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NJ - D&R Canal, Main section New Brunswick to E. Millstone ride report

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NJ - D&R Canal, Main section New Brunswick to E. Millstone ride report

Old 10-07-13, 02:17 PM
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kingsqueak
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NJ - D&R Canal, Main section New Brunswick to E. Millstone ride report

Just did my first ride on the D&R, the main section. Rode from the trail head at Georges St in New Brunswick to I think it was the crossing at East Millstone First Aid Squad (I'm not really from the area.) and back.

The loop down and back was about 22 miles.

Fast rolling hardpack dirt with a crushed stone dust cap on it. Was damp out but not super wet, made it slightly slick but fast rolling. Pretty smooth surface for the most part. The red/pink clay dust will gunk up your bike...plan on washing it.

I'm a fitness/explorer rider, getting back into shape and this sort of ride is just perfect for me, though likely not very exciting for MTB riders.

The scenery is woods and the canal and waterway on each side. It's nicely shaded most of the way which would be great on hot days I'm sure. It was like London fog yesterday though, still a nice day for a ride. I liked that you really have no idea where you are compared to what it looks like beyond the trail. Feels like the middle of PA.

A couple notes.

The trailhead at New Brunswick George St. has no official parking. Also the entry point there has a sort of spillway with water on it and unfastened large rocks that you basically have to walk over, carrying your bike. The rocks wobble around as you walk on them. It's not the ideal place to put-in but I had a friend with me who lives just a few blocks up from that entry point. Be careful if you do this...particularly in cleated shoes...and it's even more "exciting" after you have been riding a few hours and have to get back over it again.

Aside from that, the trail crosses a few transition points that cross the tops of spillway structures. A couple of them are cemented stone that is a bit like riding cobblestones. Not particularly hard and my advice is to keep a loose grip and pedal fast...they are a lot more bearable at say 15+mph on a driving sprint than chuddering over them slowly.

One spot of note is signed "get off your bike" and it's a steep drop over rutted dirt with loose blue stone on it on each side. If you aren't comfortable standing up and letting your bike slide around under you...heed the sign. I'm in terrible shape and still managed to ride it o.k. but just FYI. I'm a bit used to dual-sport motorcycle riding in sand and gravel so it wasn't the end of the world...but I was glad for flat bars vs drops for those few moments.

I was running 700c wheels with 40mm Schwalbe Mondials on my Ogre, which is almost a perfect combination. Much skinnier I think would be annoyingly slippery in spots, though perfectly doable. Much fatter...fine, but likely not what I would say is needed. I think the trail is perfect for cross tires, like 35mm+ if you have the choice. Not sure I'd want to ride those blue stone chutes on anything skinnier, but my skills suck.

The general trail conditions, transition sections aside and barring traffic of others, you can maintain some good speed if you are up to it. Smooth and very flat.

Definitely worth checking out and my goal next year is to do it end to end to Trenton and back which I think is about 70 miles or so. I think my current stamina limit is likely 30-40 miles...figuring in a drive home at the end. I also want to check out the feeder side of the trail next.
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Old 10-07-13, 03:24 PM
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Great ride report. The other leg of the canal that follows the Delaware river is nice too. Lamberville, New Hope and Frenchtown are all nice places to stop.

I would skip the Trenton section. I did it earlier this year and I didn't feel particularly welcome or safe and I am not timid.

A nice ride is a loop linking the eastern and western parts of the canal. Something like this...

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3305723

You almost can't go wrong riding through that area.

Also nice is to ride down the eastern section of the canal and ride into Princeton for lunch or a coffee break.
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Old 10-07-13, 04:31 PM
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Yeah a run from lambertville to frenchtown and back is a plan in waiting. Food on both ends...coincidence? I think it is about 32mi which would be a minor milestone to reach too.
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Old 10-07-13, 05:06 PM
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I often ride this trail between Frenchtown on the feeder down around Trenton and up into south Brunswick. The feeder trail is generally much drier after a rain but I do enjoy both sections
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Old 10-10-13, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by kingsqueak View Post
Yeah a run from lambertville to frenchtown and back is a plan in waiting. Food on both ends...coincidence? I think it is about 32mi which would be a minor milestone to reach too.

