get an earful if caught on the "farm road" but the current owner. At Brugler, the farm road entrance is slapped all over with PRIVATE signs.
Thus, to continue to the Delaware, you must either:
- turn right on Station Road, proceed to Rte 94, take it west to Brugler, then right at Warrington - Columbia will be just a bit down on the left
- left on Station Road, right on Vail, right on Warrington. This router is much longer and involves climbing some large hills.
When you get to Columbia, follow the gravel road south, through a tunnel under I-80, till it ends at the top of the dam (this road was the old real bed). Proceed into the woods on a trail - about 100 feet in it apparently ends (fallen trees and heavy brush block forward movement - I tried!).
At this point, you will see a trail proceeding down off the embankment - easily bikeable - and it ends on a a lightly used double track trail. On the day I did this (7/17/10) this trail had been recently bulldozed - brush cleared and some small trees too. Continuing on, you skirt the back of a small building and exit onto the shoulder of Route 46. [I have verified with a Columbia WMA official that this trail is all within the WMA and biking is permitted!]
At this point Rte 46 is 4 lanes with a divider, but is not heavily used (so I just walked my bike across). You could go a bit south and cross where there is no divider and the road is narrower.)Once across, you can see the Delaware! Continue north on the shoulder into Columbia. I asked and was told there is no convenience store in town (there is a truck stop north of town), so took the pedestrian bridge over the Delaware into Portland PA. The first thing you see is a huge old RR Terminal building. Past that, on the left, is a diner open 7 days a week. A local told me that he thought the food was pretty good.
A gorgeous groomed trail through the woods in beautiful Sussex County. The trail is shared by walkers, joggers, dog walkers, horses and bikes. For those of you who have bikes, horse people are not put off by the bikes. If you don't let riders know you are behind them, it could prove dangerous for the bike rider. Many time people who are not from the area show up with bikes and ride quietly and quickly up behind horses. This is where a rider may become annoyed because you just put yourself in grave danger of being kicked. Horses by nature may spook and kick out if you approach too quickly, so just give us riders a heads up, we gladly will pull aside and wish you a great day!
Biked trail from Belvidere approximately 6 miles towrds Sparta. Trail was overrun by horseback riders who meandered all over trail. Had to weave around horse flop entire ride. Took 1/2 hr. to wash all flop off bike.
The smell was very unpleasing and I think there has to be some type of health issues with the amount of crap and stink on the trail. Will not ride trail again or suggest it to anyone. Rode trail on Sunday May 14,2010
Sunday I rode the Paulinskill Valley Trail (11-15/09), I started out in Blairstown, went through Hardwick Twp, and into Sussex County, New Jersey, a 26 mile round trip.
What a scenic trail, lots of old farmlands, horses everywhere on the trail, a Airport, and even a Lama farm.
I really liked this trail, it wasn't the usual fine groomed trail, in fact the first few miles was a singletrack trail cut in over time through the grass, it was more of a really riding through the woods feel to it.
Thank you to the previous poster on getting around the Airport I would have been lost.
I will definately be back to ride this trail again and again.
Check out Utube, search Dirtrider6 for a video of the trail
We rode from Footbridge Park in Blairstown to Paulinskill Lake - 20 miles round trip - on 9/5. Great day for a ride. The trail was well marked, a bit muddy, but overall one of my new favorites. Lots of horses out and while we slowed down, some riders were a bit put off. Did have to be very vigilant on part of the trail to avoid horse droppings but it did not detract from the ride. Landscape was beautiful and interesting. Definitely do this trail again and bring more friends!
July 26th, 2008
Beautiful sunny summer weather though it had rained the previous day making the very begining portion of our ride very muddy. We took several boys and 2 girls ages 11 - 15 on the trail from just North of Rt. 80 ALL the way to the end in Sparta.
Overall the trail was great! Easily found the trail head west of Blairstown, started down what is obviously not a much traveled or maintained section of the trail as it was overgrown and muddy in sections though it was very passable. This section is rather short but worth doing if just for the comparison to how well maintained the rest of the trail is and for the challange. Once we started on the well used portion of the trail we were off in a flash, passing several High School athletes running in preperation for what I assume is cross country season, about 25 young girls on bikes, dog walkers and the reminders that horses use the trail also.
