Friday, April 19, 2013

Rahway River Parkway, NJ

Rahway River Association -
The only information I could find regarding this trail, a cleared and blazed trail in my own back yard that I never knew existed until I just happened upon it, was in this article, the portion copied below.
JP Seebode is a junior at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains. For his project, he and his team improved the Rahway River Trail in Clark and Winfield Park for walkers, hikers and fisherman. Improvements included trail clearing, tree planting, and installing erosion control measures.

Railroad ties and gravel were used to provide safety along the trail as well as ease the walking conditions for those using the trail.
It's an urban trail but amazingly secluded feeling and teaming with wildlife.  What an awesome trail to have right where I live.  So very grateful, JP Seebode!

GPS Coordinates 40.628339, -74.284486

View Larger Map
Parking along Union County Parkway at Jacksons Pond.

This is my rough sketch with the trail in green.
This GPS track is from 6/6/13.  The trail beyond the picnic pavilion has become overgrown and impassible.
Rahway River Parkway Trail at EveryTrail

EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking near Newark, New Jersey

The trail measures 2 miles one way for a total 4-mile out-and-back hike.
Jacksons Pond Dam to Bloodgoods Pond Dam - 1.2 miles
Bloodgoods Pond Dam to end of trail - .8 miles

Jacksons Pond Dam at Valley Road and Union County Parkway
I believe the one in the middle is a duck/goose hybrid.
From the parking lot facing Jacksons Pond, turn right and continue between the Rahway River and Union County Parkway ...
... to the beginning of the trail blazed with white squares.
I have never seen this many turtles on one log!
It's very scenic along the river and for the most part the trail follows the river in a small gorge so it's easy to forget how populated this area is.
At the bottom of this descent is a small creek to cross.  It's shallow and there are plenty of rocks to the right to cross over on.
Some Sandy blowdowns - along this section they are easy enough to get over or around.  Gah!  How did I miss that empty cigarette pack?  Will have to pick it up the next time unless somebody beats me to it.
Great Blue Heron
Red-winged Blackbird
At times the trail comes up on the road briefly but goes back down to the river again.
At 1.2 miles the trail comes out at a parking lot...
... with Bloodgoods Pond Dam on the left.
Cormorant in Bloodgoods Pond
The trail continues along Bloodgoods Pond.
Just a short bit of road walking before going back into the woods.
There are blowdowns in this section that are more difficult to get through and around.
The trail continues to the left of the picnic pavillion.  From this point to the end, there are currently lots of thorny vines blocking the trail.
Some clear sections, too.  This part is noisy with the Garden State Parkway just on the other side of the Rahway River.
At 2 miles, the end of the trail and turn around point at a small parking pullout, just before Raritan Road and exit 136 of the Garden State Parkway.
American Goldfinch
Female Cardinal
Two turtles sitting in a tree.
Male Mallard Duck
Almost every surface sticking out of the water had at least one turtle on it.
Nesting swan with nesting Mallards on the left and nesting Canada geese on the right?  Yes, that is how close the homes are in this area.
An egret, and a turtle, of course.
Looks like some irresponsible person dumped their goldfish or koi in the river.  This guy had to have been 1 1/2 - 2 feet long.


  1. Oh my gosh- all those turtles.....amazing photos!!

    1. Thanks! Hard to believe all of that can be found in the Rahway River! But I suppose since it is the only place animals have to go, they all congregate there.


  2. You can extend this hike by about 1.5 miles by walking south of your starting point along Union County Parkway into Rahway River Park. The Park has a 1.1 mile paved loop, with a .25 mile side loop around a small pond at the south end. It's not really a "hike", the main paved loop more or less parallels the park road, but it's pleasant enough, especially during the off season when the pool is closed.

    Also, not sure if you eat meat, but Munce's Hot Dog truck has done business at the south end of the park for over 30 years. Makes a nice break 1/2 way thru the walk.

