Walking, Biking & Parks
The municipalities and counties flanking the Lower Raritan have wisely dedicated many tracts of land along the river as open space. This is prudent because the river floodplain area is unsuitable for development, and because river greenways are valuable as wildlife habitat and for maintaining water quality, as well as for recreation. Significant stretches of Lower Raritan greenway are available to the public for walking, biking and relaxing. Collectively, the river parks contain miles of paved, boardwalk and gravel trails as well as picnic, playground, and other recreation and entertainment facilities.
See the interactive Google map to locate public greenways along the river.
Lower Raritan River Parks — by county
Riverside Park, River Road just north of Rte. 287 overpass, Piscataway — a municipal facility with ball fields, a large kiosk awning and picnic facilities, parking and riverfront. In 2014, the Township installed a floating dock that provides easy access for fishing, canoeing and kayaking activities.
Johnson Park, River Road, Piscataway — a linear greenway park (473 acres), part of the Middlesex County park system, extending the full length of the river corridor in Piscataway along River Road. The park offers fishing and a kayak/canoe launch, paved biking/walking/skating trails, boardwalk overlook areas, picnic facilities, playgrounds, tennis courts, ballfields, a paved track, petting zoo and bathroom facilities. Johnson Park is part of the East Coast Greenway route. East Jersey Olde Town Village, a collection of restored 18th and 19th century buildings, is also located within the park. www.co.middlesex.nj.us/parksrecreation/johnson.asp. In Colonial times, Johnson Park was the site of Raritan Landing, a busy port on the Raritan River. Click here for more information on Raritan Landing.
Highland Park Environmental Center & Native Plant Reserve, River Road, Highland Park — municipal open space and a native plant garden with river frontage and view, but no formal water access. The Native Plant Reserve features native trees, shrubs and flowers with interpretive signage explaining how the vegetation played a part in the lives of local Native American and colonial communities.
The Eugene Young Environmental Center building features a green (planted) roof, and a frame structure on the south side for future solar panel installation. The site is now the home of the 2014-15 Mural Project, a series of paintings by local artist Jonathan Horowitz, featuring naturalistic and historical portrayals of the Raritan Basin. Additional murals are in process, scheduled for completion in 2015. mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/middlesex-county/2014/11/03/highland-park-mural-brings-awareness-raritan-river/18269297/.
Ayres Beach Natural Area, River Road, Highland Park — former marina property, recently acquired as open space by Middlesex County. Natural area with a view of the river. http://www.leoraw.com/hpenv/biod/ayres1.htm.
Donaldson Park, end of Second Avenue, Highland Park — a 90-acre County park featuring paved walking/biking trails, ballfields, dog park, picnic and restroom facilities, fishing and kayaking launch opportunities, and a boat launch/dock for motorized craft. Adjacent to The Meadows, below. www.co.middlesex.nj.us/parksrecreation/donaldson.asp.
The Meadows, Donaldson Street, Highland Park — a municipal scenic conservation area with walking trails, adjacent to Donaldson Park. leoraw.com/hpenv/biod/meadows1.htm.
Elmer B. Boyd Park, Route 18, New Brunswick — a 20-acre urban waterfront park with paved walking/biking paths, parking, playground, amphitheater, and a deep boat launch for motorized craft. The Rutgers University Boathouse is located within Boyd Park, and crews can often be seen practicing or competing on the river. The final stretch of the D&R Canal channel runs between the park and the Raritan, crossed by footbridges that lead to the former towpath strip, from which many people fish in the river. A D&R Canal lock and swing bridge remain in place, with interpretive signage. Boyd Park is home to many community events including the autumn Riverfest.
A large floating dock facility, New Brunswick Landing, was constructed on the Raritan off the bank of the canal in 2011 as a cooperative venture with Middlesex County Parks. co.middlesex.nj.us/parksrecreation/new_brunswick_landing.asp.
Edison Boat Basin & River Walk, Meadow Road, Edison — a municipal fishing dock and boat ramp facility (permit required for use) with an adjacent River Walk area featuring a marsh trail/boardwalk, gazebo, interpretive signage, butterfly garden and birding areas.
Sayreville Boat Dock, River Road, Sayreville — a municipal boat launch and floating dock with ample parking
for cars and boat trailers. The facility features paved strolling, seating and observation areas, a very large kiosk
with picnic tables, and adjacent grassy park area, all overlooking the river.
Park and Riverwalk at Victory Bridge, Riverview Drive, Perth Amboy — municipal park in the shadow of Victory Bridge, with tables/seating and paved riverwalk with great open view of Raritan Bay. Not a formal access point, but suitable shoreline area for launching a kayak or canoe.
Second Street Beach, Perth Amboy — municipal beach area extending along the Raritan Bay waterfront adjacent to the downtown area. No swimming permitted, but good walking, biking and viewing opportunities from a paved path running the full length of the beach. Parking. Perth Amboy HS Sailing Club practices and stores their sailboats here.Additional Hiking Opportunities in Middlesex County’s Parks and Open Space Preserves: www.co.middlesex.nj.us/parksrecreation/hike.asp
Duke Island Park, Old York Road, Bridgewater — a 343-acre Somerset County Parks facility with miles of
linear and looping trails along and near the river, shoreline fishing, picnic facilities, an amphitheatre and visitor
center with bathroom facilities. The trails system extends west to scenic Headgates Dam, and east to the Robert Street
access point and municipal bike/ped trail.
Robert Street Bike/Ped Path and Access Area, off Old York Rd., Raritan — a municipal facility with minimal parking, open for fishing (trout stocked). This area is the trail head for the municipal bike/ped trail that loops around past the nearby Raritan Power Canal. The trail also connects here to the Duke Island Park trails, giving access to miles of contiguous recreational walking and biking.
Canal Street Park, Canal Street off Old York Rd., Raritan Borough — a municipal pocket park just above the John Basilone Veterans Memorial Bridge, historic Nevius Street Bridge and Nevius Street Dam. The park features picnic tables and historical features remaining from the Raritan Power Canal, and a Basilone Memorial at the intersection with Old York Rd.
Duke Park, Duke’s Parkway East, Manville — a municipal facility with picnic grove, athletic fields (use by permit), parking and unimproved river kayak access (grassy banks, no dock or ramp).
D&R Canal — The easternmost segment of the D&R Canal State Park flanks the Lower Raritan from
Franklin Township in Somerset County to New Brunswick, along the southern shore of the river. A compacted gravel
towpath runs on the strip of land between the canal and the river, providing 5+ miles of easy walking/biking along
the Lower Raritan and visual contact with the river (as well as the canal) for nearly the entire stretch. There are
no formal entry points to the river from the towpath, but there are spots that allow physical access down a short
embankment or at a spillway. Three restored D&R locks (in Franklin Township, South Bound Brook and New Brunswick)
and a few bridges over the canal provide the only direct access to the Raritan from the communities on the south side
of the Raritan above New Brunswick.
D&R Canal State Park website: dandrcanal.com/park_index.html.