As usual, I believe the boys just saw the trail as a challange to ride as fast as they can and to always be in front which by nature causes them to miss the beauty of the trail and the surrounding area they are riding through and as well getting too far ahead and needing to be reined in as ours did when everyone else stopped for a bio break in Blairstown and the front pack didn't. They had stopped at the underpass for Rt 94 about 300 yards ahead as they were instructed not to pass over or under any roads, after that the front pack was within eyesight for the rest of the day.
The rest of the trail from Blairstown into Sparta was very enjoyable with stops at the dam just beyond Blairstown, lunch under a tree along the trail on what I can only assume was someones well manacured lawn where the trail passes through it and a short break to see the dam and swimming area at Paulinskill lake. The mileage markers like (JC 72) were also a great help as it let everyone know how far we had gone and how much farther we had to go.
The only issues I would have with the trail were mentioned in precious postings but need to be reinforced.
1) The need for better markings around the airport in Blairstown. A few small well placed signes would greatly help. (For those reading this who have not done the trail, keep going straight with the airport on your left, travel up onto the road which passes the ariport again with the airport on your left and the trail will be directly in front of you).
2)The poor placement of the "Bridge Out" signs in the Stillwater area forcing us to backtrack to a safe location to travel down to the road. I mention this only as what an adult sees as a safe location to get down off the trail bed which is up about 50ft and what a young boy sees as safe are two entirely different things.
3)The "End" of the trail in Sparta. One of two things must occur, either the trail needs to truly "END" where it crosses near Randazzo Rd or someone needs to work with the town of Sparta to complete the trail as it currently just drops you off on private property near what could be a dangerous rail yard. This could easily be accomplished with the trail turning to the left along a corn field that is there and ending at the Sparta Township Maintanace Garage. This I believe would be a worth while Eagle Scout project for a boy from a Boy Scout Troop in Starta. This section of the trail is NOT well used at all, but is in my opinion one of the most beautiful sections as it passes through a natural waterway until it dead ends at the corn field and you are left to guess what to do next.
As I would rather excentuate the positive then the negative this trail is great, well maintained and well suited for the abilities and capabilities of the boys and girls in any Scout Troop and the many different types of bikes they brought along. Thank you to all that help maintain this trail and provide opportunites for our youth to see more then just the busy protions of the towns the can see through the winsheild of a car.
Saturday June 7, 2008. Started at Footbridge Park in Blairstown, and rode north, to the fourth bridge, that crosses the Paulinskill. Hot and humid, but the trail north is shaded most of the way, and usually in sight of the river. The trail is level with a few wet spots. The avoidance of horse manure is the biggest problem. The weekends see quite a bit of horse traffic in this section. A courtesy to the riders is to dismount, from your bike, and stand off trail if possible. Many of the horses encountered, are skiddish, whether being passed by runners or bike riders. A few roads are crossed, with blind curves, so walk your bike. They are country roads that are prone to speeding. This trail is truly a four season trail, and is beatiful year round.
There are places to eat in Blairstown, Stillwater, Middleville (presently under renovation), Newton, once you clean up, after your ride.
"I biked this on 08/02/07 on a fairly hot day. From Blairstown to the Red Barn the trail is in decent shape, with a few muddy spots that were easily avoided without dismounting. Then there is a section at those stables where you have to look for a single sign reading ""trail"" with an arrow. It's just a rut with high weeds on either side for at least a click. Most of the rest of the trail was good cinder or culm base. Two things that I didn't care for were the lack of notice that a bridge was out near Paulinskill Lake, making me backtrack and walking my bike down the embankment. The other mild annoyance was getting around the gates. I understand there is a reason for this, but I do not agree with poison ivy. You can't shoot the gaps very well while pedaling.
The eastern final .8 miles was way too overgrown to find, much less ride. Easier ride coming back, mostly downgrade.
parked at the footbridge park..very nicely laid out..since this was the first time..we headed east towards columbia..past the trail viaduct(sp) its downed tree laden..and the end we did not see..hiked up a hill to 94 and rode back to Hainesburg..the trail is wonderful and will return ..
