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The Best of the Delaware Canals Washington Crossing Bike Tour - Lambertville to New Hope

Delaware River (NJ) / Lehigh Valley (PA)

Historic / Family Friendly
Bike Tour Description

Location:
NJ: Lambertville to Washington Crossing State Park. Hunterdon, Mercer Counties.

PA: Washington Crossing Historic Park to New Hope. Bucks County.

Total Bike Tour Length: 15 mile loop with 7+ miles in New Jersey and about 7 miles in Pennsylvania.

Trail Surface:: Fine textured crushed stone in NJ. Crushed stone, dirt in PA.

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Trail Use: bicycling, mountain biking, hiking, trail running, horseback riding, cross country skiing

Caution: Shared use. No motorized vehicles permitted. Use caution at road crossings. Can be muddy in sections. Weekend use is very high, arrive early to park.

Some sections of the trail and recreation areas may be closed due to flood damge. Plan ahead and check on trail status.

 

Note: This trail map is a graphical representation designed for general reference purposes only. Read Full Disclaimer.


General Description

Everybody, from history enthusiasts to families with kids will enjoy this bike tour that travels along the Delaware River in two states and features two renowned state historic parks, two canal towpath trails, nature preserves and historic towns connected by picturesque bridges. Every season offers a different perspective to this classic 15 mile round trip bike tour.

Starting out on the D&R Canal State Park Feeder Trail at the Canal Road trailhead in Lambertville, New Jersey, you'll bike south on the canal towpath / former railbed of the Belvedere and Delaware Railroad for 7 miles to Washington Crossing State Park. You'll cross the Delaware River via a walkway that travels over a charismatic iron truss bridge to Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania. Enjoy the amazing valley and river views. It's a short ride through the park to the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Trail that runs along the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River.

To complete the bike tour loop, you'll bicycle north on the Delaware Canal Towpath Trail for about 7 miles to New Hope, PA where you will re-cross the Delaware River via the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge into Lambertville and ride back to your starting point.

The D&R Canal Feeder Trail in NJ and the Delaware Canal Trail in PA both provide a valuable wildlife corridor. On our ride in July, the summer wildflowers were in full bloom and the butterflies were going bonkers over the Bee Balm. We almost missed the great blue heron standing quietly in the marsh near the start of this trail segment. A sampling of some of the wildlife the observant rider may see on the bike tour includes whitetail deer, river otter, fox, beaver, various turtle species, wild turkey, ducks, geese, pheasant, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, egret, great blue heron, ruby-throated hummingbird and numerous songbirds.

For additional biking options see our articles on the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail, D&R Canal State Park Feeder Trail, Delaware Canal State Park Trail and the Washington Crossing State Park Trails

The Best Of The Delaware Canals Bike Tour : Lambertville To New Hope

New Jersey: Lambertville to Washington Crossing Bridge

The first stretch of the Lambertville to New Hope bike tour takes you along the D&R Canal State Park Feeder Trail to Washington Crossing State Park. In New Jersey, the trail travels on the canal towpath / former railbed of the Belvedere and Delaware Railroad. the rail trail is level and wide with a surface of fine crushed stone.  River Road, across the canal, is always a constant companion. The wide and deep canal along this stretch is a popular kayaking and canoeing route.

Mile 0.0: The parking area at the end of Mt. Hope Street (Cavallo Park) is adjacent to the Lambertville D&R Canal State Park Trail Trailhead.  The shops on this street occupy the former Belvedere and Delaware Lambertville Railroad shops. Trains were repaired and built here from 1864-1872.

The start of our Delaware Canals Washington Crossing Bike Tour was like the beginning of one of our favorite Charles Dickens novels; A Tale Of Two Canals, Uh - I mean Cities. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

There are no restrooms or drinking water at this trailhead even though a small community park (Cavallo Park) borders the lot. When we arrived at around 10:00 AM on a sweltering summer Sunday, all the shops were closed except for a beauty salon. Besides us, there were just a few cars and 2 other people in the lot.  While we were getting ready to begin our bike ride, a young woman came out of the salon waving a giant sign inscribed "NO RESTROOMS HERE!" in red letters and made sure we all saw it. Gee, what a welcome to the area!

By the time we arrived back at the lot at the end of our ride she had put a desk across the salon door and was sitting at it facing the lot. The sign was propped up on the desk. We had run out of water a short while ago, and she coldly refused to let us have a glass to tide us over till we made it into town. It was 95 degrees! She obviously was having a bad hair day.

If you are biking with kids, or are a senior citizen this may be an issue, especially at the end of your ride. However, you will be able to find public restrooms, water, picnic and other facilities at Washington Crossing State Park around the bike tour's midpoint. In retrospect, we wish we had kept a cache of water in the car as well.

The trailhead, marked by a sign, is located at the far end of the parking lot. Turn left onto the D&R Feeder Trail and pedal across the picturesque, arched wooden bridge and head south. On our ride there were floating white swans, shaded by trees on the far side of the bridge.

Mile 0.4: The trail crosses another bridge and switches to the west side of the canal. There are expansive views of the spillway and dam on the Delaware River.

Mile 1.2: Trail access point and bridge at Old River Rd.

Mile 5.6: Trail access point and bridge at River Drive (past Fiddler’s Creek Rd.) This is a picturesque section of the trail with a wide grassy bank and woods to your right. Dense foliage and overhanging trees across the canal block the view of the road. Kayakers can often be seen paddling this stretch of canal above and below the bridge.

Mile 6.2: Trail access point and bridge at Church St. Turn right onto Church St. and pass through the historic district of Titusville. You can turn left onto River Dr. and continue to ride along the Delaware River through the village or return to the Canal towpath and head south. The ride along River Dr. is very pleasant with beautiful views of the river on your right and homes to your left. At Grant St. turn left to return to the trail.

