Wheelchair Access to the Towpath

Wheelchair access to the towpath is available at a number of locations. The TowpathGuy has not evaluated all of the entrances for absence of stairs, etc., but the following list of locks and footbridges provide both parking near the towpath with no roads to cross. Of these entrances, the footbridges at Little Valley and DeMott Lane provide a nice place to sit and look down the canal. Entrances south of the ones listed below need to be evaluated by TowpathGuy before he can add them to this list. See the Towpath Access page for a overall map and a listing of all of the towpath entrances.

Wheelchair access points to the Main Canal towpath from north to south.

  1. DeMott Lane Footbridge (parking)

  2. Davidson Avenue Lock - 5 Mile Lock (parking, hotels, close to I-287)

  3. South Bound Brook Lock (parking, picnic area)

  4. 10 Mile Lock (parking)

  5. Griggstown Lock (parking)

  6. Little Valley (parking) footbridge

  7. Kingston Lock (parking)

Towpath Access with Maps

The section contains a a map listing of ALL of the entrances to the towpath of the Main Canal. Each entrance is shown on a google map and there is a short description. Some entrances provide access for pedestrians or bicyclists, whereas others have parking. Canoes, kayaks and boats can also be launched into the canal. Facilities, i.e., toilets, are rare, and are listed on the guide below. There is no access to food and water on the towpath itself or in the nearby properties of the D&R Canal State Park. For some entrances, Towpathguy has listed the location of nearby amenities. The google maps of each entrance allow you to search for nearby restaurants. Hotels are located near to the towpath only at the Davidson Avenue and Bakers Basin Road entrances.

The northern terminus of the towpath is at Landing Lane in New Brunswick in Middlesex County, and the southern terminus is at Mulberry Road in Trenton in Mercer County. In between, the canal and towpath pass through Somerset, South Bound Brook, East Millstone, Griggstown, Rocky Hill, Kingston, Princeton, Lawrence, and Hamilton. The total rideable/hikable/runnable distance is 33.9 miles (54.6 km).

If you live in any of these towns, you have easy access to the towpath and canal from one or more of a variety of entrances (see the map below). In addition, for much its length the towpath runs right along the border of two towns, so the residents of Highland Park, Piscataway, Bound Brook, Manville, Millstone, Hillsborough, and Montgomery also have easy to this haven for bicyclists and runners.

The official website of the D&R state park has maps and a mileage chart for the Main Canal (and also,of course, for the Feeder Canal on the Delaware River). The D&R maps and charts show parking and picnic areas. The availability of parking obviously increases access especially if you live far from the towpath, dread biking on the street or have children who are not quite ready for fighting NJ traffic. A bonus not evident from the D&R maps is that several of the park entrances are near a NJ Transit station which makes access for bicyclists from northern NJ, New York City or Philadelphia possible!

The list provided here (below the map) details the towpath access points from north to south. This list includes information not available elsewhere including restrooms (rare), restaurants, hotels, museums, and, where needed, detailed directions for both drivers and bicyclists.

Access Points to the Main Canal. Green dots indicate entrances with parking; red dots indicates the presence of parking and toilets; blue dots are for pedestrian and/or bicycle accss. View Larger Map

The access points to the Main Canal towpath from north to south.

  1. Landing Lane (parking in Johnson Park, close to Rutgers University and UMDNJ, 1 mile from NJ Transit in New Brunswick)

  2. DeMott Lane Footbridge (parking)

  3. Davidson Avenue Lock - 5 Mile Lock (parking, hotels, close to I-287)

  4. Converted Rail Bridge

  5. Queens Bridge (1/2 mile from NJ Transit in Bound Brook)

  6. South Bound Brook Lock (parking, picnic area)

  7. Footbridge on Weston Canal Rd.

  8. 10 Mile Lock (parking)

  9. Zarephath

  10. Manville Causeway (parking)

  11. Colonial Park Footbridge -- proposed by Somerset County Park Commission -- bids supposedly out, estimated completion in 2010, according to the D&R Canal Main Office.