"Years ago we rode our horses from Footbridge heading West and under Route 80, ending on Route 46. Returned to this section Jan 3, 2007 to find fallen trees now block the path. Perhaps the various trail users (hikers, bikers and equestrians) could have a one day work party to clear this section and network. "
"The trail is simply amazing. I've run countless miles on the trail since I was a freshman in high school. Hainesburg to Blairstown is a beautiful section with the option to stop and watch the planes fly out of the airport. The train tressels also provide a sight. Winter, spring, summer, and fall; it is well worth the trip. "
"For those interested, some fast facts on this trail's former life as a railroad:
1. The entire trail was once part of the New York, Susquehanna & Western RR. This company still exists and can be seen at the east end of the trail in Sparta Jct.
2. The Lehigh & New England RR operated trains on the portion between Hainesburg Jct (just to the west of the Paulinskill Viaduct) and Swartzwood Jct (half a mile north of Rt 622 crossing.) This RR discontinued operations in 1961.
3. NYS&W and L&NE interchanged traffic at Hainesburg Jct. There were once many tracks there and much activity.
4. When the L&NE quit running, the NYS&W lost most of the traffic on the line west of Sparta Jct. The line was abandoned between Sparta Jct and Hainesburg Jct in 1963.
5. The NYS&W and L&NE lines both ran west into Pennsylvani -- bringing coal and other products into North Jersey, New York, and New England.
6. The hamlets and villages along the PVT also provided traffic to the RR. Creameries were common as the many dairy farms sent their products to market, and received feed and other supplies. Creameries and/or feed stores stood next to the RR at Hainesburg and Blairstown. Ice was also harvested from lakes and ponds beside the line prior to refridgeration."
"This is a great trail in so many ways. Easily-located trailheads, plenty of parking, and even restrooms (if porto-potties are acceptable to you.)
I had intended to ride from Blairstown west to the end of the trail in Columbia today. I made it up to roughly half a mile past the viaduct (near the site of Hainesburg Junction.) Lots of standing water (puddles) and brush intruding on the trail swayed me to turnback.
A year and a half ago, my first visit to this trail was at the other end (Warbasse Jct-Sparta Jct), and I found that part of the trail to be in similar condition then.
Seems clear to me that the middle of the trail is the most popular, so it seems to get more attention. It is possible that I have those two things in reverse order, though.
In any event, the trail west from the footbridge in Blairstown is a mix of wide cinder/dirt path and single track, with some sections of double track, as well. The scenery is beautiful, especially if you ride at a leisurely pace and catch more details. For example, I saw a dew-covered spider web that was glistening in the morning sunshine.
As other reviewers have stated here, the trail gets a little lost at the airport. It could be marked better. When traveling west on the trail, signs say ""stay on road - .2 mile). The sign should read, ""Proceed to end of Airport Driveway"" or some such thing that plainly states the facts.
Also, the loose dirt at the end of the airport driveway needs to be improved upon. My hybrid tires did not agree with it. It looks as though some sort of grading is going on, though, so this small issue may soon be addressed.
Next ride will be Blairstown east to Rt 206. Looking forward to returning once more to PVT."
The Lehigh and New England RR had trackage rights on this trail from Hainesburg Jct. to Swartswood Jct.
"My wife and I are from Colorado and have been riding rail trails throughout New England. We rode the Paulinskill Valley trail in early September 2004.
One of our most difficult problems is finding the trailheads. This trail was no exception.
We used the Mapquest map printed from the trail web site and easily located a large trail sign on Burgler Road (Brugler Road on which map you use). The trouble was that we couldn't find the trail. We walked up and down the road for a hundred yards in each direction and saw nothing that looked like a trail. It turns out that it is an old road 50 yards from the sign that looks like a driveway with ""No Trespassing"" signs posted on each side of the drive. There is no parking in the vicinity.
We finally gave up and drove seven miles east to Blairstown's Footbridge Park. It was easy to find, had plenty of parking, a porta-potty and was a great place to start riding.
While we were getting ready to go a couple of RTC members from New Jersey told us the trail continued west to that sign that we saw, but the trail was in pretty rough shape with lots of wet, muddy spots on the trail.
