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Greg Remaud, NY/NJ Baykeeper Deputy Director’s 6 Recommendations for Scenic Bike Rides Along the Raritan Bayshore: Staff Recommendations:
We are excited to introduce a new initiative at NY/NJ Baykeeper – staff picks! Some our favorite things to explore, read, learn or taste in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary.
Our very own Deputy Director, Greg Remaud, kicks us off with his top picks for great scenic recreational bike rides near the Raritan Bayshore.
These recommendations are for safe uncongested cycling routes meant to introduce those unfamiliar with the area to some of the countless natural, cultural and historic treats found along the Raritan Bayshore. It also provides a general idea of what to expect in terms of riding lengths and conditions. These suggestions are rides in themselves, but moreover they’re starting points for greater exploration of this marvelous region. More details about each of these rides are provided in the associated websites provided.
- Henry Hudson Trail
Many folks know about Monmouth County Park’s wonderful Henry Hudson Trail (HHT) that spans the entire Bayshore. It’s a 10-ft wide macadam walking and cycling path that runs 12 miles uninterrupted from Atlantic Highlands to Keyport/Aberdeen border. Then after a gap the HHT resumes in Aberdeen for another 12 miles, mostly along Rte. 79 to its terminus in Freehold.
What may be a great surprise, however, is that along the way the HHT passes the spectacular natural splendor of the newly acquired Freneau Woods, a Monmouth County Park in Aberdeen Township. NY/NJ Baykeeper is very proud to have helped spearhead the creation of this new park in collaboration with Monmouth County, Aberdeen Township and Senator Joe Kyrillos.
- Cheesequake State Park, Old Bridge Twp.
Want a 5 miles of quiet roadway in a bucolic setting right off the Garden State Parkway, with many splendid scenic stops to explore? As long as you don’t’ mind a long incline and a couple of hills along the way then Cheesequake State Park is the place for you!
Cheesequake is a natural gem that’s as much fun as its name implies and is administered by a top-notch staff. It’s hiking trails are some of the best around.
The park’s geology is comprised of a giant basin that, unfortunately, is under constant pressure from adjacent development, and storm water from outside the park being dumped directly into the park. This has caused significant hillside erosion, trail damage and directed polluted runoff into its ecologically sensitive waterways.
Baykeeper has worked with NJDEP Parks and Forestry for twenty years to acquire “buffer” properties adjacent to the park like “School House Land,” “CNK Marsh,” and “Dock Road.”
- Port Monmouth Road in and around Port Monmouth and Belford sections of Middletown.
Monmouth County’s Waterfront Park (that includes the historic Spye House Museum) provides parking and bathrooms along the beachfront that are an ideal starting point for exploring some of the most expansive marsh views and interesting cultural history in the region.
Waterfront Park is located along Port Monmouth Road which in this area provides couple of miles of well-paved, quiet back road with wide shoulders before entering the warren of residential streets of Port Monmouth and Belford. It is also easy to add distance by accessing the nearby Henry Hudson Trail.
This ride passes by the extraordinary Pews Creek and Compton’s Creek marshes, several Bayfront parks, Pirates Cove Marina and far from cookie-cutter neighborhoods. Perhaps best of all at the eastern end of Port Monmouth Road you’ll ride back in time as you pass the nets, lobster traps, and small commercial fishing boats that operate as the Belford Seafood Coop. Two small seafood restaurants are among this fascinating living history that is rare to find.
A little east further east along the Bay (understandably tough to get to by land) is the Earle Naval Pier that houses and protects NY/NJ Baykeeper’s leading Oyster Research and Restoration Program, the progenitor of so many similar programs in the region seeking to increase habitat and improve water quality. Also, nearby is Ware Creek where NY/NJ Baykeeper partnered with the Navy and Rutgers University to create the area’s first “living shoreline.”
- Hartshorne Woods – Premier mountain biking in another splendid Monmouth County Park.
The park protects the mouth of the Navesink River, while further up the Navesink NY/NJ Baykeeper operates Monmouth County’s pump out boat to reduce fecal effluent from entering the River. Our part to address the water pollution problems, especially bacteria and pathogens, of the Navesink River. This is also where NY/NJ located one of its original oyster reefs!
- Want hills? Like to mix pleasure and pain? Then start by parking in Atlantic Highlands Municipal parking lot off of 1st The Pain: Then ride on E. Highland Ave. from town for 3 miles along the increasing elevations to Scenic Mt Mitchell Overlook. The pleasure: once you’ve climbed to Mt Mitchell you’ll have unparalled views of Sandy Hook, Raritan Bay and the NYC skyline. This is also home to the NJ Veterans and 9-11 Memorial. Extra pleasure: downhill ride back to Atlantic Highlands where there are many fantastic eateries including the Flakey Tart bakery to help you reward yourself!
Atlantic Highlands is home to a great environmental commission and Bayshore naturalist extraordinaire Joe Reynolds, Senior Naturalist with Monmouth County Parks, and who heads up the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, a group that has done so much to protect the ecology and provide great environmental education along the Bayshore.
NY/NJ Baykeeper worked closely with Atlantic Highlands to provide technical support and recommendations for the restoration of Many Minds Creek.
- Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreational Area
This is an 8.5-mile recreational trail with many amenities that winds through an area rich in scenery and history (lighthouse, Fort Hancock, and Military Gun Batteries). This is a premier place for a serious road cyclist who take advantage of the main road way, rather than the recreational trail, to do 12-mile loops or as part of longer coastal rides.
Home to our friends at the American Littoral Society, where NY/NJ Baykeeper got its start, and Clean Ocean Action. Just remember going out with the wind may be a breeze, but coming back against the wind is much tougher than Bob Segar’s song makes it sound.