The 8 Best Running Trails in Central New Jersey
Running is an excellent and accessible way to get in some exercise and fresh air. It only requires some quality shoes and a will to get moving. Going for a run can clear the mind and offer stress relief, and a regular running routine can offer even more. Running can lead to improved cardiovascular health, better sleep, a strengthened immune system, better overall moods and energy levels, as well as improved knee and back health.
If you’re in the central New Jersey area, you’re in luck — there are countless interesting places to take a run in the area. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite running trails in New Jersey — get out and explore all of these amazing places to take a run!
1. Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park
The historic Delaware and Raritan Canal connects the Delaware River to the Raritan River and includes trails and parkways along the 70-mile length of the canal. The trail makes its way through five counties and many different communities. Here, the path is relatively flat, includes plenty of shade, and offers many interesting things to see along the way. You’ll see historic structures like covered bridges and bridge-tender houses.
The native wildlife is abundant, too — you may see deer, eagles and turtles on your run. This route is one of the most popular in New Jersey, and it’s easy to see why. With ample parking and multiple access points, this trail is also easy to get to.
2. Palisades Interstate Park
Just minutes away from New York City is one of the best running trails in New Jersey — Palisades Interstate Park. This gorgeous park includes miles of shoreline of the Hudson River and features some of the most beautiful views in the area. The sweeping shoreline vistas and stunning rock formations and cliffs make this spot a local favorite for running. The riverside strolls are great for beginners, but some of the trails here can be a little rugged, so if you’re inexperienced, it’s best to check in before you go for more information on the various routes available here.
3. Cooper River Park
Another popular running trail is Cooper River Park. This county park follows along the Cooper River, with miles of available paths to explore. The main park trail here is about 3.5 miles, and the park connects to other smaller parks and trails, for easy access to longer runs. The river offers scenic natural views for your run, and you can also see the beautiful city skyline of Philadelphia from here.
4. Stairway to Heaven Trail
As its name suggests, the Stairway to Heaven Trail features some light hiking and climbing and lots of heavenly views. This trail is well-known among nature lovers and bird watchers for its gorgeous surroundings and ample flora and fauna. You’ll pass a beautiful cascading waterfall on your way back down this lovely trail. It’s important to note that this trail can be quite busy, especially on weekends, and portions of the trail can be steep or muddy. Use caution, and wear quality shoes.
5. Double Trouble State Park
For a unique run that’s steeped with nature and history, check out Double Trouble State Park. This park with an interesting name was once the site of one of the most successful cranberry operations in New Jersey and home to a historic surrounding village.
The name Double Trouble comes from difficulties in the village’s early days keeping the dam from leaking. The trails here are flat and easy and wind through the old cranberry bogs and village structures. Learn a little bit of New Jersey history here while you get in your exercise for the day.
6. Ramapo Mountain Yellow/Cannonball Trail
Ramapo Mountain State Forest is a huge park with an extensive network of gorgeous and popular trails to explore. The trails here are color-coded, and the Yellow/Cannonball Trail is especially beautiful. This trail winds its way around scenic Ramapo Lake and through dense forest land. The trees make for a stunning backdrop, especially in the fall. The trails at Ramapo can be explored by anyone, but make sure to have a good trail map — some of the runs here are recommended for more experienced runners and hikers, and the trail system can get a little confusing.
7. Ocean City, New Jersey Boardwalk
If salty sea air and ocean views are your idea of the outdoors, the Ocean City, New Jersey boardwalk is a great place for a run. The boardwalk here spans about 2.5 miles along the coastline of a charming seaside town and has all the fun features of an ocean boardwalk you’d expect, from the shops and restaurants along the way, sandy beaches and even a huge Ferris wheel.
Ocean City can be quite busy, especially on weekends during peak seasons, but the area also makes for some prime people-watching during your run. The wooden boardwalk provides an even running surface, and the unique surroundings make this a fun place to log some running miles.
8. Columbia Trail
The Columbia Trail is a popular trail run on an old, decommissioned railway path where the Central Railroad of New Jersey used to run. Today, the trail features a crushed stone surface and winds its way through several counties and towns in New Jersey. There’s much to see along the Columbia Trail, from beautiful natural scenery to historic old structures and towns. The highlight of this trail for many runners is where it goes through the Ken Lockwood Gorge area. Here, runners and hikers can cross a 60-foot trestle bridge over the Raritan River, enjoying the riverside views.
Get Assistance From the Spine Institute of North America
New Jersey has an abundance of beautiful and unique running trails to try, and we hope our list gives you some new ideas for places in the area to see. If you’re noticing back pain when you run, it isn’t something you should ignore. As with any other regular exercise program, a regular running regimen can help prevent pain and increase muscle strength.
If you’re already experiencing back pain, starting a running hobby likely isn’t going to fix the problem on its own. Reach out to the Spine Institute of North America for help. Our providers are industry leaders in spine health, providing state-of-the-art procedures and less invasive treatments. Contact us today with any questions or to set up an appointment.