This hike parallels a section of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which was an important transportation link between New York and Philadelphia when it was completed in 1834. It was abandoned as a transportation corridor in 1932, but the waterway was preserved because it served as a water supply for adjacent communities. It became a state park in 1974....
This hike parallels a section of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which was an important transportation link between New York and Philadelphia when it was completed in 1834. It was abandoned as a transportation corridor in 1932, but the waterway was preserved because it served as a water supply for adjacent communities. It became a state park in 1974.
Begin the hike by taking a look at the Kingston Lock and the adjacent lock tender’s house, both located just south of Route 27. Interpretive signs give the history of this area, which was a center of activity in the canal’s heyday.
After viewing these interesting remnants of the canal, head under the highway via a corrugated metal tunnel. On the other side, a trail heads to the right and soon reaches the canal towpath. Turn left and head north along the towpath, which runs between the Millstone River (on the left) and the canal (on the right). At one point, a paved road runs relatively close to the towpath, but it soon moves away from the canal, and the sounds of traffic fade away.
In about a mile, you’ll come to a depressed section of the towpath. This area is a spillway, which allows excess water in the canal to spill out into the floodplain of the adjacent Millstone River. Then, about five minutes later, you’ll notice a canal milepost – a square concrete pillar with a tapered top - on the left side of the towpath. The number “21" faces south and on the other side, facing north, is the number “23.” These figures indicate the number of miles from Trenton and New Brunswick, respectively.
Around this point, you’ll observe several large buildings on the other side of the canal. These buildings are part of a traprock quarry that is located just east of the canal. If you are hiking during the week, you may hear some noise from this large operation.
About 45 minutes into the hike, you’ll reach paved Rocky Hill Road. Turn right and cross the canal on a wooden vehicular bridge. On the other side, turn right again and pass the reconstructed stone foundations of the bridgekeeper’s house, then continue south along the east bank of the canal.
You’re now following the right-of-way of the Rocky Hill Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, built in 1864 and abandoned in 1983. The line was primarily used to ship rock quarried near Rocky Hill (today, the rock is shipped by truck). The first mile of this rail-trail has a dirt surface and is often somewhat muddy in wet weather.
A little over a mile from Rocky Hill, a bench and a sign mark the start of a short side trail that leads uphill to the historic house known as Rockingham. In 1783, George Washington lived here for over two and one-half months. Turn left and head uphill to view this historic house, which dates back to 1710. Guided tours of the house are offered hourly. For more information, go to www.rockingham.net.
Return to the canal and turn left. For the last part of the hike, a gas pipeline (marked by yellow posts) parallels the trail. After curving sharply to the right, the trail emerges onto a grassy area, with a parking area for the Flemer Preserve on the left. Continue ahead, cross Route 27 (use extreme care crossing this busy highway), and turn right to return to your car.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 01/10/2013
This loop hike parallels the historic Delaware and Raritan Canal, following the canal towpath in one direction and returning on a former railroad right-of-way.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.