  12. Amwell Road (parking)

  13. Blackwells Mill Road (parking, picnic area)

  14. Griggstown Causeway (parking, picnic area)

  15. Griggstown Lock (parking)

  16. Little Valley (parking)

  17. Rocky Hill (parking)

  18. Kingston Lock (parking)

  19. Millstone Aqueduct (parking, picnic area)

  20. Harrison Street

  21. Washington Road

  22. Alexander Road (parking, picnic area, 1/2 mile from NJ Transit in Princeton Junction)

  23. Institute Woods -- pedestrians only (no bikes!)

  24. Port Mercer/Quaker Bridge Rd (parking, picnic area)

  25. Provinceline Road

  26. Brearley House Trail

  27. U.S. Route 1 (parking)

  28. Bakers Basin Road

  29. Carnegie Road (parking), 3/4 mile from NJ Transit in Hamilton).

  30. Whitehead Road (1/2 mile from NJ Transit in Hamilton).

  31. Mulberry Road -- (1.8 mile from NJ Transit in Trenton).

Day Trip or Weekend Getaway from New York or Philadelphia

If you live in NY City or Philadelphia and want to ride on the D&R towpath, you can easily reach it whether you have a car or not.

Reaching the Towpath by Car

From northern NJ, New York, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens or Long Island, take the NJ Turnpike or the Highway 440 to I-287. Take I-287 to Exit 10, Easton Avenue. This will bring you to the Davidson Avenue Entrance. The parking lot requires you to make a u-turn -- this is explained on the Davidson Avenue entrance page. There are hotels near this entrance -- see the Davidson Avenue entrance for information. If your goal is to ride the entire towpath, you'll want to start at Landing Lane. To reach Landing Lane, take the NJ Turnpike to Exit 9 (Highway 18), go north on Highway 18 through New Brunswick to River Road. Take River Road (west) to Landing Lane, turn left, and make the first right into Johnson Park, park in Grove 5. See the Landing Lane entrance page for details. In the Fall, you should check the Rutgers University football schedule as on the day of home games, Johnson Park is not open for parking. You can use the DeMott Lane Footbridge entrance as an alternate entrance on those days.

From Philadelphia, make your way to Route 1 in New Jersey as it comes through Trenton and park at the Route 1 entrance. Use the google map on the Route 1 page to get directions.

Reaching the Towpath by NJ Transit

A total of 6 entrances are close to an NJ Transit station. Five of these are on the Northeast Corridor Line, one (Queens Bridge in South Bound Brook) is on the Raritan Valley Line.
  1. Landing Lane (parking in Johnson Park, close to Rutgers University and UMDNJ, 1 mile from NJ Transit in New Brunswick) -- Northeast Corridor Line.

  2. Queens Bridge (1/2 mile from NJ Transit in Bound Brook) -- Raritan Valley Line.

  3. Alexander Road (parking, picnic area, 1/2 mile from NJ Transit in Princeton Junction) -- Northeast Corridor Line.

  4. Carnegie Road (parking), 3/4 mile from NJ Transit in Hamilton) -- Northeast Corridor Line.

  5. Whitehead Road (1/2 mile from NJ Transit in Hamilton) -- Northeast Corridor Line.

  6. Mulberry Road -- (1.8 mile from NJ Transit in Trenton) -- Northeast Corridor Line.

For a day trip from New York take the NJ Transit from Penn Station in NY to any of the 2 northern entrances listed above and ride to one of the 4 southern entrances or vice versa. To reach Bound Brook you'll need to transfer in Newark. NJ Transit allows bicycles at most times other than weekday rush hours. Bikes ride at no charge in the handicapped areas, but handicapped riders have priority. Click here for the exact NJ Transit rules for bicycles. Alternatively, you can take the PATH train to Newark and pick up your NJ Transit train there. PATH trains also allow bicycles -- click here for the exact PATH rules for bicycles.

For a day trip from Philadelphia, you'll need to take SEPTA to Trenton and then either ride to the Mulberry Road entrance or take NJ Transit to one of the stations on the Northeast Corridor (NOT the Queens Bridge entrance because Bound Brook is on the Raritan Valley Line).

For a weekend getaway, use the hotels near the Davidson Avenue Entrance (several in various price categories) or on Route 1 near the Bakers Basin Road Entrance (limited selection). To find them use the google maps on the respective pages. Note the Quality Inn near the Davidson Avenue entrance has a swimmable lap pool in its "health club".

Mulberry Road

This is the southern terminus of the Main Canal and its towpath. Much of the remainder of the canal and towpath were covered up as part of a WPA project during the 1930's. The historical end of the main canal is on Duck Island on the Delaware River about 6 miles further south. The entrance is about 1.8 miles from the Trenton NJ Transit station.

