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Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail

Skylands Region, New Jersey

Historic/Family

Trail Description
Trail DirectionsTrailhead Directions
Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail Map

Location: Sparta Junction to Columbia, Warren and Sussex Counties

Trail Length: 27 miles

Trail Surface: Ballast, dirt, cinder

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Trail Use: hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.

Caution: Multi-use trails. Use caution at road crossings. Muddy and overgrown sections on some sections of the trail.

 

 

 

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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.

Trail Description

The Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail follows the railbed of the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad. The 27 mile long, 12 foot wide, crushed cinder trail is mainly a woodland trail that travels through a rural landscape of hardwood forests, farmland and wetlands. The trail, a part of Kittatinny Valley State Park, crosses the scenic Paulinskill River, a tributary of the Delaware River, several times as it weaves its way from Sparta Junction in Sussex County to where it officially ends near Columbia Lake in Knowlton Township in Warren County.

Trail Highlights: Include but are not limited to the Paulinskill Viaduct also known as the Hainesburg Viaduct (circa 1911), an impressive 115-foot-high, historic railroad bridge with seven reinforced concrete arches that spans the Paulinskill River near Blairstown, NJ. Many scenic vantage points of the Paulinskill River from six bridge crossings.

The grade is modest and perfect for a family mountain biking trip. Along the trail, wooden benches provide places to stop and rest. Interpretive signs describe historic sites and events that happened along the route long ago.

Sections of the trail pass through rock-walled gorges blasted out of the hills to make way for the railroad. A one mile segment of abandoned railroad leads north to the Paulinskill River Wildlife Management Area in Newton Township. This segment is unimproved, with no trail markers, but may be rideable for mountain bikes depending on how overgrown it is. Respect property rights here and watch for any posted property.

The most popular and more maintained stretch of the Paulinskill Valley Trail is around Blairstown, especially during the warmer months. Footbridge Park, located on the south bank of the Paulinskill River offers easy access to the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail, ample parking, a porta-potty and a picnic area. There is a detour at the Blairstown Airport where the railbed passes through the airport and on the runway. An access road leads from the airport to Lambert Road, then back to the trail. The airport restaurant has outdoor picnic tables where you can grab a bite and watch the gliders. Just outside of Blairstown, the trail cuts under the awesome Paulinskill Viaduct (see trail highlights above).

The woods and wetland habitat along the trail are a naturalists delight and home to a variety of wildlife such as wild turkey, flying squirrels, deer, black bear and over 100 species of birds. In the spring a profusion of wildflowers burst onto the scene changing from the pastels of spring to the golden and purple hues of late summer and autumn. In the Fall, the brilliant foliage of the hardwoods are a sight on the trees and as they flutter on the wind to blanket the trail.

Near Kittatinny Valley State Park, the 21 mile long Sussex Branch Trail (see Other Area Rides above) intersects  the Paulinskill Valley Trail at Warbasse Junction.

 

Trailhead Directions

Warbasse Juncion access: From Sparta, go north on Rt.15 to Rt.94 and turn left. Go .25 miles, turn left onto Rt.663. Go .25 miles, turn right into parking area.

Footbridge Park access: Take exit 12 off I-80. Go 5 miles north on Route 521 to Rt. 94 in Blairstown. Turn left on Rt. 94 and take the second left into the park.

Official Western Trailhead at Columbia Lake: Off Rt.94 on Burgler Rd. in Warrington, NJ.

Kittatinny Valley State Park access: Take exit 25 off I-80. Follow  Rt. 206 North to Andover. Turn right onto Goodale Rd. for 2 miles. Park entrance is on the right.

There are numerous other access points along trail.

 

Historical Note:

Because this trail follows the route of a former railroad, the New York Susquehanna & Western, remnants of the rail era can be seen. You'll come across historic rail bridges and viaducts, remnants of abandoned train stations, mileage and whistle markers, battery boxes, rusted rail ties and other artifacts of the regions industrial, mining and agricultural past including the creameries and ice houses that once served the rail line.

For more mountain biking in the New Jersey Skylands
For other long distance multi-use rail trails in this region see New Jersey Rail Trails

 

For more information:

Kittatinny Valley State Park
P O Box 621
Andover, NJ 07821

Phone: (973) 786-6445
Website: Kittatinny Valley State Park

 

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