    1. Ken,

      I avoid Rahway River Park as much as possible - way too crowded for me! This hike can also be extended the other way by crossing Raritan Road, turning left over the parkway then right into a parking lot from which a path leads to a bridge and a little park with a paved loop trail along the river and around a pond. Never knew that existed in all the years I have lived in this area. I didn't write that part up because crossing Raritan Road is quite dangerous and there is no crosswalk. But it is nice to know that these places are starting to connect and that the possibility of longer hike/walks exist this close to home. Not a meat eater so no hotdogs for me! Although sometimes, on a very rare occasion, I'll buy one for Shawnee - wow, does that make for a happy dog :)


  3. I love the way some townships are getting orrtestoring land for trails like this. Some townships out by me have fantastic trail associations - but they are private and equestrian use only.. Readington is a super (public) one- they have been stitching together some really nice trails for equestrian and foot use (I am sure most have been there for a while) but they aquire land that is allowing some of these trails to connect a long way- like the Round Mountain Trail. Start at Bowman Stickney (lovely old farm) in Whitehouse and go thru Round Mountain and Deer Park over to 31 in Flemington

    I just tried out the Pleasant Run Greenway in Neshanic. Had to park at a nearby soccer fiels and start on the road to get to the Greeway start- but it was lovely. It winds around old farm fields and woods, and between mcMansions- some places just a sliver of public land to get you throough. I wonder if they will all join up one day. I really like them as they are immersed where people live- it reminds me a lot of the public footpath systems in England

    1. I have the Round Mountain one on my list of hikes to do but haven't made it there yet. I don't believe I know about the Pleasant Run Greenway - found it and have it printed out. Thanks!


  4. Pleasant Run may be a bit short for you- but combining it with another may work out

    If you do Round Mountain make sure to use the Township map- it shows all the trails, (does not appear as public land on Google maps): and on the section along Woodschurch Rd- you may want to take the road- the destruction from Sandy was huge there, I did it with a friend- and we ended up coming back along the road- just that one little section- it is a nice walking road- dirt surface and little farms along it- we didnt see an single car

  5. Thank you for providing this wonderful blog about our Union County Park, Rahway River Parkway, Clark & Winfield Sections! The trail you speak of is a work in progress. The blazing or marking of the trail and kiosk construction were done by as an Eagle Scout project by Alex Tobias. The steps, planting of donated native trees, construction of erosion control measures and litter pickup was done by Eagle Scout J.P. Seebode. Both scouts worked very hard to provide a safe and interesting hiking trail. In addition, Joe Seebode, JP's dad, oversees a cleanup along the Rahway River annually. The next one is scheduled for this Saturday, April 26 from 9am-12pm. Volunteers check in at Bloodgoods dam parking lot. We also are very lucky to have two wonderful Adopt-A-Park stewards, Bob Kammlott and Steve Yafchak who are out on the trail almost daily for many years now, picking up trash. Thank you to all who care for and use our Union County Parks!

    1. This is in my own back yard so you an imagine how thrilled I was to find a trail right here! If there are any Eagle Scouts who are of a mind to extend it about a mile, I could walk right up my street to access the trail. Just a thought :) I also pick up trash every time I am on the trail. I notice a lot of yard waste dumping. Such a shame because this certainly is an oasis in a densely populated area.


  6. Thank you for your posts. My fiance and I take our pups every weekend on a hike in the Clark area...mostly to Watchung Reservation. When we have a full day, we travel out to other parts of NJ and PA. We had no idea about this trail was right by us. Small world that we've been following your blog for almost a year now and come to find out that you live nearby! We truly enjoy your blog and look forward to planning our hikes based upon your informational posts!

    1. Well, hi there neighbor! It sure is a small world. Glad my info is of help to you. Thanks!


  7. Google Maps makes it seem there is more to the park on the other side of the Parkway.

    Is that the case?

    1. I have never been over there but I don't believe there are actual trails. From what I understand you can access it through the residential streets off of Valley Road. Have seen photographers over there while on the trail side.

  8. Hi, great post! I am with the Friends of Rahway River Parkway group ( and I am hoping you can contact me at your earliest convenience at I'd like to speak to you over this trail. Thanks!

  9. It is a great little trail in the urban environment. I sense many people do not realize they have such a natural treasure so nearby. Some blow-downs from the recent storms. Lots of wildlife and flora. Enjoy it every time I come to the area.

  10. Great read.
    I grew up in the Jackson Pond neighborhood from 1957 through 1974.
    During my childhood in the 60's we would hike and bike ride a trail on the other side along Parkway Drive. It ran from about Park St. north to Winfield Park or to behind Valley Road School. There used to be a wooden bridge over the river if one wanted to go to Winfield Park. I spent many a day "down the woods" or fishing the river. Every Spring we would clean the river below the falls at Valley Road for trout season. As I recall there used to be some islands in the middle of the pond we went to as well.
    There was also a short trail on the west side of the river that ran south from the Valley Road bridge.