We rode east and had a great ride, quiting near a stable where the trail changed into a narrow single track.
The trail passes through beautiful country, but still needs a lot of work. The signs are uninformative and the maps along the trail don't help much. We saw no mile markers that made sense. The ride is fun, but expect to be confused unless you know the territory."
We had a great ride from the footbridge park to the viaduct and back. On the way back we stopped at the restaurant at the Blairstown Airport. There was some good food at good prices and outside picnic tables where you can sit and watch the small planes and gliders take off and land. It was a perfect end to a great ride. Footbridge park is right off 94 in Blairstown. The airport is about a mile and a half south of Blairstown on the trail.
"One of NJ's best! Riding from Lafayette to Columbia and back offers an easy and scenic 50 mile round trip. The trail is easy to follow most of the way, crossing numerous roads and highways, but always pretty easy to pick up on the other side.
Watch around Blairstown, you have to ride through the airport and along the runway to continue the trail. Also, if you are hungry, grab a bite to eat at the airport restaurant!
Be courteous to riders and walkers, slow down and give them ample warning. Most people are very friendly. No trash or litter to speak of anywhere along the trail.
I'm not completely sure of the exact western terminous, but once you've passed the huge stone arch bridge in Columbia, the trail gets overgrown pretty quickly. The same thing with Sparta, that's why I recommend starting in Lafayette, either on county route 623 (Sunset Inn Road), or Warbasse Junction."
"This will be slightly long but very detailed, so please read it all. I did the whole thing.
I grew up in Northwest Jersey and this trail is a testament to the region, especially small-town life. Most of this trail is used by bikers and horses and i counted over 50 horses in a few hours, so please be courteous and shout out ahead as the trail sucks you in and creates a vacuum of quietness.
The trailhead is located off Route 94 in Sparta as you come off of Route 15 going north. Once on 94 make your first left on Warbasse Junction Road where there will be lot on your right. A map with pictures is there as well as a solar-powered bathroom. Just behind you is the Sussex County Branch of the trail that intersects the Paulinskill and goes south to Andover.
As soon as i was ready, 2 people on horse came out and got them ready for the road and we pet them. A nice experience.
The trip started out very nicely and there are a lot of trails coaxing you towards them, but don't go!!! It's easy to be tempted.
There are nice footbridges and the trail is ballast and cinder and gravel with a steep grade. I'm a road biker so this trail makes you work a little. There is a ruin of an old station house on your left in a clearing as you set out. Just ahead is a section where there are gigantic shale rocks on either side, no doubt blasted through years ago to make room for the right-of-way.
There are plenty of mile markers, including the original ones which are mini-obelisks with the number on it (distance from Jersey City). It starts at i believe mile marker 66 and ends at 88, but the trail does go to about 93-96.
There are countless little white arrows pointing to the next station/depot ahead with how many miles as well as from where you came.
One disappointment on this trail is there are no historical markers anywhere!!! I've ridden on railtrails in CT and NY and they have plenty of them, even if there aren't standing depots, the signs still tell of what was there previously.
When you are about to cross a road there will be a red access gate showing you this but sometimes there aren't and that's a problem. You can see and hear cars but a heads up would be nice.
Your first crossing will be a small road and the trail goes downhill near a red barnhouse. The second crossing is Route 206 and there's a deli nearby so pick up something to nibble on.
You will see a ruin of an old creamery on your right many miles in, just before the Stillwater Station sign as well as an old telegraph station on your left. Just after you pass the sign for Stillwater Station a yellow road sign says, ""Bridge Out"" and there's a fence. If you go up to it and further you will see an old stone part of the bridge across the road.
Instead go back and down an embankment to the main road with a dam under construction on the right. This is South Shore Terrace. Go ahead and make a left on West End Drive and a quick right on Kolhbocker Road. You can opt to climb a 30-foot embankment to the trail or take the road until it becomes an access lot and gate.
You will traverse many wooden bridges, especially the one in the photo section here, the 1925 steel trestle which is pretty. Rapids of water will run through alongside the trail further down.
There will be another Bridge Out sign later on near Route 94 so keep your eyes peeled.
