New Routes & Rest Stops for Ramble XII

All our hills are historical!

12-Mile Family & Casual Tour

Start Time: 10:30 am
Start/End Location: Drew University

For newer cyclists and families.
On bike paths and local roads.

Join us for a fun and mellow family tour of the University and the neighborhoods nearby. The ride winds its way through Madison, Convent Station and Morris Township using some local streets and the recreational path in the Loantaka Brook Reservation, the Traction Line and Giralda Farms. There will be frequent stops to accommodate the youngest riders and to provide time to talk a bit about the history and points of interest. A highlight of the ride is an optional tour of the St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare facility, a nationally renowned organization dedicated to the humane treatment of animals.

Highlights for 12-mile tour:

  • Drew University, a Phi Beta Kappa liberal arts university, includes the College of Liberal Arts, The Drew Theological School and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. It is called the “University in the Forest” for its oak-lined campus and arboretum.
  • St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center was founded in 1939. The Center has a friendly adoption center and a nationally renowned American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Behavioral Rehabilitation Center. This Behavioral Rehab Center is a ground-breaking behavior program for dogs that are victims of puppy mills, hoarding, or other abuse.
  • The Traction Line, built by the Morris County Traction Company in July 1904 was once part of a trolley system that connected with the railroads in America’s mass transit glory years.

Ready to go!

25-Mile Tour

Start Time: 10:00 am
Start/End Location: Drew University

On flat to rolling terrain through Revolutionary historic areas and the Great Swamp. 

Starting at Drew University, you’ll ride on flat to rolling terrain with a few climbs through Revolutionary historic areas in the New Vernon and Basking Ridge areas. You’ll explore the Great Swamp and enjoy a mid-tour rest stop…and if you want another stop along the way, you can pull into the Raptor Trust for a quick visit to encounter a Raptor, sneak by a Snowy Owl, observe an Owl and rave about Ravens! This year the 25 mile tour is the basis for the 35 and 70  mile tours.  Note that at mile 6 the 25, 35, and 70 continue straight up the hill while the 45 and 70 turn right.

Highlights for 25-mile tour:

  • The small, unincorporated community of New Vernon was the birthplace of William O. Baker, Chair of Bell Labs; Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, philanthropist; and sports figures Eric Mangini, former head coach of the NY Jets; Kerry Kittles, former guard for the NJ Nets; and Justin Gimelstob, professional tennis player.
  • Bought for a barrel of rum, 15 kettles, 4 pistols, 4 cutlasses plus other goods, and 30 pounds of cash, the current Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is all that remains of a 30,000-acre tract deeded by the Delaware Native Americans in 1708. By the Revolutionary War, settlements dotted the area and local settlers fashioned wagon wheel parts with wood cut from the Great Swamp woods. The Refuge now protects 7,800 acres in Morris County, NJ. Established in 1960, it is a migration-resting and feeding area or permanent habitat for more than 244 species of birds.
  • The mission of the Raptor Trust is to rehabilitate injured birds for an eventual return to the wild. There are approximately 50 resident birds on exhibit in large outdoor aviaries viewed by walking along the trails. Currently, the Trust is home to two Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Barred Owls, Great Horned Owls, Ravens, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawks, a Snowy Owl and many more! If you decide to stop for a free self-guided tour, please be mindful that the small parking lot is used for staff, flocks of volunteers, class trips and the many visitors who come to view the birds each week.

Passing through Great Swamp NWR

33-Mile Gravel Tour

Start Time: 8:30 am
Start/End Location: Harry Dunham Park
Elevation Gain: +/- 2100 ft.
44% Gravel Roads to challenge you

For experienced gravel riders.
Remote start and end point.

For experienced “gravel” riders, we’re providing a remote start and finish in order to have access to more gravel miles. Starting and ending at Harry Dunham Park, you’ll ride through Liberty Corner, Bedminster, a bit of Tewksbury and back through Bedminster and Far Hills on some of the best dirt roads those areas have to offer. You’ll enjoy a rest stop for re-fueling; you’ll gain approximately 2,100 feet of elevation; and you’ll be able to ride on almost 15 miles of dirt/gravel roads along the way. You’ll receive a boxed lunch upon your return to Harry Dunham Park, where the ride concludes. This tour is best suited to bikes with 28mm tires (or wider) and will feature some loose/irregular surfaces on the dirt/gravel sections, including on descents.

Highlights for 33-mile Gravel Tour:

  • To give you more access to gravel miles, we’re moving the gravel ride start and finish to the new (for us) Harry Dunham Park in Basking Ridge, located at the corner of Liberty Corner Road and Somerville Road in Basking Ridge. So be sure to arrive there (and NOT Drew) in time to register for the 8:30 a.m. start. Only the gravel rides will be starting from Harry Dunham Park.
  • After riding through Trump National Golf Course, as you go down the hill on Cowperthwaite Road, you’ll pass the Lamington Black Cemetery on the left side of the road. Within the Lamington Black Cemetery, sometimes referred to as the Cowperthwaite African American Cemetery, there are 97 known burials; 36 with names and 61 unknown. A number of traditional markers dot the cemetery but there are also a number of plain fieldstone markers with no inscriptions and rows of sunken unmarked graves.
  • On McCann Mill Road, you’ll pass through LifeCamp. The Life Camp movement began in 1887, when the original editor of Life Magazine founded the Life Fresh Air Fund to aid underprivileged children by sending them to the country for fresh air and sunshine. The Life Farm in Pottersville was first opened 99 years ago in 1923, and they continue to provide children from Newark with an enriching summer program out in the country, which they would otherwise not be able to experience.
  • As you top the climb towards the end of Fowler Road, you’ll pass the Ellisten estate on the left, where the Essex Fox Hunt holds their annual Thanksgiving Day Hunt. It’s open to spectators.

