"Following The Lenape Trail
The Essex County Linear Park, the 1890 Trail and the West Essex Bikeway all occupy the same space. One path, three names. The Lenape Trail starts in a different place, but eventually joins the other three. One path, four names. All these trails, which follow Erie Lackawana railroad bed, are interrupted at the Peckman River where fences block a railroad trestle considered too dangerous to cross.
The Cedar Grove Open Space Trust Fund Committee recently applied for a $125,000 state grant to repair the railroad trestle behind Community Park at Devil's Hole. If the grant is approved and the bridge made safe to cross, most of these trails would be complete from beginning to end.
The linear park follows the railroad bed for about three miles from the Little Falls border through Cedar Grove to Arnold Way in Verona. The county bought the park in 1985; about 10 years after the last train came through.
The Lenape Trail begins in downtown Newark and rambles for about 30 miles in Essex County until it ends in Millburn. The trail is not complete, but sections run through county and municipal parks, PSE&G right of ways, municipal reservoir property, private land and sidewalks.
Cedar Grove Environmental Commission member Charles Wilson helps maintain the Lenape Trail. ""A connected network of trails encourages healthful recreation,"" he said in a phone interview earlier this week. He added that well maintained trails could reduce the need to drive to get to the center of town.
The trail is marked with yellow blazes, and should be fairly easy to find and follow. Two blazes indicate a turn; the top blaze gives the direction. Three blazes indicate the beginning or end of a trail.
Locally, The Lenape Trail- named after the Leni Lenape Indians who lived in this part of the country can be entered at Durrell St. or Fairview Ave. in Verona. At this point, the trail follows the railroad bed northeast through the Essex County Hospital Center into Cedar Grove. The path crosses Pompton Ave. on a steel bridge.
To avoid the Devil's Hole trestle, walkers and bicyclists should follow the blazes north along the river, over a pedestrian bridge and through Community Park to pick up the trail at the railroad bed.
About 500 feet after crossing Bowden Rd., the trail turns right (look for the double blaze) and heads east toward Ridge Rd. After crossing Ridge Rd., the trail leads through the woods on the north end of the Newark reservoir.
Now heading south, the trail crosses Normal Ave. and cuts through Mills Reservation into Montclair.
It's a long walk. Luckily, there are several shorter branches for those who want to start small. After crossing Bowden Rd., the 1890 branch follows the railroad .bed (built in 1890) straight through, to Francisco Ave. in Little Falls. The 1775 branch begins at the colonial cemetery at Morgan's Farm. The path runs through the farm on to Old Orchard Ct., on to Little Falls Rd. and to the Community Pool road. The path then joins the railroad bed beyond the pool.
The Lenape Trail is linked to a network of New Jersey trails, including the Patriot's Path in Morris County. A proposed Liberty Water Gap Trail would cross the state from Liberty State Park in Jersey City to the Delaware Water Gap and would include most of the Lenape Trail.
Some of the information used in this article was collected by the Cedar Grove Environmental Commission.