I first saw this trail in the quarterly publication of Rails to Trails and they did a feature on it. The author said to go to the small town of Stillwater of 3,500 people. Follow signs to Stillwater and ride on Sussex County Route 610 West (Fredon Road) 1.5 miles to the center. There's the Stillwater Inn and Restaurant from 1820, antique stores, grist mills, old bridges, a liquor store, bank and a mechanic, but most nostalgic is the general store with a red Texaco old filler pump out front. Just across the way is an Esso pump from back in the day. Support those small towns folks and buy something.
Back to the trail and i come into Footbridge Park in Blairstown. It's named Footbridge because of one made of iron from 1893 that
stretches from the lot a few hundred feet to the main roadway, aka Route 94. There's a picnic pavilion and playground in the park.
There's a triple mileage marker there that shows the intersection of 3 railroads: 1) The current one, The New York Susquehanna and Western RR, 2) Lehigh New England RR (1880-1962) and 3) Blairstown Railroad (1877-1880). There's a small ruin of a cement platform to the left.
Back on the trail and 1.8 miles from the park it brings you onto a road. You can either take the road or a small snaky path on the left following very well placed arrows. It enters the Blairstown Airport (small) and becomes paved!!! Follow it past the administration buildings and it becomes the runway. From here, there's no access gate!!! You have to guess and it's to the left of the runway at the very end.
Again it will spit you out on a road near a business and across the way are houses and a ""Private Property"" sign and some corn fields. Confusing. I asked some neighbors and they also filled up my Camelback. The entrance is across the way to the right of the white building.
The trail has a lot of road apples, aka horse poop but it's cool temperatures and the Paulinskill River follow you for most of the way, in some cases showing rapids. The river does turn to swampy marsh as well.
You will then hear rushing water and a lot will be up ahead. To the left before the lot is a small trail going uphill and up top will be a lake and a grist mill converted to a house with water going over the small dam. Fishermen in waders were present as were trout which are stocked in the lake as well as carp.
The road eventually drops you off in Columbia on Station Road where there is a huge mammoth of a stone arch bridge some 200 feet above you and you have to arch your neck to look up at it. It looks futuristic (hard to believe) and it's covered in spray paint. I don't know if traffic goes over it though. On the left is a small trail leading you under the bridge and to the water's edge. Off station road and past that trail is the access gate.
You will come to a fork and there's a sign for the Lehigh New England RR pointing to the right. There's also a ruin of a depot and the trail goes 500 feet and is very overgrown and stops. Go back and take the left trail which is the right one. The sign is tricky.
Watch out for lots of mud and puddles here. You will see scraps of railwood along the whole trail on the sides, but here they will be laid out many in a row.
This is where the access signs and gates disappear and it's not well maintained from here on in. Don't panic. Start the trip around 12pm.
The trail spits you out on (a) Station Road (the same one?) and you will see a giant brown sign letting you know it's the Paulinskill area. There's a white arrow next to it and it says it's the ""Columbia Lake Detour"" and i think it's pointing to the road but can't tell. I opt for the small trail next to it which is very overgrown. It lets me out on a road and eventually turns into a white gravelstone access road along a body of water. I can hear cars on an expressway and it's Route 80. The road turns left and you go through an old giant pipe/tunnel and it turns right and you follow it some more. You know you are close to civilization but you aren't sure. I found a fishing family and they told me i was right. Just ahead down the lake a few hundred feet is Lake Columbia and a lakehouse on the right with a dam at the end. The road turns right and ends but becomes a trail in the woods again. Instead of going straight to a dead end, turn left down a small rocky hill. You may have to dismount a few times because there are fallen trees that stand up diagonally.
You will come out in the backyard of a house and then will hear cars and exit his driveway onto Route 46. It's very sudden. Out to the right is the on ramp to Route 80 East/West with the official entrance to Lake Columbia just before the ramp on the right. Go left and you will find a gas station for directions with a sign saying ""Delaware, 2 miles.""
You are in Columbia, a town in Knowlton Township. The Delaware is just ahead of you from the terminus and it's behind the neighbor's houses.
The trail is done and it's about 30 miles, but if you want to have someone pick you up, this part is the directions for the footbridge over the Delaware or the T.A. Truck Stop.