35-Mile Tour

Start Time: 9:30 am
Start/End Location: Drew University
Elevation Gain: +/- 1700 ft.

On flat to rolling terrain through the Great Swamp and Liberty Corner

An extended version of the 25-mile tour which adds flat miles for riders who want more but do not want to ride the challenging hills of the 45 mile tour.  This route splits off the 25 mile route at mile 13 (watch for signs) and continues to historic Liberty Corner.  Your first rest stop will be at mile 17 at Harry Dunham Park.  After a brief stop you will travel quiet roads through Bernards, Millington, and Basking Ridge.  There it re-joins the 25 mile tour.  The second rest stop is at mile 27 at Southard Park.  The last segment of this tour takes you back to Drew on some beautiful rolling hills.

Highlights for 35-mile tour:

  • In 1722, the Liberty Corner area was known as “Annin’s Corner” because the primary landholder was John Annin. The name was changed to Liberty Corner during the American Revolution. Part of the Liberty Corner school built in 1905 for a farming community still stands today.
  • Basking Ridge was originally settled in the 1720’s by British Presbyterians escaping religious persecution. The land was bought from the Lenape Native Americans. It was added to the New Jersey and National Registries 254 years later.

45-Mile Tour

Start Time: 8:30 am
Start/End Location: Drew University
Elevation Gain: +/- 2800 ft.

More challenging terrain for experienced riders

You’ll start and end at Drew University and join us on a ride through New Vernon, Jockey Hollow, Liberty Corner and Basking Ridge, with scenic roads and some challenging climbs. There are big rewards for the 2,800 feet of climbing including beautiful views and long, pleasant descents. You’ll have an opportunity to re-fuel at three different rest stops along the way, one of which is the Jockey Hollow area of Morristown National Historical Park where the Continental Army spent the worst winter of the Revolution. Note that at mile 6 this tour and the 100 mile tour go right while the remaining rides continue straight. 3 rest stops will be available on the route.

Highlights for 45-mile tour

  • The Continental Army bivouacked at Jockey Hollow for two winters—1776-77 (following Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware and the subsequent victories at Trenton and Princeton) and 1779-80 (considered the “cruelest” winter of the war—worse than the one at Valley Forge two years earlier). The encampment for the 13,000 men was strategically sound because the elevation of Jockey Hollow was several hundred feet above the British to the east. In the days of horse power, this was considered an impregnable fort.
  • You’ll ride by a Cape Cod Style house in Jockey Hollow which Henry Wick built around 1750. His 1,400-acre farm, most of which was covered by forest, made him the largest landowner in Morristown. Henry Wick′s trees attracted Washington′s army to the area as a winter encampment site because they needed logs to build cabins for shelter and wood to burn for heating and cooking. During the winter of 1779-1780 the army chopped down over 600 acres of the trees on Mr. Wick′s property and more on his neighbor′s property. Additionally, Major General Arthur St. Clair, commander of 2,000 Pennsylvania soldiers, made his quarters in Mr. Wick′s home for the winter.

Passing an old stone house.

62-Mile Gravel Tour

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start/End Location: Harry Dunham Park
Elevation Gain: +/- 4200 ft.
48% Gravel Roads to challenge you

For experienced gravel riders.
Remote start and end point.

For experienced “gravel” riders, we’re providing a remote start and finish in order to have access to more gravel miles. Starting and ending at Harry Dunham Park, you’ll ride through Liberty Corner, Oldwick, High Bridge, through the Ken Lockwood Gorge on your way to Califon, through Long Valley and Hacklebarney State Park, finishing through Bedminster and Far Hills on some of the best dirt roads those areas have to offer. You’ll enjoy a couple of rest stops for re-fueling; you’ll gain approximately 4,200 feet of elevation; and you’ll be able to ride on almost 30 miles of dirt/gravel roads along the way. You’ll receive a boxed lunch upon your return to Harry Dunham Park, where the ride concludes. This tour is best suited to bikes with 28mm tires (or wider) and will feature some loose/irregular surfaces on the dirt/gravel sections, including on descents.