From this entrance you can ride through city streets to the southern terminus of the Feeder Canal and its towpath (directions to be added).

View Larger Map

Whitehead Road

This entrance is about 1/2 mile from the NJ Transit Hamilton Station.

View Larger Map

Carnegie Road

This entrance has parking and is about 3/4 mile from the Hamilton NJ Transit station.

View Larger Map

Bakers Basin Road

This entrance does not have parking, but it is close to a couple of hotels on Route 1.

View Larger Map

Fishing in the D&R Canal

Most weekday afternoons and weekends, Towpathguy sees fishermen (men, women and children) trying their luck in the D&R Canal or in the Raritan River. On weekdays in the afternoons, the spillway at Landing Lane or the culvert at One Mile Run usually has one or more anglers with a rod and reel. Most of the time the fishermen are on foot and are close to one of the entrances; however, some carry their rods and reels on their bikes to get access to sites further from the entrances.

The fishing seems to be pretty good. The buckets frequently have nice size fish in them. Also, a few weeks (late August, 2008), Towpathguy watched a fisherman land a small bass. The favorite fishing spots are the cleared areas near the entrances, culverts and spillways, especially just downstream from the locks. Also, there are plenty of small areas on the canal bank that are large enough for a lone fisherman to cast. Occasionally, a jonboat with an electric motor can be seen trolling. DeMott Lane is a good place to put a boat in.

An article in Fishing and Hunting News a couple of years ago says the "most productive area" of the D&R canal is the stretch from the Griggstown Causeway to South Bound Brook. Apparently, winter is the best time to go for pickerel and crappie. The article also correctly points out that the D&R Main Canal rarely ices over in the winter. Towpathguy only recalls two winters in the past 20 when the ice was thick enough to support an adults weight. Most winters the slow moving current keeps the canal open.

Boats, Canoes and Kayaks in the Canal

The Main Canal is a great place of still water kayaking or canoeing. There is a slow current, but the average depth is about 8 feet, so there are no rapids. If you fish, a small boat or jonboath is also a good way to access parts of the canal that have dense growth along the banks. Note only non-powered boats or boats with electric motors are allowed.

Where to launch a boat, kayak or canoe?

Most of the entrances that have parking have a place where a canoe or kayak can be launched from the shore. A small row boat or jonboat can probably be launched there as well, but note for most of these sites there is no way to get a trailer close to the launch point and so your vessel will need to be carried, sometimes only a few feet. Entrances confirmed by TowpathGuy to be suitable for launching either because the shore is low and clear of trees or because there is a small dock are DeMott Avenue, Davidson Avenue (5 Mile Lock), the South Bound Brook Lock, the 10 Mile Lock, the Manville Causeway, Amwell Road, the Griggstown Causeway, the Griggstown Lock, and Rocky Hill. At the locks look for a narrow (3-4 foot wide) ramp into the impounded water near the sluice gate/dam.

Lock and Low Bridges

Locks and low bridges limit the range of your boat. For example, if you put in at DeMott Avenue, you will be confined to the canal between Landing Lane (low bridge) and the 5 Mile Lock at Davidson Avenue. The bridges at Landing Lane, Manville Causeway, Amwell Road, Blackwells Mills, Griggstown Causeway and Rocky Hill (Rte. 518) are all too low for boats. The footbridges and the Queens Bridge all provide generous clearance for boats. The two bridges carrying I-287 over the canal are very high above the canal and towpath. The clearance of the other bridges not mentioned has have not yet been confirmed by TowpathGuy.

Canoe and Kayak Rental on the Canal

Canoes and Kayaks are available for rent at the Griggstown Causeway and just beyond the southern end of Lake Carnegie at Alexander Road. Both rental sites are run by CanoeNJ, which has an informative website. Check out their FAQ for answers to common questions -- note these are cash only businesses -- no credit cards accepted.

Hurricane Ike's Projected Path

Hurricane Ike has brought great damage and rainfall to Texas. It's path is now projected to go well north of NJ sometime on Tuesday. We might get some rain, but probably not enough to flood Blackwells Mills or Bound Brook.

Tropical Storm Hanna vs Hurricane Floyd

(9/6/08) -- Tropical Storm Hanna is on the same path as the devastating Hurricane Floyd in 1999 -- see http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/at19996.asp for Floyd's path. Hanna is moving faster so there should be less rain. Let's hope that turns out to be true. See the Queens Bridge page for links to the USGS flood gages and info about Hurricane Floyd's floods.

