5 Best Mountain Biking Trails in New Jersey

For anyone thinking about mountain biking in the wonderful state of New Jersey, you could not have made a better choice. Nicknamed the “Garden State” for its acres of lush greenery, New Jersey is situated in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic region of the United States, a location that offers a wide variety of terrains and excellent mountain biking courses that are specifically designed to challenge riders.

New Jersey is bordered to the north and east by the very populous state of New York, to the southwest by Delaware, to the west by Pennsylvania, and to the south and southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, where there are miles of entertaining and scenic trails along the famed New Jersey Boardwalk.

From a geographic standpoint, New Jersey is essentially divided into five distinct regions: the Gateway Region near New York’s Manhattan Island; the northeastern Skylands, a gorgeous rural and wooded area; the Jersey Shore, along the Atlantic seaboard; the Delaware Valley, which includes the southwestern counties of the state near Pennsylvania; and the Pine Barrens Region, located in New Jersey’s southern interior. This wide array of terrains and topographies makes New Jersey a paradise for mountain bikers of all ages, abilities and skill levels.

In the following article we will highlight five of New Jersey’s most popular and oft-visited mountain biking trails, and provide a brief description of each of these courses’ characteristics.

Allaire State Park

Located in the city of Howell, New Jersey, Allaire State Park is home to over 30 miles of great mountain biking trails

The Allaire State Park trail system includes courses for every level of rider. The beginner, or green dot, course is made up of wide double track with very little change in elevation. This is the perfect course for family rides with the kids and for those who’ve just been introduced to the sport of mountain biking, as there are few if any of the typical obstacles you might expect to see on more sophisticated courses.

The mostly intermediate-rated course is laid out on hard-packed single track and includes a few tough climbs, the apexes of which offer riders some beautiful views of the park below. The downhill portions of the course are fast and quite exhilarating, although there are several impediments riders will need to negotiate as they speed down these tracks. Some of these challenging obstacles include high-banked berms, switchbacks, whoop-dee-doos, jumps and quick drops, in addition to roots and some rocky terrain.

Finally, the expert skills park at Allaire State Park is intended for very seasoned riders only, and includes a fun pump track, tabletops, high jumps, and more, all designed to help improve the bike handling skills of these competitive riders.

Hartshorne Woods Park

For a relatively small state, New Jersey definitely has its fair share of great mountain biking routes, and the challenging trail system at ­­ Hartshorne Woods Park is definitely no exception.  Located in the city of Middletown, New Jersey, the park is home to some of the best-maintained courses in the state, all of which were designed with the intermediate to advanced rider in mind, giving locals in the area who are serious about the passion of mountain biking a nearby haven to practice and perfect their art.

With some grueling climbs that represent a moderate gain in elevation, the trails at Hartshorne Woods Park are a perfect spot for cyclists seeking to test and increase their bike endurance.  Of course, where there are ascents there are always downhills to accompany them, and the collection of hair raising descents at Hartshorne Woods Park do not disappoint.

As riders make their way down these slippery slopes of single track, they are guaranteed to face many of the obstacles and technical challenges that consistently lure riders to this recreational paradise; obstacles that include jagged roots of various sizes; large to medium sized boulders; daring jumps; drop offs; switchbacks and more.

All of the exciting courses at Hartshorne Woods Park are set against a beautiful backdrop of local flora and the wildlife that inhabits it, giving riders a unique and much-needed opportunity to escape the noise and pollution of the city in favor of a wooded and picturesque setting that is both glorious and serene.

Six Mile Run

Located in the wonderful town of Franklin Township, New Jersey, the park known as Six Mile Run is a well-hidden recreational pearl—a locale that offers trails for hiking, horseback riding and, most importantly, mountain biking. With over 15 miles of intermediate-rated courses, Six Mile Run is one of the most popular mountain biking regions in the state—a 3,000-acre paradise for off road cycling enthusiasts, and one that features miles of wetlands, forests, fields and farmland, all located in the Central part of New Jersey.

