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Jersey Jaunts - Biking in (and around) New Jersey
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Henry Hudson Trail – Atlantic Section

Distance: Approximately 9.75 miles
Topology: Graded flat Rail-Trail
 Surface: paved but has “root bumps”

2007, 2009

2009 Update We road the "arch" in 2009, the entire Henry Hudson trail from Freehold to Atlantic Highlands and then home down the coast via Sandy Hook, to Asbury Park. We had to navigate the on-road "missing links" at Marlboro & Mattawan,  but there is now a new trail along the bay shore in Atlantic Highlands that is easily accessed via a short on-road connection with the end of the Henry Hudson trail. The Bay Shore trail is partial paved with some long boardwalk type bridges over marsh, and stone dust surface for the rest, we had no problems with our 32 x 700 wheels. The Bay Shore trail coupled with Atlantic Highlands bike lanes provides a nice ride all of the way to the bridge to Sandy Hook. We ate lunch at Moby's deck at the base of the bridge before heading onto the open-road of Ocean avenue.

On a warm summer Sunday morning we road the Atlantic section of the ill-named Henry Hudson trail before the day’s heat set in. The trail more or less follows route 36, sometimes coming right alongside the highway in spots as it approaches Atlantic Highlands. As rail-trails go this section of the Henry Hudson is semi-urban as the trail cuts through backyards along its path, there are some noteworthy sections however where the trail crosses coastal marshlands with wooden bridges.

We picked up the trail at the western trailhead which is located just off Clark Street & Lloyd in Hazlet (Clark becomes Gerard Ave & Lloyd becomes Broadway at this intersection), there is a baseball field there with ample parking. One trick to find the trailhead is to follow the Garden State Parkway SOUTH signs from Routes 35 or 36 since you must use Clark Street to get to the entrance ramp. The trail itself is across the street from the baseball field parking lot to the rear of the gas station located at the corner; from here the trail immediately runs behind the St. Josephs cemetery.

Across Gerard Ave and to the west lies the undeveloped “missing link” of the right-a-way that includes the existing train bridge that crosses the Garden State Parkway. The newly finished southern section of the Henry Hudson is about two miles away in Matawan; unfortunately the roadway between the trailheads is not very bike friendly.

The right-of-way is paved, unfortunately the surface is fairly old and has many tree roots pushing up the asphalt, on our 2+ hour bike ride we only encountered one “toe clipper” who dared to make the trek, and even with my hybrid it was still a rough ride. On the eastern end of the trail there are numerous road crossing, and the pathway often takes you to a traffic signal controlled intersection to cross, while this is for safety, it does get a bit annoying making all those half block detours.

You can download a GPS bread crumb track of our ride in GPX format if you’d like.

The trail ends somewhat abruptly in Atlantic Highlands, without even a bench to sit on.