If you’re one of the many people who are counting steps these days, consider a walk that will take you down a beautiful path full of history. With access points all along its 70 miles, the D & R Canal State Park in New Jersey is a terrific destination any time of the year for outdoor enjoyment.
A little background. The Delaware River and Raritan Rivers are the two main waterways that run through New Jersey. When the canal was being planned, cities selected as the canal’s two terminuses were Bordentown on the Delaware River and New Brunswick on the Raritan River. Construction of the D&R Canal began in 1831 and the canal system was completed in 1834 at an estimated cost of $2,830,000.
The D & R Canal was once an essential link between New York City and Philadelphia for supplying goods. It was well used for transportation, canal boats, mule drawn crafts, steam powered vessels, and pleasure boats.
Today, it serves as a linear state park with a continuous flat path of crushed and packed stone that is enjoyed by bicyclists, runners, hikers, birdwatchers, and history enthusiasts. The park’s trail system was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1992. It is a part of the East Coast Greenway that is the longest hiking and biking route connecting Maine to Florida.
Almost 36 miles of the main canal and 22 miles of the feeder canal still exist, with historic structures standing along the way. As you venture along the paths, you can see wood bridges, lock and bridge tender houses, locks, cobblestone spillways, stone-arched culverts, and the towpath.
The feeder canal meanders through charming New Jersey towns along the Delaware River that include Stockton, Lambertville and Titusville. It flows past Washington Crossing State Park, where George Washington crossed the Delaware in 1776, and then the canal courses south into Trenton. The main canal passes through the heart of New Jersey from Bordentown to Trenton and north into Lawrenceville, past the Port Mercer bridge tender house, along the outskirts of Princeton, then through the villages of Kingston, Griggstown, Blackwells Mills, and East Millstone ending at Landing Lane in New Brunswick.
Access points for the D & R Canal State Park can be found all along its route and many have ample parking for guests. Bring a camera, friends and family. Get outside and enjoy a walk along the D & R Canal State Park. It’s a gem in the Garden State.
For more information on the D & R Canal State Park, access points, recreation, and areas of interest along the canal, please visit the website.
Photos by Marina P. Kennedy