Landing Lane

This is the only entrance to the towpath in New Brunswick. It is located on the northwest side of the Landing Lane Bridge between the Raritan River and a much smaller bridge that goes over the canal. If you live or work at Rutgers University, UMDNJ, or anywhere in New Brunswick, Piscataway or Highland Park, this is the entrance that is closest to you.

Map of the Landing Lane Entrance to the D&R Canal Towpath showing parking in Johnson Park and access routes from the Rutgers University Busch Campus and Johnson Park. Click to View Larger Map

Only a gate and a couple of inconspicuous signs mark the entrance. About 10 yards beyond the gate, there is a spillway (about 50 yards long) paved with large stones. The surface of the spillway is now (Summer, 2009) covered with a nice gravel/sand mixture so one can walk, run or ride a bike across easily. After a major flood, however, the surface of this spillway becomes uneven. Also, sometimes it is generally wet in its low spots because it is only inches higher than the normal level of the canal, i.e., ~3 feet lower than the towpath itself. Even when the gravel/sand has been washed away, walking across the spillway to the towpath on the large stones is easy. The gaps between the stones can, however, "grab" your bike tire so be careful if you ride across.

From the New Brunswick side of the river street access is either on Landing Lane or George Street; both are busy and neither has a paved sidewak. The west side of Landing Lane has a grassy walkway, whereas from the east side the parking lots of two rather tall apartment buldings are accessible by crossing a narrow grassy strip from the paths in Buccleuch Park. Rutgers University's College Avenue campus, The Rutgers Busch campus, the New Brunswick train station, and two hospitals with emergency rooms (Robert Wood Johnson and St. Peter's) are all located within 1 mile of this entrance.

From the Piscataway side of the river there is a protected walkway/bikeway on the Landing Lane Bridge. This walkway connects to the road/bikepath in Johnson Park. The towpath, the walkway across the Land Lane Bridge, and the bikepath in Johnson Park are all part of the East Coast Greenway, a planned 3,000 mile long off-road connecting cities from Maine to Florida. You will see the small East Coast Greenway signs at most of the towpath entrances on the Main Canal.

Across River Road from Johnson Park sits the Busch campus of Rutgers University. Right at the intersection of Landing Lane and River Road (about 300 yds from the bridge) is a campus Rutgers bikepath (unmapped on campus maps but see map above) that goes up a fairly steep bluff to a parking lot for the tennis courts and the athletic teams' training center (Hale Center), both of which are behind the stadium. This bikepath provides great access to the towpath for commuters who work on the Busch campus and for students living there. The distance from the Landing Lane entrance to the top of this bikepath is ~0.42 mi (0.67 km) and to the traffic circle in front of the Werblin Gym at Rutgers is ~0.81 mi (1.3 km).

Johnson Park's single road and bikepath also has a spur (see map above) connecting to Sutphen Avenue and the western end connects to Hoes Lane. The eastern part of the Johnson Park bike path connects Highland Park (Raritan Ave to Cleveland Avenue and Cedar Lane) to the towpath. There is parking and toilets in Grove 5 which is about 0.25 miles from the bridge. Enter from the park from the Landing Lane entrance and turn left into Grove 5 after 0.25 mi. There is a trail from the back of the parking lot to the bridge.

Finally, in the 18th and early 19th century the Landing Lane was a busy port called Raritan Landing! This was the end of the navigable portion of the Raritan River. The Cornelius Lowe House, built in 1741, sits on a bluff looking over Landing Lane, the bridge and Johnson Park. Today it is a museum that documents the merchants and commerce that gave birth to the canal and its towpath. Admission is free, but hours are limited so call or check the official website if you plan to visit.

Parking near the Landing Lane entrance is available in Johnson Park, across the river. There are also a few (2-3) spaces in a small lot directly across the street. This lot is the entrance to a short (~500 yd) continuation of the towpath(!) that ends at a giant spillway just before the Lynch Bridge. This part of the towpath is not part of the D&R state park; it is, apparently, owned by the City of New Brunswick. The next ~2 miles of the canal/towpath has been lost due to the construction of the Lynch Bridge in the early 1980s. However, the historical end of the canal/towpath survived; it is about 2 1/2 miles further downstream in Boyd Park in New Brunswick where the last lock has been restored.

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