Columbia Trail Bike Ride

Bike ride with the kids on the scenic Columbia Trail

High Bridge Common Columbia Trail

Parking lot at High Bridge Common

The Columbia Trail is easily the most pleasant and scenic rail-trail in New Jersey. The trail is a multi-use trail that follows, for the most part, the former Central Railroad of the New Jersey-Central division of the High Bridge Line. The trail is named for the Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation which donated the land in return for the permit to install a gas pipeline from Hellerton, Pennsylvania to Hanover Township, New Jersey. The entire trail runs about 15 miles from downtown High Bridge in Hunterdon County to the border of Mt. Olive and Washington Townships in Morris County skirting the mountain side atop the South Branch of the Raritan River for most of the way. My sons and I only did about 10 miles of the total trail, starting from the parking lot at High Bridge to the Robert Jenkinson Nurseries, just across West Mill Road from the parking lot for the start of the Long Valley section of the Columbia trail. The Columbia trail is hard packed crushed stones or gravel and is very smooth – except where horse traffic is heavy, making the 20 miles or so ride very fast for us. The trail is multi-use so expect to encounter equestrians, joggers, mothers with strollers, dog walkers, hikers, and of course, mountain bikers, and follow trail etiquette for shared use trails.

start of Columbia Trail at High Bridge

multi use Columbia Trail
The Columbia Trail is very kid and family friendly. The trail is fairly flat. There are slight and gradual climbs and down hills from High Bridge to Hoffmans Crossing Road. The rest of the trail from Hoffmans Crossing Road to West Mill Road is flat. While some section of the trail is about 70 feet about the river below, there are no real dangers of falling over – unless you are careless or fooling around by the edge of the trail. But with small children, you have to watch them every second to make sure they are safe from harm.

Columbia Trail Raitan River
Columbia Trail along the Raitan River
Columbia Trail along the Raritan River
In front of Robert Jenkinson Nurseries before Hoffmans Crossing Road
Hoffmans Crossing Road along the Columbia Trail
Robert Jenkinson Nurseries
Directions to the Trailhead at High Bridge: From the junction of Route 78 and Route 31 in Clinton, go north on Route 31 for 1.7 miles to Route 513 north and follow Route 513 into Main Street of High Bridge. Turn left into High Bridge Commons, just before Route 513 turns right at the top of the hill. There was one Porta John at the High Bridge Commons parking lot. There were no facilities at the other parking areas. See more pictures taken along the Columbia Trail. See the Columbia Trail Map for other parking along the Columbia Trail.

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