A leaf peeping one night bike camping trip from Philly to Trenton via train, and then from Trenton to Ringing Rocks Park via bike.
What I thought would be one of the last warm weekends of the fall, was actually one of the coldest. I'm not sure how, but I successfully convinced my good friend Amelia (who is a talented musician and who I met through this WomenBikePHL camping trip!) to come on this one night bike camping trip.
The Route: Trains and Towpaths
When looking for good weekend trips, I often check out the Circuit map to find trails I've never been on. For this trip, I was looking for something low-stress (read: not a lot of fast cars!), somewhere we could do 30-40 miles a day, camp for a night, easy transportation logistics, and (of utmost importance!) the opportunity to see some beautiful fall leaves.
Here's the route we took.
On Saturday morning we took our bikes on a Septa regional rail train (Septa bike rules - basically on the trains, if you're not going with rush hour commuters, you can roll your bike on - I've done it many times with no issues) to Trenton and picked up the Delaware and Raritan towpath (D&R) about a mile from the Trenton station. The beginning of the trail weaved through Trenton, around and behind houses and was bit hard to follow - but after probably less than a mile it was smooth sailing. The trail is beautiful and flat and is sometimes right next to the river, and sometimes meanders away.
We took the D&R trail until Frenchtown, crossed the Delaware on the Uhlerstown-Frenchtown Bridge, and then took the Delaware and Lehigh towpath (D&L) to the Dogwood Haven Campground. The campground was mostly RV's, but everyone was very friendly, there were clean bathrooms, and there was an abundance of much needed firewood. The next morning we left our bags at the campsite and road up to Ringing Rocks Park, then road back to the campground, picked up our bags and road the same route back to the Trenton to catch the train home.
Food pit stops: an oasis called stockton market
There are a few good towns the D&R passes through, but my favorite was definitely Stockton. We were a bit cold, tired and hungry on our way back to Trenton when we came across this tiny town. It felt like we stumbled upon a well kept secret, mostly because of the amazing Stockton Market, which I'd describe as a smaller, modern version of Reading Terminal. There aren't too many other businesses, but it does have a convenience store with anything you may need on the road (including super glue needed to temporarily fix Amelia's shoe!). We also made quick stops in Frenchtown and New Hope, both good towns to stop in for food or bathroom breaks.
Yes, it was worth carrying a hammer
Part of the reason for picking this route was that I had heard about Ringing Rocks Park. It's a boulder field popular because certain rocks in it create a hollow ringing sound when struck. The route from the campsite to Ringing Rocks is steep, so I'm very glad we left our bags at the campsite (and glad I didn't look at the grade beforehand - it's about half a mile of 10% grade). But don't let that stop you from checking it out, because the road is pretty quiet and, of course, the way back was an amazingly speedy down hill with a pretty great view (plus there may be a better route!). Check out the video below for a taste!
I could definitely imagine lots of other trips options along these canal towpaths - just a day trip, making a relaxing few days trip, staying over in a town for a night, continuing on the trail our to Bethlehem or further - and I highly recommend it!