Track of Tropical Storm Hanna

See Weather Watch Page.

Weather Watch

Listed in reverse chronological order. TowpathGuy uses WeatherUnderground for its computer projections of the tropical storms as well as for local weather reports.

(9/12/08) -- Hurricane Ike has brought great damage and rainfall to Texas. It's path is now projected to go well north of NJ sometime on Tuesday. We might get some rain, but probably not enough to flood Blackwells Mills or Bound Brook.

(9/6/08) -- Tropical Storm Hanna is on the same path as the devastating Hurricane Floyd in 1999 -- see http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/at19996.asp for Floyd's path. Hanna is moving faster so there should be less rain. Let's hope that turns out to be true. See the Queens Bridge page for links to the USGS flood gages and info about Hurricane Floyd's floods.

(9/5/08) -- Tracking predictions for Tropical Storm Hanna show it expected to arrive here tonight. The computer models show it passing directly over central NJ. Flash flood warnings are in effect so as and after the storm passes check Queens Bridge and Blackwells Mills Road pages for pointers to USGS flood gages and NOAA predicted river levels.

9/3/08 -- The computer models all show Tropical Storm Hanna passing over NJ on Saturday.

9/2/08 -- Hurricane Gustav has come ashore near New Orleans. Fortunately, without a major disaster (so far). The remnants of Gustav are projected to pass north of us, but Tropical Hannah is on a track that leads it over NJ this coming weekend.

8/28/08 -- Tropical Storm Gustav is heading into the Gulf of Mexico. Watch for weather in NJ and on the towpath in 7-10 days.

Books about the History of the D&R Canal and Towpath

The canal and towpath played an important role in the economic development of NJ. Most communities along the towpath were strongly influenced by the traffic that the canal and towpath brought into their borders in the 19th century. There are numerous historical information signs along the towpath route that make interesting reading.

Short History of the D&R Canal and the Towpath

According the history page of the D&R Canal State Park, the canal itself was dug by hand! There is a sign commemorating the work of the Irish imigrants who did most of this digging at the Rocky Hill entrance on the south side of 518. Construction started in 1830, and it opened only 4 years later in 1834. The canal was profitable until 1892, and remained open (mostly for recreation) until 1932. The state took it over in 1932 and turned the Canal into a water supply for Central NJ -- a function it still has. In 1972, the canal, the towpath and the associated structures were entered into the National Register of Historic Places. In 1974, over 60 miles of the canal, the towpath and a narrow strip of adjacent land became a state park. In the 1980's a section north of Bull's Island was added to the Feeder Canal. The towpath and the trail system became a National Recreation Trail in 1992.

Books about the D&R Canal and the Towpath

A local author, Linda J. Barth, has written two interesting books about the D&R Canal, the towpath and the history and economy of NJ. Ms. Barth was raised in South Bound Brook and boated in the canal as a girl. She is the former curator of the museum that was in the old barracks at Griggstown -- closed in 1999 after the floods from Hurricane Floyd. Her two books are definitely worth reading:
  1. The Delaware and Raritan Canal
  2. The Delaware and Raritan Canal at Work
Ms. Barth is also the author of a fiction book for children about the life of a boy from Griggstown on the D&R Canal. This book, Bridgetender's Boy is available through her website.

Amazon sells these books and other towpath related items.

Mile Markers on the Towpath

If you've ever walked, ran or biked on the towpath, you might have noticed concrete "posts" along the towpath, always located on the side away from the canal. These are mile markers. If you stop to look at one, you'll discover that there are two numbers on the top. The sum of these numbers is always 44 -- approximately the historic length of the towpath. One number is the distance to the southern terminus on Ducks Island in Burlington (south of Trenton); the other is the distance to the northern terminus in New Brunswick (about 3 miles downstream from Landing Lane.