With the trail behind you, cross the busy roadway, over the median and ride on the shoulder for a few hundred feet, and until you pass the busy cars and ramps. This is Washington Street. Just ahead on the left is the footbridge that spans the Delaware and goes to the other side in Pennsylvania. Up the river on the left is north and you can see the famous Delware Water Gap. If you stay on Washington Street, it will curve to the right and come to a stop. Turn left on Decatur Street and go over the overpass, turning left and a quick right into the T.A. truck stop.
What an adventure.
Positives: Well maintained, great mileage markers and beautiful.
Negatives: Not enough access gates, esp at critical junctures where bridges are out and some people don't know to use common sense. You just need to have that exploratory feeling. Also, there aren't any historical markers!!! A bad negative.
Did i forget to mention the animals? I saw 6 white-spotted deer, a small fox who got scared by me and 2 bunny rabbits.
I called the Kittatinny State Park Office the other day for information and a lady told me the trail ended at the Stone Arch Bridge. At the map at the trailhead in Sparta it shows it going to the Delaware Water Gap Region."
Parts of trail are under water and very wet due to the very rainy season this spring and early June. Most of the trail is in good shape though and the parts under water are still passable.
"For my first exploration, I only went from the Columbia trailhead to Footbridge Park and back. The trail is flat and well maintained, and the scenery is pretty."
"The officers of the Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee (http://community.nj.com/cc/pvtc) would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you who took the time to write or email the superintendent of Kittatinny Valley State Park to express your concern on the condition of the trail surface in the area of Route 206 to Route 94, and Cedar Ridge Road to Henfoot Road.
Your letters and email have had success. The state has finished construction and resurfacing those areas as of July 8, 2002. This is the official reply to our latest request for a status update.
“The trail surfaces between Routes 94 and 206 and between Cedar Ridge Road and Henfoot Road have been resurfaced with stone dust, rolled and compacted. Project is completed and accepted as of 7/8/02. - Rocky”
The trail surface is now in an acceptable and safe condition for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. We are sure that over time the stone dust surface will pack as firmly as the original cinder surface, which has had many years to reach its current condition.
Thank you again for your efforts and please revisit the trail at your convenience.
The Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee"
"Regarding previous comments about the new portion of trail between Route 94 and Route 206:
Yes, the new surface is somewhat difficult to ride; it's somewhat like trying to ride in sand. But I would say don't look a gift horse in the mouth! Before the improvement this portion of the trail was absolutely impassable. In fact, I would ride Sid Taylor Road from 94 to 206 rather than use the trail. I consider this a 1000% improvement. I know it isn't the perfect surface, but it's way better than it was."
"I went on the trail for the first time in a few months this weekend (6/8/2002) and noticed that the improvements that were being made west of the Route 94 crossing have been finished. The trail is now much wider (wide enough for maintenance trucks) and has been nicely graded at the crossing to allow for easy access. However, I am a bicycle trail user as are many who use the trail. This trail was one of the best in the state, but now I'm greatly dissappointed with it. The gravel material that was used as the new surface for the trail is much too coarse and does not support bicycle tires. It is about 3/4 inch stone and is very round in its shape. When I tried to ride on it, my tires didn't ride on top of the gravel, but sank in through the round material. It was very hard to ride on this material without losing almost all forward motion and, subsequently, balance. I am most dissappointed with this improvement as, in my opinion, the trail has now been improved for the worse. I really enjoyed riding on the original coal cinder surface that existed before this improvement. It provided a firm surface with good drainage, yet offered just enough resistance that riding on it provided an excellent workout. Please don't allow any more of the trail to be improved in the way that this one was.
FROM THE TrailLink STAFF: If you are also concerned about the surface of this trail, please read the following message from the Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee.
Fellow Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee members, as you may be aware, sections of the Paulinskill Valley Trail have been under renovation since late October of last year. The sections of the trail being repaired are trail sections between Route 94 and Route 206 in Hampton Township and the section between Cedar Ridge Road, Stillwater Township and Henfoot Road, Frelinghuysen Township.