34 I believe. Stop[ in at Bull's Island Recreation Area, which is right along the trail. Water and nice bathrooms. There is also a pedestrian bridge to PA that affords a nice view of the river. In dry conditions, 40c tires are more than enough. I have ridden it on my road bike with 23c tires. The surface is actually better than parts of the shoulder of SR 29 above Bull's Island, which can have sharp pebbles and other debris.
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Old 10-17-13, 08:10 AM
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The section from Millstone to Rocky Hill (I think) is really nice.

I remember riding it very soon after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. It was a wreck. My date and I got mud all over our bodies, which was fun and funny.
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Old 05-23-19, 08:41 AM
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Anyone been on this lately? Going to check out the New Brunswick end with friends more familiar with it this weekend, but will probably only do a short ride up to Bound Brook and back.

Probably getting met at the train in the interest of time, but if trying to get to (or back from) the trailhead on my own, any guesses on crossing north of the river and going through Johnson Park on what is allegedly the East Coast Greenway? vs. going up something like College Ave through the Rutgers campus and then trying to get to the Landing Lane bridge? George Street does not look enticing, but Buccleuch park seems to have paths that cover most of it, and it kind of looks like one can get from one of them into the parking lot of a building and then out to the intersection at the south end of the bridge.

Also kind of tempted by the idea of riding further to Princeton (perhaps another time) and then trying to either get on the dinky (are bikes allowed?) or take something like Washington Rd which seems to have a decent shoulder down to Princeton Junction. Or just ride the reverse leg back to New Brunswick, but knowing the bail-out options makes round trips more attemptable.

Last edited by UniChris; 05-23-19 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 05-23-19, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
get on the dinky (are bikes allowed?)
Here is the NJT bike rules page:

New Jersey Transit

Interesting that they don't mention the Dinky. Perhaps it's considered part of the Northeast Corridor. I would check the PDF schedule to see if it's listed there and look for the bicycle icon.

Also...Check to see if the Dinky is running again. IIRC, it was out of service for the installation of Positive Train Control. However, I think I heard that the work was supposed to complete by now.
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Old 05-23-19, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Also...Check to see if the Dinky is running again. IIRC, it was out of service for the installation of Positive Train Control. However, I think I heard that the work was supposed to complete by now.
It was supposed to resume no later than tomorrow. It actually resumed two weeks ago. Yes, an infrastructure project actually finished ahead of deadline(!)

The more I think about it, if I do the longer ride I'll just plan it with time to ride back. This weekend is going to be a short preview, my "real" ride plans are for Monday.
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Old 05-24-19, 09:23 AM
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Now that this thread is revived, I notice that the thread's originator, @kingsqueak, is a former cow-orker of mine. Not sure if he'll get this message. But hello anyway.
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Old 05-25-19, 05:36 PM
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Just had a great ride on the D&R in a mixed group - two 36" unicycles and one rigid frame mountain bike

The hard-packed red surface was mostly in good shape - it rained a little bit overnight so there were a few puddles but mostly easy to navigate around.

Last edited by UniChris; 05-25-19 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 05-25-19, 05:45 PM
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Rideability of the spillways varied, some more than others


The canal locks have been converted to regulating dams.

Overall we did a bit over ten miles from Landing Lane in Johnson Park out to Colonial Park and then back again to make a group ride in the low 20's.

Afterward I followed the greenway a mile and a half east through Johnson Park to the Raritan Ave bridge and walked that a few blocks back to the NJT station.

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Old 05-28-19, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
It was supposed to resume no later than tomorrow. It actually resumed two weeks ago. Yes, an infrastructure project actually finished ahead of deadline(!)
Installing PTC in a PITA. NJT shut down the Dinky and the very popular Philly to Atlantic City service so it could install and test PTC without the constant disruption of speeding trains. The goal was to reduce risk, save a few bucks and speed up the work.
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