Monday, August 5, 2013

Lenape Park to Black Brook Park, NJ

Union County Parks - Union County, NJ
East Coast Greenway through Union County - Union County, NJ
Link to East Coast Greenway Opens in Union County -

GPS Coordinates 40.674338, -74.315034

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If your GPS tells you to turn on County Road then go off road, don't listen to it because you can't get to the parking lot that way.  There is a park entrance with the sign directly off of Kenilworth Boulevard.

Lenape Park Map - Union County, NJ
The map only shows the paved trails. There are some dirt trails off of the paved trail.  The map shows a paved connection to the East Coast Greenway - there is no paved connection.
Black Brook Park Map - Union County, NJ
There are a couple of dirt trails not on the map.

Lenape Park and Black Brook Park, NJ at EveryTrail


I headed west to Echo Lake Park previously and discovered some dirt trails so this time I headed east to Black Brook Park in search of dirt trails off of the paved trail.  There is such a missed opportunity in Lenape Park.  It's huge for this area, you can go from one park to another in a linear route but the trails are disjointed and not connected where it seems trail connections could be made for a nice long loop within Lenape Park. 
If you head east from the parking lot on the mowed grass and through this fence opening ...
...  you should be on a paved trail that crosses over the Rahway River according to the map.  That is not the case.
I suppose you could walk across that concrete thing to the other side but I was not going to do it with 2 dogs.  We'll be crossing on that bridge up head which is Kenilworth Boulevard and get a better shot of this concrete whatever-it-is.
In the meantime, there are some pretty views of the Rahway River back in this part.
Heading out the entrance to Kenilworth Boulevard.
Turn left and cross the bridge over the Rahway River.
This is that white concrete thing from earlier.  It's not exactly a bridge - the top is somewhat rounded.
A little further along Kenilworth Boulevard, the entrance to the East Coast Greenway path but there are no signs.  It shows as being right after that bridge on GoogleMaps but that is not where it is.
The path curves to the left at a woods road ...
... the crosses a bridge over a side stream.
Right after the bridge the paved path veers right.  To the left is a path that leads to ...
... the Rahway River with the Kenilworth Boulevard bridge we just crossed up ahead.  To the right is a path that leads to where you would come out had you crossed that concrete thing.
Retraced from there and continue on the East Coast Greenway path that has mile markers every quarter of a mile.
We were excited to find a path off to the left between the 1/4 and 1/2 mile markers,
but it only went in a short distance to a loop.
An East Coast Greenway sign at a left turn.  Straight goes a short distance to a residential street.
A helmet attached to a tree marks the spot where a construction worker died while working on the path.
The two bridges along this route are pretty beefy considering they bring you over a smallish side stream.
Coming up on Springfield Road where the path connects to Black Brook Park.
Black Brook Park
At the far end of the pond, a dirt trail leaves the paved path heading away from the pond and goes steeply uphill.  It leads to the water tower which is private property but before that point, the trail forks and a left brings you down to a mowed area with the paved path on the other side.
The path crosses Michigan Avenue and continues a short distance before ending.
You can continue on Fairway Drive, a quiet residential street with Galloping Hills Golf Course on the right.
Returning to Black Brook Park, there is a dirt path on the side opposite the paved path.
Back in Lenape Park ...
Shortly after the construction worker's helmet an unmarked trail leaves to the right.
The trail alternates between well-defined to almost completely overgrown.
This unmarked trail follows along the Rahway River and is much more scenic than the paved path.  I was able to follow it for about 3/4 of a mile before I completely lost it and had to bushwhack back to the paved trail. 
Back on the paved path, being watched by baby deer and momma deer.
Coming up on Kenilworth Boulevard.
An East Coast Greenway sign at the exit.


  1. Nice writeup, thanks!

    I agree that it's a shame that loop hikes are virtually impossible along that "Greenway". I did the Lenape Park hike just recently too, and wound up circling back thru the streets of Kenilworth rather than doubling back (I hate doubling back, and I'm not big on bushwacking). The stretch heading south on Michigan Avenue towards Kenilworth Blvd. was especially dicey, no sidewal and a blind bend in the road for drivers.

    The former greasy spoon trailer at the trail exit on Springfield Avenue seems to have changed hands and is now a Grilled Cheese place. While that's an improvement, I can't imagine how they will possibly make a go of it in that location. I ate there at the 1/2 way point of my hike and it was pretty good.

    1. It is sad when the opportunity exists. I suppose most people want the paved trails that cost a small fortune to build versus the almost free dirt footpaths that we prefer.