Recently several of our members, along with trail visitors, have traveled the above named sections and have found the condition of the current roadbed to be totally unacceptable and could be considered unsafe. Currently the roadbed consists of sub-base large rock which many have found to be unacceptable for horseback, cycling, and hiking.
The committee officers would like each of you to visit the trail sections mentioned, if possible, and express your individual comments of the poor roadbed condition in the form of a letter to Rocky Gott at the Kittatinny Valley State Park. You may either write Rocky a letter or use email at the address below.
Mr. Rocky Gott
Kittatinny Valley State Park
P.O. Box 621
Andover, NJ 07821
This information has also been posted in the ""News"" section of our website at http://community.nj.com/cc/pvtc?display=news. If any of you know members not having email access please advise them of the trail roadbed status and the need to contact KVSP of your dissatisfaction. We are hoping with enough letters of dissatisfaction the state will take the necessary steps to return the trail roadbed to a more safe and acceptable condition.
"“Save the best for last” is the motto of many, and this was certainly the best of the three Paulinskill Valley Trail segments I’ve now had the opportunity to travel on by mountain bike.
I first reviewed the Sparta Junction to Swartswood Station segment. My next trip report covered the route between Swartswood Station and Marksboro. And this account details my journey along the Marksboro to Columbia sector.
I parked at Footbridge Park in Blairstown (plenty of secure parking is available here) and first headed northeast to Spring Valley Road in Marksboro. There are three expertly restored bridge structures along this route and a very nicely cleared, dry, hard-packed, double tracked right-of-way. The scenery between Blairstown and Marksboro is wonderful. The Paulinskill River is the most prominent backdrop; it was fishing season so I encountered many individuals wading in the river with their fishing poles in hand. There were also many lovely homes backing up to the river. Occasionally a dog would run down to the river’s edge and bark as I peddled by.
After arriving at Marksboro, I then double backed and headed southeast to the Columbia trailhead. Passing by Footbridge Park in Blairstown I noticed the availability of a portable toilet and many places to sit and relax in this very nicely laid-out park. The park gets its name from a long footbridge that spans a pond there. The trail passes a recycling center, municipal public works storage yard, and athletic field complex before reaching a street crossing directly in front of Blairstown Airport.
There is a short on-road segment of the trail here and then trail markers will direct you into the airport itself. Yes, I actually got a chance to bike adjacent to an airport runway as I made my way through the airport property on the trail itself. How many rail trails could there be that wind their way through an airport?
Trail conditions between the airport and Vail were excellent. There was not much to see but the backs of homes and some wetlands, however it was nonetheless a nice ride. The hamlet of Vail was very quaint. There was a nice town center and some lovely old homes. Beyond Vail the trail was overgrown in some spots (but completely passable), most likely due to the limited number of trail users that travel beyond the airport. Scenery from Vail to Columbia consisted mainly of heavily wooded areas and some farmland.
The trail ends rather abruptly on Brugler Road in Columbia. You’ll know you’ve reached the end when you see a large brown sign with white lettering that reads “Paulinskill Valley Trail.” You can continue down Brugler Road, make a right turn onto Warrington Road and then a left onto a right-of-way that will lead you underneath Interstate Route 80. I stopped along side of a dam in the Paulinskill because the right-of-way/trail beyond this point was littered with downed trees.
The Marksboro to Columbia section was the driest and most bicycle worthy of the three segments I chose to break the Paulinskill Valley Trail into. You will certainly enjoy this trail regardless of your biking expertise."
"A mountain bike was again my conveyance of choice for travel along the Paulinskill Valley Trail, this time for the 8.6-mile long section between Marksboro and Swartswood Station.
I began my trip from a small trail user parking lot on Spring Valley Road in Marksboro (just north of Route 94) and headed north/east to Route 622 in Swartswood. Surface conditions and scenery along this trail segment were mixed.
I ran into loads of standing and running water between the Paulinskill River and Stillwater Road; be prepared to get wet if you’re on a bike. Between Henfoot Road and Cedar Ridge Road the State of NJ has deployed a thick layer of gravel that makes biking and walking extremely difficult. It appears as though they are trying to alleviate a chronic wash out area along this section. But even with the gravel in place there was loads of standing water in one spot.