Highlights for 62-mile Gravel Tour:

  • To give you more access to gravel miles, we’re moving the gravel ride start and finish to the new (for us) Harry Dunham Park in Basking Ridge, located at the corner of Liberty Corner Road and Somerville Road in Basking Ridge. So be sure to arrive there (and NOT Drew) in time to register for the 7:30 a.m. start. Only the gravel rides will be starting from Harry Dunham Park.
  • Ken Lockwood Gorge is between Califon and High Bridge in Hunterdon County. It was purchased in 1948 by the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife and has been referred to as “one of New Jersey’s most beautiful places.” The gorge is named after Kenneth Lockwood, an outdoor journalist and conservationist. Ken Lockwood was best known for his column, “Out In The Open”, which ran in the now-defunct Newark Evening News. He was also a strong advocate for land conservation, promoting setting aside land for hunting and fishing. Ken Lockwood died on April 2, 1948 on the way home from his weekly radio program. Ken Lockwood Gorge was named after him a short time later.
  • Hacklebarney State Park, a 978-acre visited by over 100,000 people each year, was originally inhabited by a number of Native American tribes. The Black River and some of its tributaries run through the park. For more than 100 years, iron mines ruled the land where the park now stands.
  • The Ironworks/Forge at High Bridge and the house called “Solitude” where PA Gov William Penn was held captive during the revolutionary war. 

Crunching the gravel.

70-Mile Tour

Start Time: 8:00 am
Start/End Location: Drew University
Elevation Gain: +/- 3900 ft.

For experienced and fit riders.

You’ll enjoy a tour through New Vernon, Jockey Hollow, Far Hills, Bedminster, Pottersville, Liberty Corner and Basking Ridge. You’ll be climbing approximately 3,900 feet on beautiful rural roads. You’ll also have an opportunity to view several picturesque creeks and rivers along the way.  This year the 70 mile tour is based on our 25/35 mile tours to provide a flatter and slightly longer alternative.  Your first rest stop is at Harry Dunham Park is at mile 17.  At approximately mile 18 go straight the first time to enter the outer loop. (Look for signs). The outer loop is about 35 miles and takes you to an intermediate rest stop at Pottersville.  From there you return to Harry Dunham Park for your second stop.  Leaving Harry Dunham the second time you will turn left at the same junction approximately mile 53 to return to Drew.  From there it takes the common route along with the 35,45,70, and 100 mile tours.

Highlights for 70-mile tour:

  • Evander H. Schley, a land developer and real estate broker from New York, purchased thousands of acres in Bedminster and Bernards townships in the 1880s. One day in 1887, Schley′s brother, Grant, and his wife, Elizabeth, arrived by horse-drawn carriage to see Evander’s farms. Elizabeth is said to have remarked on the beautiful vista of the “far hills,” thus giving the name Far Hills to the place before a village was built.
  • Bedminster Township is noted for having one of the most historic Revolutionary War sites in the U.S. at what is known as the Pluckemin Continental Artillery Cantonment Site, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. General Henry Knox, chief of the Continental Army artillery, was the leader responsible for building what was the country’s first military artillery training academy, the forerunner to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
  • Pottersville was first called Lamington and afterwards Potters Mills. There were mills there as early as 1756, built and owned by William Willet. Willet owned a daybook in which he recorded sales to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. His main consideration became supplying the Continental Army. He was paid in Continental currency, which became worthless around 1780. He was ruined financially and was forced to sell both mills to Serrin Potter in 1783, which led to the community′s name.

Along a scenic stream.

100-Mile Tour

Start Time: 7:00 am
Start/End Location: Drew University
Elevation Gain: +/- 6500 ft.

For experienced and fit riders.

This challenging ride gives you more of everything—history, rolling countryside, hills, rambling rivers, more rest stops, and a cruise through Jockey Hollow, the Far Hills/Bedminster area and some of Hunterdon County’s most beautiful riding areas—Cokesbury, Tewksbury, and Califon. You’ll also cycle through parts of Long Valley as your ride takes you along the picturesque Raritan River. Elevation gains are rewarded by spectacular views and scenic descents!

HIGHLIGHTS for 100-mile tour:

  • At Jockey Hollow, you’ll ride on what was originally known as the Grand Parade, which was an open field 400 yards long and 100 yards wide. A two-room log cabin located there served as the camp administrative center from which orders were issued and court martials were held. Two cannons stationed there served as alarm guns to alert the camp of attack. Guards assembled daily on the Grand Parade for inspections and to receive their orders. The Grand Parade also served as a place for military executions; two soldiers were hanged and buried there.
  • Founded in 1704, the Farley family settled in Cokesbury in the early 1800’s and built a hotel. Shortly thereafter, Conrad Apgar settled there and built a tavern which was destroyed in a fire in April, 1812. A couple of years later, the Cokesbury church was completed, and the community was thriving, but by the late 1800’s, Cokesbury began its demise…in part because the post office constantly misspelled Cokesbury as Cokesburg.
  • Califon, incorporated in 1918 and originally called “California,” became a regular stop for weekend excursion trains through the countryside. When riders bought their tickets, they were issued a voucher good for an ice cream; the train would stop so tourists could wander around and cash in their ice cream coupons. Anxious to exploit this source of outside revenue, residents petitioned the railroad to let them build a real station, which they did as a community project. Two sign painters who came to letter the sign sat and drank at the hotel (which later burned down) while waiting for the background paint to dry. By the time the sign was ready for their artistic touch, the local tale says that “Califon” was as close to California as the inebriated painters could manage.

Way out in the countryside.