a trio of riders climbing route 23

The Baker's Dozen Bike Rides of Wantage

Introduction

Wantage Township, tucked into Northwestern New Jersey, is a bicyclist’s paradise. Well, okay, maybe “paradise” is a bit much. But it is a pretty darn nice place to ride! About 170 miles of roadway are contained in a sparsely-populated geographic region of 66 square miles. Most of the roads are winding, quiet country byways with little traffic. The farms, fields, and forests of Wantage guarantee to transform short bike rides into intimate encounters with a beautiful environment.

This short booklet is a result of my retirement. After a 42-year career teaching in the Sussex-Wantage School District, I now have time to pursue some crazy ideas that have been percolating in the attic for some time. This is one of them. I’ve always enjoyed bicycling not only as exercise, but as a way for me to feel more connected to the natural world and a way for me to experience, every time I ride, a sense of freedom. I love being on two wheels.

I hope this booklet proves to be not only useful, but enjoyable. I’m providing this guide free of charge in the hope that, if you find it worthy, you might make a donation to a Sussex-Wantage charity or non-profit organization. Please consider giving a few dollars to an organization such as The Wantage Avian Wildlife Center, Friends of High Point State Park, Wantage Dog Pound, a church or school, or any other Sussex-Wantage local non-profit or charity.

Happy riding!
Ken Karnas

COVID ADDENDUM
My intention for this project was to print and staple a simple booklet by spring, 2020. When the Covid Crisis hit, I hunkered down and put the project on hold. In late fall of that year, I had the good fortune to speak with Jean Perlee, who suggested to transform the booklet into a website. Thanks to Jean, this easy-to-navigate and smartphone-accessible site is available to a much wider audience, even non-bikers who can travel these routes in their armchairs.


Using this Guide

If you just want to ride, follow the recorded mile posts and directions that follow. To be really prepared for the ride, you can download an App such as “Map My Ride” onto your computer and/or Smart Phone. The basic App is free, and you can map out the route ahead of time. You can also study the route on Google Maps or MSN Maps. I’m “old school” and like to have a hard-copy map when I’m in unfamiliar territory. For a fee, the clerks at Wantage Township can provide you with a township land use map. Each ride can be downloaded and printed as a cue sheet by clicking on the Print this Ride button located at the bottom of the ride’s page

If you’re retired (as I am) and you have the time for ramblings and blathering mixed in with some trivial historical notes, then by all means read the text I’ve included below the directions. My sources for the information were varied and both written and oral. I have made a few (Ha!) mistakes in my life, so I apologize for any inaccuracies I’m certain are contained here.


Preparedness

A road bike, hybrid, or even a mountain bike would work just fine for these rides. Having a low gear for the hills is a benefit.

A FEW BASIC TIPS

Need bike parts, advice, or a new bike? Jason and his crew at Sussex Bike Shop (approx. 2 miles south of Sussex Boro on Rt 23) are friendly and knowledgeable.


Cautions


Sights to See Along the Rides


Kids and Biking

I’ve always been a proponent of kids getting lots of exercise, and I taught my own kids to ride bikes at an early age. Some of my fondest memories of spending time with my children involve bicycle rides. That stated, I would not encourage children, especially younger ones, riding these loops. Narrow, winding roads and limited sight distance areas that go hand-in-hand with country byways require an adult’s perspective. A better outing with kids would be on one of the many rail trails that have been constructed recently and are not too far away. When biking with kids, it’s nice not having to worry about road traffic. A great paved rail trail is the Orange County Heritage Trail. Presently, a 12 mile stretch from Goshen to Harriman, NY is paved, allowing a 24-mile ride. And, work is currently underway to extend the trail to Middletown, almost doubling the trail! Another paved ride that a kid of any age would consider an adventure requires a bit more time since it’s a little farther away. Park at the Tony Williams Park about two miles east of the New Paltz exit of the NYS Thruway and begin your ride on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. After about four miles, the trail continues seamlessly into the Walkway Over the Hudson. This converted railroad trestle is a phenomenon! After crossing the Hudson River, the walkway segues into the Dutchess Rail Trail which extends 13 miles to the town of Hopewell Junction. A round trip of 36+ miles is possible.

If you have a mountain bike or even a hybrid, there are quite a few unpaved rail trails in our area. Two that are close to home are the Sussex Branch Trail and the Paulinskill Rail Trail. Both trails cross Route 206 just past Ross’s Corner, but there are many places to park along these trails. A map is available at Kitattinny Valley State Park in Andover.

Copyright 2021, Ken Karnas | Custom website design by JPerlee Design