Between Cedar Ridge Road and Swartswood Station surface conditions and scenery were the best. You’ll be traveling on a very nice hard-packed surface of fine ballast and be looking at rolling farmland, charming horse stables, and the beautiful residential community surrounding the Paulinskill Lake.
If your time is not limited you might wish to explore the State of NJ Wildlife Management Area (WMA) immediately adjacent to Swartswood Station and Swartswood Junction. There’s a short segment of the old Lehigh and New England Railroad right-of-way within the WMA’s borders that I’m sure you’ll find very interesting (in some aspects it has more appeal than the Paulinskill Valley Trail itself).
I will travel the Paulinskill Valley Trail from Columbia to Marksboro within the next week or two and let you know what I found along this 10.5-mile long segment."
"I traveled via mountain bike along this eight-mile long section of the Paulinskill Valley Trail after finishing up a short trip between Lafayette and Branchville on the intersecting Sussex Branch Trail.
I selected the Warbasse Junction trailhead as my starting point. This trailhead has a sizeable parking lot, a glass enclosed bulletin board with trail information and maps, and a permanent restroom facility. Warbasse Junction is located on Route 663 just south of Route 94 in Lafayette.
Trail surface conditions from Warbasse Junction to Sparta Junction were excellent. The surface was firmly packed and completely dry. Foliage along the right-of-way was sufficiently cut back between the parking lot and Route 623. However, between Route 623 and Sparta Junction there was just enough room to get one bicycle/person through at a time. Also, disregard the two “Bridge Out” signs between Route 623 and Sparta Junction; both bridges are in place and passable.
Surface conditions between Warbasse Junction and Swartswood Station (Route 622) varied. I encountered quite a bit of standing and running water (and mud) in the trail just west of Route 519. On the day of my ride I passed by a group of construction workers who were busy finishing up a project which involved rerouting, re-grading, and resurfacing the trail in the vicinity of Route 94. The surface through this area now consists of hard-packed broken rock.
On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate the scenery along this eight-mile stretch as a “5.” There really wasn’t too much to see but there were no junkyards or barbwire fenced industrial complexes either. Mostly heavily wooded areas and wetlands with an occasional glimpse of a commercial structure or farmhouse.
I will travel along the remaining portions of this trail within the next week or two and let you know what I found west and south of Swartswood Station.
" This is my favorite rail trail in New Jersey! It is long (about 27 miles), complete (no breaks except for a few up-and-downs around dismantled overpasses), very scenic, and, except for the opening weekend of trout season, uncrowded. The southern half of the trail tracks the Paulinskill River, passing farmlands and very small towns. Near the southern end, the Paulinskill viaduct of the Lackawanna, a remarkable structure, passes overhead.
Approaching Blairstown, a minor detour is necessary to avoid the runway of the airport, which has glider flights available. In Blairstown, there is a footbridge in a town park over the river.
At Swartswood Junction, the old Lehigh and New England ROW goes left along the river, while the Paulinskill Valley Trail goes right and gradually ascends the hill leaving the river. It passes through a number of deep cuts and crosses Rte 206 and Rte 94, crossing it's namesake river again at Warbasse. Here it crosses the Sussex Branch Trail. From here it runs along the Morris Farm Lafayette Stream and ends at the active rail line at Sparta Junction.
Parking is available at or near most road crossings. Milepost signs have been restored, and little wooden mileage signs give distances in both directions to noteworthy destinations.
A very deep cut just west of Rte 94 has been undergoing renovation. It was previously impassable due to standing water, trash and overgrowth. It is now useable, avoiding a scramble up the side of the cut.
The surface is always good, the bridges are substantial, and hiking, biking, and horseback riding are very popular. The route is always shaded and avoids populated areas.
This is a gem in New Jersey's rail trail portfolio!
Rates a 9 out of 10!
"I do this run from Sparta to Cloumbia all the time. There is not a lot of traffic on the trail, very shady and flat you can cruise in your low 20s without much effort. You have great views along the trail and places to get a snack in Sparta, Newton and Blairstown. You follow a small river for a good ways around Blairstown, great for fishing. A must in Northern Jersey."
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