The trails at Six Mile Run consist of both rolling single track and wide, meandering double track. The terrain is made up of grass and dirt with some exposed rocks and roots of various sizes that collectively serve to keep riders on their toes.  At certain times of the year, mostly after period of heavy rain, riders may encounter a few shallow water crossings. The skill level for the various courses at Six Mile Run is moderate or intermediate, with just enough obstacles and hills to make it challenging for the novice to experienced rider. The easy technical sections make this a great locale in which to practice and master a variety of bike handling skills.  All trails are managed and maintained by the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association (JORBA), a local mountain biking group that promotes the sport throughout the state.

Boasting a rich cultural heritage, the Six Mile Run mountain biking park is home to a number of 18th century farmhouses, granaries and barns, structures that remind riders of the Dutch farmers who settled in this region during the 1700s. The varied habitats at the park (open field, hardwood forest and floodplain) are home to a wide assortment of plants and wildlife. Songbirds live at the edge of forest and field, while the great horned owls and hawks can be seen hunting the open fields. The wetlands are home to ducks, great blue heron and kingfishers. Other wildlife riders may encounter in the park includes woodchucks, turkey vultures, red fox and deer. 

Chimney Rock

Situated in the town of Martinsville, New Jersey, the Chimney Rock Mountain Bike Park features roughly 10 fun-filled miles of intermediate-rated trails—trails that literally offer something for every level of rider.

Also known as Washington Valley Park or simply “the Rock,” Chimney Rock boasts a relatively small network of rough and craggy trails with a number of technical trail features to keep each and every ride fun and interesting.

There are five loop trails at Chimney Rock: the Blue, Red, White, Orange and Yellow Loops.  The Blue Loop is a counterclockwise track that features a rocky descent, plenty of switchbacks, and a number of water crossings on the lower sections of the course.  The Red Loop is a 3-mile course that forms an interesting figure-eight type loop. Here riders will find a lung-burning ascent and a fast downhill with plenty of technical features such as rocks and roots.

The White Loop, also known as “Coney Island,” is a fast 2-mile course made up of cross-country-like terrain and flowing single track. The Orange Loop, measuring 2 miles in length, is mainly a connector route from the backside of the reservoir to the yellow trails. At the top of the climb, riders will want to veer to the right then make their first left. From there they will drop down to the river for more technical riding, though there is a hike-and-bike section here so riders are urged to watch out for hikers that may be crossing the trail.

Finally, the four-mile Yellow Loop features a super tough climb, after which the course morphs into fast and flowing single track terrain with a number of tough obstacles to negotiate. There is also a fun downhill on the backside of the Yellow Loop, one that will have riders reaching for their brakes on a number of occasions. 

Mountain Creek Bike Park

Located in the town of Sussex, New Jersey, the Mountain Creek Bike Park offers mountain biking cyclists miles and miles of super trails, most of which are rated intermediate to advanced in terms of their difficulty level.  Here riders will find over 40 miles of rugged terrain carved into 1,000 vertical feet of New Jersey soil, just an hour from the Big Apple (New York City). A fixture in the towns of Sussex and Vernon, Mountain Creek offers a classic East Coast riding experience with plenty of technical challenges, easy flow and features designed to keep the skills of intermediate to advanced riders sharp and honed.

In terms of sheer volume, Mountain Creek Bike Park boasts more trails than any other park in the region. The park features a combination of downhill thrills, free-ride terrain and technical cross-country trails, making it the perfect locale for anyone who enjoys spending time on their bikes. In recent years, the park has undergone an ambitious expansion and trail building program. Spearheading these efforts was the free-ride legend Jeff Lenosky, who introduced several signature features to the trail system.

Mountain Creek offers one of the longest lift-serviced riding seasons in North America with one of the most efficient mountain bike lifts (The Cabriolet Gondola) in the world. Overall, the vision of the park is to provide a world-class trail network of purposefully designed and immaculately maintained courses, complete with a great collection of natural and manmade technical features.

image credit: Flickr/Scott O’Donnell 
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