Runners beware! The mile markers are only approximately 1 mile apart. Some are lost, and some are in the "wrong" place. In the space below, TowpathGuy will put the approximate position of each Mile Marker (and other landmarks) and the distance of each one from one of the towpath entrances. For now, all distances will be from the Landing Lane gate. Have patience as this list will take some time to accumulate. Distances are measured to the middle of the landmark, unless specified otherwise.
  • 0.00 mi (0.00 km) Landing Lane entrance gate
  • 0.03 mi (0.05 km) Landing Lane west end of spillway
  • 0.16 mi (0.25 km) Culvert at One Mile Run (stream goes under the canal)
  • ? mi (? km ) Mile Marker 41/3 - this marker should be about 100 yards past the One Mile Run Culvert -- missing?
  • 1.10 mi (1.78 km) Culvert (name? of stream)
  • 1.20 mi (1.94 km) Mile Marker 40/4
  • 1.25 mi (2.01 km) large uprooted tree root on canal bank
  • 2.00 mi (3.22 km) DeMott footbridge
  • 2.06 mi (3.32 km) fork in towpath
  • 2.09 mi (3.36 km) east end of spillway
  • 2.19 mi (3.53 km) west end of spillway
  • 2.26 mi (3.63 km) Mile Marker 39/5
  • est. 3.26 mi (5.25 km) Mile Marker 38/6 -- exact distance not yet confirmed
  • 3.52 mi (5.66 km) I-287
  • 3.60 mi (5.79 km) 5 Mile Lock -- Davidson Avenue
  • est. 4.26 mi (6.86 km) Mile Marker 37/7 -- exact distance not yet confirmed
  • est 5.01 m (8.06 km) Converted Rail Bridge -- exact distance not yet confirmed
  • est 5.26 (8.47 km) Mile Marker 36/8 on west side of Queens Bridge about 5 feet from gate (5.23 mi on google maps) -- exact distance not yet confirmed
  • to be continued ...

Route 1

This entrance was built a few years ago to connect two parts of the towpath that were interrupted by Route 1. The Canal goes under Route 1, and now there is a bridge connecting the towpath on the two sides of Route 1.

There is parking available here accessible from Route 1 Northbound. This is the entrance you probably want to do if you are approaching by car from the south. Park here and cycle north, through Princeton and beyond. The towpath between here and Kingston passes along Lake Carnegie. If you want more shade and fewer people, try either the Kingston entrance or the Rocky Hill entrance and go north from there.

View Larger Map

Running on the Towpath

There are almost certainly more runners on the towpath than anyone else. On every trip to the towpath, TowpathGuy sees lone runners, pairs of runners, runners with dogs, ROTC runners from Rutgers, etc. Some of the runners are slow and moving along quite slowly; others are obviously quite good.

Where to Run?

Running on the towpath is easy. Use the Towpath Access Guide with Maps to find an entrance near you, put on your running shoes, and go. The maps can help you figure out the distance you want and given the length of the towpath even ultra-long distance runners can get a good workout. Another way to find a run on the towpath is to enter the name of the entrance that you want to use, the word "towpath" and "mapmyrun.com" into your favorite search engine. There are a lot of mapped runs that use the towpath.

The towpath surface is hardpacked throughout its length. About the only thing that a runner can't do on the towpath is hill work! It's really flat.

Some towpath runners carry water bottles (sometimes several) strapped to their waists or wear water packs on their backs. Others seem to leave water containers at entrances along their routes. Towpathguy has seen group organizers with large coolers and cups waiting for the runners to pass by.

Organized Runs on the Towpath

The Raritan Valley Road Runners Club -- "New Jersey Best Running Club" -- has a group run on the Towpath every Saturday at 8:00 am, leaving from Johnson Park, near Landing Lane and going "from 4.8 to 20 miles" to "forever", if you want(!) but the idea is that this is a low pressure support group. Runners of all levels are welcome.

Running Races on the Towpath

There is one organized running race on the towpath -- The Fred Almgren Memorial "Mayday" Race. Every Spring, early in May, since 1976(!) the Princeton University and Rutgers University Math Departments have a relay race. In even years the race is northbound from Washington Road in Princeton to New Brunswick; in odd years the race is southbound from Landing Lane to Alexander Road. Last year (Spring, 2008) there were 11 teams competing. The history and stories behind this relay race are fascinating and worth a read -- visit the website!

Feedback About This Website

Do you like this website? If you're reading this, the answer is probably "yes". (If it was "no", you're long gone.) There are several ways to express your opinion. You can:
  1. Go for walk, hike, run, or bike ride on the towpath or a canoe or towpath ride in the canal.
  2. Enter your answer to the poll in the right-hand column.
  3. Tell your friends by sending them the URL. The send icon at the end of each page makes this easy.
  4. Put a link to the URL (http://towpathguy.blogspot.com) on your website.
  5. Become a towpath advocate!
  6. Send a comment or send feedback to towpathguy@gmail.com.