Jersey Jaunts - Biking in (and around) New Jersey

Henry Hudson Trail – Southern Section

Including the “missing link” along Route 79

Distance: Approximately 12 miles
Topology: Graded flat Rail-Trail
 Surface: paved

2006, 2008, 2009

The Henry Hudson Trail is still a work in progress, although recently it has had a significant increase in mileage; there are still two critical missing links in the trail system.

I find the name of the trail to be unfortunate, with the Hudson river far off in New York, one would think that somehow this trail would connect or lead to that region, which it does not. The trail is actually a rail-trail created from railroads that served central New Jersey’s agricultural industry long ago. Adding further insult to this ill-named trail’s legacy is yet another proposal to reactivate the rail right-a-way for commuter train service. This uncertainty has stalled further investment into the trail, while another multi-million dollar study is performed; regardless of the study’s outcome, one only has to ride the trail as it passes through the backyards of the many sub-divisions filled with huge expensive houses to know active rail will never again run on this roadbed.

The trail “system” can be split into three parts; the southern section, the northern section, and the Atlantic section, this page will cover only the southern and northern sections which run from Freehold to Matawan. You can download a GPS bread crumb track of our ride in GPX format if you’d like.

We began our ride by parking at the Juvenile Detention center near Freehold, here you can find a parking lot dedicated to the trail. Don’t park in the detention center itself there are signs telling you to stay out, the trail parking is to the left side and behind the building. This seemed to be the best place to start at the southern end of the trail, as the actual trailhead has no parking.

This most southern section runs for almost 5 miles northward where it departs from the old railroad right-of-way, and dumps you in a residential development a couple of blocks in from Route 79. The 2 mile section of route 79 from this trailhead to the next is not pleasant, the traffic is fast, and the shoulder is narrow, the only good thing about this road section is that you pass a Dairy Queen, and pizza place along the way. The trail restarts behind the Bicycle Hub bike shop, do not cycle past the shop like we did. The bicycle hub encourages riders to use their parking lot as an access point for this section of the trail, should you desire to park and ride from this trailhead.

The trail continues for another 4.5 miles or so to the next broken link in Matawan where we turned around, at this end of the trail you’ll see some food options just off the trail if you want to refuel before heading back south.