Henry Hudson Trail and Bike Path
Atlantic Segment -- Atlantic Highlands to Keyport
The Henry Hudson Bike Path
The Henry Hudson trail is a dedicated bike path over an abandoned railroad track, running east-west from the northern end of Atlantic Highlands to Keyport. It parallels Route 36, but traverses woods and marshes, passing over a number of small wooden bridges.
The path is approximately ten miles, one way.
Surface and safety:
The surface is asphalt, about ten feet in width. However, since the asphalt was laid in 1997 the growth of tree roots underneath the asphalt has corrugated the surface. The roughness is not bad, but most prominent in the eastern end of the path. Safety is excellent, except for the numerous crossings of roads.
Points of interest:
The path itself is the point of interest. There are some nice vistas out to the sea at a distance. The wooden bridges and sections through marshes provide for pleasant biking. The only two diversions of interest are the Keansburg amusement park and the marina at Keyport. Both are worth the detours of about a mile each. These are marked on the map above.
The Keansburg amusement park is a right turn at Laurel Avenue as you head west. This turn is almost in the middle of the path -- five miles from either end. In New Jersey the seaside amusement parks and boardwalks get better as you get further south. This is the most northern boardwalk park, which gives you a clue. I have to warn you that this one is tacky. Sometimes that's ok, but don't say I didn't warn you.
The Keyport marina is another right turn at any street as the path passes through the Keyport area. This is about two miles from the western end and eight miles from the eastern end. There are some interesting old houses that line the road along the water here, and the port area itself is a nice place to visit and get refreshments.
A word about the "east-west" direction of the path. I can never get over the feeling that I should be traveling north-south, as the path does head "up" the Jersey coast. But the coast here is actually oriented east-west. Moreover, there is a very curious situation at the beach in Keansburg where the sun actually sets over the sea -- which shouldn't happen on the east coast. Once I got biking the wrong direction based on that sunset.
What's not to like:
There are too many road crossings where you have to stop. On the average these occur every quarter to half mile for the whole way. Sometimes it seems as if you only get up to speed before you have to stop. While I wouldn't say that the path is crowded, it is well traveled, and frequently oblivious pedestrians block your way. Usually there will be at least one other biker or pedestrian in view at all times.
While the path itself is pleasant, there is no noteworth destination here, and the two diversions I mentioned above hardly qualify for sightseeing recommendations.
There are parking lots both at the beginning and end of the path, and they always seem to be empty. Furthermore, you can park almost anywhere slightly east of Route 36 at the eastern end of the path. You can always find the path where it crosses the roads intersecting Route 36. The "official" beginning of the path in Leonardo (or Atlantic Highlands -- I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins) is at a small municpal building on Route 36 about a half mile west of the McDonalds. Here's a picture and a map.
Beginning of the Henry Hudson Bike Path -- Parking Available Here
Where to start the Henry Hudson Path
The west end of the Henry Hudson Path
Photos and comments:
A "tunnel" through the woods near the eastern end of the trail
There are frequent street crossings on the path
On a hot day, the path can be cool
Wooden bridges over little marshy streams
The usual traffic situation on the path
A longer bridge near Keansburg
My favorite bridge on the path
Memorial to a path tragedy
I said earlier that the path was completely safe. However, a biker was killed at this point on a Sunday evening in 1997. The terrain is flat, there is grass all around, and it looks safer than someone's driveway. He was riding with his girlfriend, and did something that resulted in his falling off his bike and cutting his leg. He bled to death while his girlfriend frantically tried to find a house to telephone the emergency. His family planted this small tree and put this memorial to the tragedy. It always reminds me of our mortality. There can be danger in the safest places.
Picturesque houses, supposedly owned by sea Captains, line the water at Keyport
Near the west end of the path, it crosses the junction of Routes 35 and 36
The west end of the path is right ahead here, near Exit 117 of the Parkway