Mile 6.9: Grant St. Access. Shortly you will enter the picnic and parking area for Washington Crossing State Park.

Mile 7.4: Reach Washington Crossing-Pennington Rd. Turn left here, cross the canal and take the ramp on your left over River Rd. (Rt. 29) to Washington Crossing State Park. Exiting the ramp to the left will take you to an overlook with a large sign marking the view of the exact site where Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware on their way to attack the Hessians stationed at Trenton. The unpaved trails in this section of the park are for hiking, but if you continue left you can ride a short distance to the paved park loop road to explore the park. There are also 5 miles of multi-use doubletrack and singletrack trails designated for mountain biking.

For more information about biking in this unique state park, see Washington Crossing State Park Trails.

Return to Washington Crossing-Pennington Rd. and turn right to cross the Delaware River via the Washington Crossing Bridge (Rt. 532) into Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: Delaware Canal State Park Trail to New Hope

On the Pennsylvania side of the river, the trail experience is more intimate. The canal is narrow with denser foliage along its banks, woodlands and greater opportunity for wildlife sightings.  The canal towpath trail is rougher on this side with a surface that varies from wide crushed stone to dirt and grassy double track.  Route 32 may parallel the trail, but until it reaches New Hope, it is far enough away to not be visible.

Mile 0.0: The stone building on your right immediately after crossing the bridge is the 18th century McConkey Ferry Inn, where General George Washington and his aides ate dinner and made plans prior to the famed Christmas Eve Delaware River Crossing during the Revolutionary War. A path on the right passes  through the McConkey Ferry section of Washington Crossing Historic Park. A short self-guided walking tour (walk with your bike) will take you to historic structures, exhibits and the Park Visitor Center.

Return to Route 532, turn right and head east.

Mile 0.5: A short ride along Rt.532 will take you to the trail access point for the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Trail on the right, just before the bridge. The ride begins on a fine, rust colored crushed stone surface. There is a lagoon on the right. Across the canal, dense foliage and trees block nearby residential neighborhoods. The narrow canal is choked with algae and reeds. For the next several miles the view to the right alternates between forest and fields. The trail also turns into a rougher dirt doubletrack with a center grass strip.

Mile 2.5: After the bridge at River Rd., the trail begins to hug the bank of the Delaware River.

Mile 4.7: Pidcock Creek enters from the left. You are now approaching the Thompson’s Mill section of Washington Crossing State Historic Park. Turn left at the paved road to visit Thompson’s Mill and the Thompson-Neely House. A paved loop road takes you through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and to Bowman’s Tower. A right turn from the trail takes you to the Revolutionary Soldiers' Graves and picnic pavilions. Continuing north on the trail, River Rd. will be on your left and the Delaware River on your right.

Mile 6.2: Reach the southern end of New Hope. You will pass through a narrow tunnel-like section with commercial structures and condos above the high cement wall at your right. The trail here is narrow and travels close to the edge of the canal, so exercise caution, especially if biking with kids! Good bike handling skills are required.

At Towpath Street you’ll have to turn north onto Main Street for a short distance. This is the main thoroughfare through town with heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Watch out for the metal drainage gratings in the road that may pose possible hazards, especially for road bikes.

Look for steps going up a grass hill on the left several blocks to the north. The steps will take you back to the trail, Lock 11 and the Locktender’s House (home of Friends of the Delaware Canal) on the right.   At Lock 11, take the time to see the exhibits and artifacts that illustrate "Life at the Lock". Learn how the locks worked and about the role of one of the country’s most important canals.

Mile 6.8: Turn right onto Bridge Street and cross the historic New Hope-Lamberville bridge back into Lambertville. Look for the trail entrance on the right and ride a short distance back to your car.


 

Directions to Trailhead

From the intersection of Bridge St. and Main St. in Lambertville, drive south on South Main St. Take the third right turn onto Mt. Hope St. and drive to the end. Park alongside Cavallo park, adjacent to the canal towpath access.

Historical Notes

The Delaware River and the towns along it's banks are rich in history, much of which has been preserved for us to explore and enjoy today. You'll find Revolutionary War sites, old mill towns and canal and railroad era artifacts. We describe many historical points of interest including Washington Crossing State Park and Washington Crossing Historical Park in the Delaware Canals Washington Crossing Bike Tour description above. 

After your bike tour, take the time to explore Lambertville and New Hope. These "sister" towns, nestled on the banks of the Delaware River, are linked by a steel truss bridge. During American Revolutionary War times these two towns were known as Coryell's Ferry for Emanuel Coryell who obtained a charter to operate a ferry crossing the Delaware River slightly south of the present Lambertville-New Hope Bridge.
He also operated a tavern and inn to accommodate travelers.

Lambertville
Lambertville in New Jersey is known as the “Antiques Capital of New Jersey”. The town retains an 18th & 19th century flavor with its tree-lined streets, Victorian homes and Federal row houses. Explore the antique stores, craft shops and art galleries. Before settling in for the night at a B&B, enjoy a meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

New Hope
New Hope in Pennsylvania is a bit more "touristy". The streets are crowded with visitors drawn to the galleries, gift & craft shops lining the streets, late night restaurants, open-air bars as well as historic locks, railroad and canal boat rides. To avoid the crowds, visit during the week to appreciate a quiet walk along the river or the many Victorian and historic houses.

More Information

Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park
145 Mapleton Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: 609-924-5705

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail

 

Delaware Canal State Park
11 Lodi Hill Road
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972-9540
Phone: 610-982-5560

Delaware Canal State Park

 

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