Jay Jones, the organizer of the Cherry Hill Trail Crew, describes the township's trail systems. (Chris LaChall/Staff Photographer)
Madelyn Murdock, 7, recently was at Wheelies Bicycles in Medford buying a new, light purple bike with her father, Matt Murdock. Madelyn can hardly wait to give her new bike a spin with her friends and family.
“I like riding bikes. It's so much fun,” she says. “I like the wind in my hair. Sometimes it feels like I am flying.”
Matt Murdock of Medford also enjoys bicycle riding, and says he plans on going on family bike rides with his wife, Michelle, Madelyn and his son, 2-year-old Ewan, once Ewan is a little older.
“It's a way to disconnect from everyday stress,” says Murdock. “And it's great to be outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.”
Murdock rides locally with his friends, and occasionally likes to try a bike trail. One of his favorites is the Black Run Preserve trail in Evesham Township.
“This trail is a hidden gem,” he says. “I've lived in Medford for a long time and just found out about this trail. It's a new discovery, and I hope to go more often.”
New Jersey has many beautiful bike trails to explore, and Larry MacDonald, owner of Wheelies Bicycles, says he thinks bike trails are on the rise.
Just a few years ago, MacDonald and others began cleaning up and creating unpaved trails featuring bridges, signs, bike racks and more at Hartford Crossing Park in Medford with a $24,000 grant from the state's Department of Environmental Protection. MacDonald hopes trails continue to grow and flourish.
“It would be great if bike trails could merge together instead of just ending,” he says. “I love the freedom of bike riding. I use it as therapy. When I'm riding I don't worry about anything, I just focus on the road.”
MacDonald began riding a bike when he developed arthritis as a child.
“It's phenomenal exercise,” he says. “The low-impact revolutions are safer on the joints than other exercises like running.”
Jim Woodworth and his sister, Patty Woodworth, have owned Action Wheels bicycle store in Wenonah since 1977. Jim Woodworth says when going on a trail with family or friends, try to find one that is comfortable for everybody's level of experience.
“New Jersey is a little anemic in the bike trails area, but more attention is coming to them and I have hope our trails will increase,” he says. “Bike riding is a thrill. You work hard to get to the top of a hill but then you get to race down the other side. It's worth the effort.”
Woodworth suggests trying the Monroe Township Bikeway, which is about 6 miles and connects Monroe Township to Glassboro. Another favorite is the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail.
“The Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail is particularly nice, says Woodworth. “It's not paved but well-maintained, and it runs along an old canal that used to be a tow path to transport goods.”
Before heading out on a bike trail, Woodworth says it is best to be prepared.
“Research trails so you know what is best for you,” says Woodworth. “Bring items needed to fix a flat tire. Most trails have a good amount of traffic so someone will come along to help you fix a flat if you have a patch and a pump to fill it with air. Also bring water and snacks because you can run out of energy or get dehydrated.”
Looking for a trail to explore? Here are 10 you may want to consider:
Black Run Preserve – The Black Run Preserve in Evesham Township is 1,300 acres and offers hiking trails, bike trails, bird watching, nature photography and much more. While using the bike trail, visitors may see plants and animals found only in the Pine Barrens. The trails are sandy, making them most suitable for mountain bikes. Guests are encouraged to stick to the flat and marked trails. Black Run Preserve is on Kettle Road in Evesham Township. Visit blackrun.org.
Cape May Shoreline Ride – Pass Victorian houses, beaches, boardwalks, wetlands and more along this 46-mile loop that begins and ends at the Cape May Lighthouse, 215 Light House Ave., Cape May Point. Visit state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/application3/geospatialpdf/TheCapeMayShorelineRide-geo.pdf
Cooper River Park Loop – This bike loop is about 4 miles long and perfect for families. It has a multi-use asphalt trail that is separate from street crossings and has many recreational amenities along the way. Cooper River Park is at North Park Drive, Pennsauken. Visit pecpa.org/wp-content/uploads/12-Trail-Itineraroes-Brochure.pdf.
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park – This almost 70-mile-long trail follows the towpath of the canal built in the 1830s to transport goods between Philadelphia and New York. The route has bridges, cobblestone spillways, beautiful views and more. The trail forms a V shape, with Trenton in the center, and is part of the developing East Coast Greenway trail network, which runs from Maine to Florida. The park is at 145 Mapletown Road, Princeton, Visit dandrcanal.com.
Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway – The Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway is 5 miles long. Along the way, bike riders will pass residential neighborhoods, rural forests and open farmlands. The trail ends in Allaire State Park. Make a stop at Allaire Village and tour the living wax museum. The trail begins on North Main St., Manasquan. Visit traillink.com/trail/edgar-felix-memorial-bikeway.
Hartford Crossing Park Trail – The Hartford Crossing Park bike trail is a loop with other loops connecting to it. Bike riders will see big trees, stream crossings, bridges and more along the way. This trail is new and continuing to improve, thanks to many volunteers. The trail is at Hartford Crossing Park, 106 Church Road, Medford. Visit facebook.com/groups/351915271572374/.
McDade Recreational Trail – View stunning streams, historic landscapes, open farm fields and forests along this trail, which runs most of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The trail has different terrains, including flat surfaces and rolling hills. The Delaware Water Gap is at 1978 River Road, Bushkill, Pa. Visit nps.gov/dewa/index.htm.
Monroe Township Bikeway – Put on a helmet and take a ride on this bikeway, which connects Glassboro to Williamstown. In Glassboro, bikers will pass through a dense forest and then come to quiet, residential neighborhoods. The bikeway can be reached on Delsea Manor Drive, Glassboro. Visit www.mtprnj.org.
Pine Barrens River Ramble – Explore the beauty of the Pine Barrens while riding along this almost 43-mile bike loop. The path passes by forests, blueberry and cranberry bogs, and major rivers in Atlantic and Burlington counties. Visit pinelandsalliance.org.
Sandy Hook Bike Path – Feel the ocean breeze and witness spectacular sea views and maritime forests along the 8.5-mile Sandy Hook Bike Path. This trail will also lead bikers to the historic Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Fort Hancock. The path can be picked up at Fort Hancock, 26 Hudson Ave., Atlantic Highlands. Visit traillink.com/trail/sandy-hook-multi-use-pathway/.
RIDE YOUR BIKE
The Courier-Post will sponsor a bike valet at the Cherry Hill Earth Festival on Saturday, April 29, at Croft Farm from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A 8 a.m. Family Fun Bike Ride will be held with check-in at Challenge Grove (across from Croft Farm), with 2- and 9-mile easy rides. Riders must wear helmets and be ages 8 or older.
Bike ride to festival – FREE bike valet parking; supported by the Courier-Post, to keep your bike safe while you enjoy the festival. Bike ride sponsored by Cherry Tree Corporate Center