Note: The free trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.
Directions: Major Access Points with parking.
Frenchtown: Corner of River Rd. and Bridge Street
The D&R Canal State Park Feeder Trail, the western arm of the 65.3 mile Y-shaped Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail System, is one of the most popular rail trails in New Jersey. It stretches north for 31.4 miles from Trenton to Frenchtown, NJ along an abandoned railroad right-of-way, taking riders along the Delaware River through the picturesque river towns of Lambertville and Stockton at the D&R Feeder Canal's northern end, the Bulls Island Recreation Area (official starting point) near the Feeder Canal's midpoint and Washington Crossing State Park Historic Site at the southern end.
Across the river, the Delaware Canal State Park Trail in Pennsylvania, parallels the D&R Feeder Trail for a distance of 30 miles. There are 6 bridge crossings, making endless loop rides possible using the towpath and trails on both sides of the Delaware River. See Delaware Canals Washington Crossing Bike Tour
Biking the D&R Feeder Canal is fun at any time of the year. Each season offers a different perspective of the rail trail and surrounding countryside. It makes for an exhilarating, all-day bike excursion or weekend bike trip with stops at charming Victorian era villages, 19th century mill towns and historic Revolutionary War sites.
During the fall and winter seasons, top off your bike ride with a candlelit dinner, an evening basking in the glow of a roaring fireplace and an overnight stay in one of the many historic inns or B&Bs you'll find all along D&R Trail. Get in some holiday shopping while you are at it. This is the perfect opportunity to find unique gifts.
The Feeder Canal was originally designed as a conduit to carry water from the Delaware River to the main canal. It was also used by cargo vessels, canal boats and barges that were pulled by mule teams that trod along a parallel dirt towpath. Later, the canal towpath was converted into a railbed for the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad. Today the entire feeder canal route has a smooth and level hard-packed crushed stone surface that is perfect for bicyclists and hikers of all ages and abilities. Horseback riding is not permitted on the feeder segment of the D&R Park.
Trail Highlights: Historic river towns of Frenchtown, Lambertville and Stockton, the Prallsville Mills & Lock, Holcombe Jimison Farmstead, the Bulls Island Recreation Area and Washington Crossing State Park.
Public restrooms can be found at Washington's Crossing, Prallsville Mills, and Bulls' Island.
Because the D&R Feeder Canal Trail section covers many miles, you can come back again and again to ride and explore different trail segments. The New Jersey State DOT has published this trail guide to cycling the Feeder Canal Trail complete with mileage markers and three different suggested loop rides of 12.2 miles, 4.0 miles, or 10.8 miles.
This small, quiet town remains much the same as it was in the eighteenth century and features several historic buildings including the Stockton Inn (circa 1710), the oldest three room school house (circa 1872) in New Jersey that is still in operation today and the Prallsville Mills historic site.
The charming town of Lambertville is known as the "Antique Capital of New Jersey". Victorian era houses and Federal row homes have been restored and remain as bed and breakfasts, inns, restaurants and shops. Visitors can find a variety of unique crafts and specialty stores, art and antique galleries and more.
A bike/pedestrian path on the bridge crossing over the Delaware River here leads right into New Hope, the Pennsylvania counterpart of Lambertville.
This 19th-century mill complex contains both grist and linseed oil mills. The site is leased and operated by the Delaware River Mill Society, which sponsors concerts and other programs on site. For information about programs, call 609.397-3586.
The Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum is dedicated to the preservation of Hunterdon County's rich and diverse agricultural heritage from the 18th into the 20th centuries. The Museum also ifeatures outbuildings for the Post Office, Blacksmith Shop, Carriage Shed, and Print Shop.
Part of the D&R Trail System, Bulls Island Recreation Area is situated on a small forested island surrounded by the Delaware River and the Delaware & Raritan Canal. The lowland floodplain habitat, dominated by enormous tulip poplar, sycamore and silver maples is ideal for bird watching, especially during early Spring migration.
The Bulls Island Campground offers 69 tent and trailer sites with fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms and shower facilities. A canoe launch and playground are also available.
Directions: I-287 or Route 22 to the intersection with Route 202 in Somerville. Follow Route 202 south for 26 miles to the exit for Route 29 north. Go north for about 6 miles. The entrance is on the left.
Note: Because of it's lowland floodplain location, the area is subject to flooding. Please check with the park office for current status.
The park also features an Open Air Theatre, Visitor Center Museum with exhibits, the historic Johnson Ferry House, living history demonstrations (frequently held on weekends weekends), and hiking trails which become popular routes for cross-country skiing in winter. It's a lovely place along the D&R Trail to soak up some history, gaze at the wildflowers and enjoy a picnic.
For more details see Washington Crossing State Park Trails
Construction of the D&R Canal began in 1830. The main canal was 44 miles long, 75 feet wide and 7 feet deep. Completed in 1834, it became one of the busiest transportation routes during the peak years (1860-1870) as coal was transported through the canal from Philadelphia and New York.
Although originally designed to supply water to the main canal, the feeder canal was navigated by cargo vessels from the time of it's completion. Later, changes to the feeder canal were made to allow vessels from Pennsylvania's Delaware Division Canal to lock into the feeder canal at Lambertville. Canal boats and barges were were pulled by mule teams at first. Around 1843 steam ships were introduced on the canal. With the advent of rail transportation as a faster more efficient means of transportation, the railroad company laying tracks through central New Jersey and the canal company merged. In 1855 the Belvedere-Delaware Railroad completed the laying of track alongside the feeder canal.
Most of the canal remains intact today. Bridges, bridgetender houses, locks, cobblestone spillways, stone-arched culverts and mills are seen all along the trail. 19th century mill and lock complexes can be visited at Prallsville Mills. The historic towns of Frenchtown, Stockton, Lambertville are nearby.
Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park
Website: Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park