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Saddle River Pathway
This nearly-level hike follows the Saddle River from Ridgewood to Rochelle Park, passing through the heart of Bergen County on a scenic corridor.
Shuttle/Two car or Public Transportation
Allowed on leash
Public Transportation, Historic feature, Bikes allowed
Bergen County Parks Department map
To reach the start of the hike, take N.J. Route 17 to the Ridgewood Avenue exit, heading towards Ridgewood. Follow East Ridgewood Avenue for about one mile to the entrance to the Wild Duck Pond Area of the Saddle River County Park (on the right). Enter the park and follow the loop road to Parking Area D (the last parking area before the loop road comes back to East Ridgewood Avenue), where the trail begins.
If you have two cars, you will want to park one at each end of the hike. (If you have only one car, you can return to the start by public transportation.) To reach the southern end of the hike, take I-80 to Exit 63 and follow Riverview Avenue to Essex Street. Turn left onto Essex Street, then turn right at the next traffic light onto Rochelle Avenue. Take the next left onto Railroad Avenue and turn right at the entrance to Saddle River County Park. Leave one car here. With the other car, take Railroad Avenue back to Rochelle Avenue and turn left. Continue for one mile and turn left onto Route 17 north. Follow Route 17 for four miles to the Ridgewood Avenue exit, and see directions above.
The trailhead can be reached by taking NJ Transit #163 bus.to the intersection of Paramus Road and East Ridgewood Avenue and walkkng west on East Ridgewood Avenue to the park.
The Saddle River Pathway extends along the Saddle River from Wild Duck Pond, just north of East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood, to Railroad Avenue in Rochelle Park, a distance of six miles. The trail is a paved multi-use path, open to walkers, joggers and bicyclists (although, on a recent weekday visit, most of the users were walkers). Suburban development can be seen along the trail for much of its way (especially when there are no leaves on the trees), and it certainly does not offer a wilderness experience. But it does provide the opportunity to walk for six miles through the center of Bergen County while paralleling a scenic stream, and without crossing at grade a single road open to through traffic! It's also easy to keep track how far you have gone, as there are small mileage signs along the trail each tenth of a mile.
The pathway begins at the southern end of Parking Area D at Wild Duck Pond, where a sign points to "Glen Rock/Fair Lawn/Dunkerhook." Follow the paved path under East Ridgewood Avenue and continue south along the Saddle River. At first, an office building and several homes directly abut the pathway on the right, but after half a mile, the corridor widens to include parkland to the west.
At 0.8 mile, the trail reaches Grove Street and bears left to parallel it. Then, in another 0.2 mile, it passes beneath the overpass carrying Grove Street over the Saddle River and continues south, with the river on the left and Ridgewood's Grove Park on the right. Homes can be seen through the trees on the opposite side of the river, but they soon end, and the trail begins to traverse a more pristine section, with parkland on both sides.
The trail crosses a bridge over a tributary stream at 1.6 miles and reaches a T-intersection. Here, you should turn left, following the sign to "Dunkerhook/Fair Lawn." After passing a small dam in the Saddle River, the trail turns left and crosses a bridge over the river. At the next T-intersection, turn right onto a road open to vehicular traffic (it is the exit from a parking area), following the sign for "Saddle Brook/Rochelle Park."
Proceed ahead on this road, which curves to the left and parallels the river. At the second "stop" sign, again bear right to continue along the Saddle River. The site of the former Dunkerhook Road bridge is passed at 2.3 miles, after which the trail bears right and crosses the river on a newer bridge.
On the other side of the bridge, you'll reach a T-intersection. Here, you should turn left, following the sign for "Saddle Brook/Rochelle Park," and pass through an open grassy area, with tennis courts to the right.
At 2.8 miles, the trail goes under the Century Road bridge. Just beyond, turn left, following the sign for "Saddle Brook." For the next 0.2 mile, the trail runs close to houses on the right, but it soon enters a more natural area bordered by parkland on both sides.
After passing through an open area with ballfields, the trail bears left at 3.6 miles and crosses to the east bank of the Saddle River. It now begins to parallel Paramus Road, with a Greek Orthodox Church on the left. A path leading to Paramus Road joins from the left, but you should bear right, proceeding under the Route 4 bridge on a walkway built over the river.
A short distance beyond, at 4.0 miles, the path ahead leads to the historic Easton Tower, built in 1899 on the site of a former gristmill that dated back to 1745. You should turn right, cross a bridge over the river, and reach the intersection of Saddle River Road and Red Mill Road. Here, you bear left, proceed under the Red Mill Road bridge on a walkway built over the river, then bear left to continue along the river.
After approaching Saddle River Road, the trail passes behind homes and reaches several ballfields. At 4.5 miles, it goes by a parking area (for the park and ballfields), crosses its entrance road, then briefly parallels the road. A short distance beyond, another path goes to the right, but you should continue ahead, following the sign for "Rochelle Park."
Soon, you'll see and hear the Garden State Parkway to the left (across the river), while to the right, a path circles a pond, with the two paths running directly parallel to each other. After bearing left at 5.0 miles and crossing under the Parkway, you'll come to another intersection where, on the left, a bridge crosses the river.
For the rest of the way, there are parallel paths on both sides of the river, so you can either turn left and cross the bridge to the east side of the river, or proceed ahead along the west side of the river. The official route of the pathway continues along the west side, passing several ballfields and open grassy areas. After crossing a culvert over a stream, the trail continues through a wooded area to end on Saddle River Road, just north of its intersection with Railroad Avenue.
Turn left onto Saddle River Road, then immediately left onto Railroad Avenue. If you have left a car at the southern end of the hike, turn left at the entrance to Saddle River County Park. If you have only one car, you can return to the start of the hike via public transportation. Continue on Railroad Avenue to Rochelle Avenue, turn left, and walk for 0.7 mile to Passaic Street. Cross the street, turn right and proceed one block to a stop for the #163 bus, which takes you back to the start (go to www.njtransit.com for a schedule).