Cycling Across The Centuries:
Experiencing Union County History by Bike

Updated 06/19/2020

Union County parks follow statewide guidelines for preventing COVID-19; social distance is required and masks are strongly recommended.

Beginning on June 22, Union County will lift certain restrictions on the use of County parks during the COVID-19 outbreak. The updated rules of use are in accordance with statewide guidelines issued by the New Jersey Department of Health.

“Masks and social distance are the only effective tools we have for stopping the spread of COVID-19, so we strongly urge visitors to continue to observe precautions against infection while enjoying outdoor activities in County parks,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

Social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands frequently, and keeping hands away from face are among the basic precautions for preventing COVID-19 and other infections. Persons who feel sick should stay away from others.

The following rules apply to activities in Union County parks during the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Trail biking: Trail biking is prohibited in all Union County parks. Trail biking was prohibited before the COVID-19 outbreak, and it continues to be prohibited. Bicycles are permitted only on paved paths in Union County parks.
  • Closed: Shared recreation equipment, certain playgrounds (see list below for playgrounds that have reopened), workout stations, and fitness equipment. The Warinanco Sports Center and the Trailside Nature and Science Center also remain closed. The Walter E. Ulrich swimming pool is under construction and remains closed. Watchung Stable remains closed to the general public and is currently assessing plans for the summer. Basketball courts are available only for non-contact drills as of June 22, consistent with rules for similar sports.
  • Reopened with adjustments:Golf courses, archery range, tennis courts, dog parks.
  • Picnic areas: Reservations begin July 1. As of July 1 the maximum number of people allowed per reservation will be 250 if the COVID-19 outbreak in New Jersey continues to trend down. The limit will rise to 500 on July 3.
  • Limited use of athletic fields: As of June 22, use of County athletic fields for team sporting events, including inter-team games, scrimmages, and tournaments, is permitted only for low risk, non-contact sports.
  • Parks that have playground(s) that are now reopened:
    • Cedar Brook, Conant, Echo Lake, Esposito, Green Brook, John Russell, Wheeler, Lighting Brook, Loop Playground, Madison Avenue, Mattano, Mohawk, Mohawk, Nomahegan, Phil Rizzuto, Ponderosa, Rahway, Rutgers Ave, Snyder, Unami, Warinanco, Wheeler

Low risk sports include archery, golf, and other events based exclusively on individual effort such as individual cycling swimming, rowing, diving, equestrian jumping or dressage, sailing, weightlifting, tennis, dance, pole vault, high jump, long jump, marathon, triathlon, cross country, track and field, disc golf, and badminton.

For medium and high risk contact sports, fields will open on June 22 but use will be limited to no-contact drills, practices, and simulations of game situations. No games, scrimmages or tournaments will be permitted for contact sports.

Medium risk contact sports include Lacrosse, hockey, multi-person rowing, multi-person kayaking, multi-person canoeing, water polo, swimming relays, fencing, cycling in a group, running in a close group, group sailing, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball/softball, short track.

High risk contact sports include rugby, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, wrestling, pair figure skating, football, group dance, group cheer.

Note: additional permissions for sports are anticipated in the coming weeks. Please be patient and help protect the Union County community as we re-open our parks under the guidance of public health professionals.

  • Currently Allowed: Individual activities such as walking, jogging, biking and fishing are allowed. Bicycles are allowed on paved pathways only. No bicycles are allowed on unpaved paths and trails in Union County parks.
  • Use of walking paths:Follow arrows to move counter-clockwise only. Slow users keep right; fast users pass on left. Give way to others to maintain six-foot distance when passing.
  • Masks: Strongly recommended.
  • Parking and hours of use: Union County Parks are open dawn to dusk only; no off-hours use permitted. Drivers must observe parking rules.
  • Report abuse of social distance guidelines to Union County Police: 908-654-9800.

For maps, directions, and more information about activities in Union County parks, visit online at ucnj.org/parks, email parksinfo@ucnj.org, or call 908-527-4900.

Park visitors please note: Stay on marked trails in order to preserve fragile native habitat in County parks. The taking of plants and other wildlife is prohibited. Share paved paths by keeping to the right unless passing others. Bicycles are permitted only on paved paths. Dogs must be kept on leash. All trash must be carried out where receptacles are full or unavailable. 

For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including guidance for the Test Center, visit ucnj.org/coronavirus-update.

For general information about COVID-19 and phone contacts for 24/7 assistance with questions, visit the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

Looking for a way to cycle through history? There are more than 30 historic sites across Union County and cycling may be one of the most enjoyable ways to visit them.  We’ve put together four 17 – 33 mile circuit routes in various parts of the county, along with a fairly challenging  “Hannah On Wheels Ghost Ride” a 40-mile route that circumnavigates the County.

Because many area roads are so heavily trafficked, early Sunday morning rides may prove to be the most enjoyable.

While cycling is a great family activity, these routes would be challenging for younger children. Always remember to follow the rules of the road and wear clothing that alerts motorists to your presence.

Enjoy! The routes are below:

The Ridge: Touring the Watchungs (17.8 miles)

Route map

Sites Along This Route Include: Deserted Village, Cataract Hollow Road, Berkeley Heights; Summit Playhouse, 10 New England Ave., Summit; Twin Maples, 214 Springfield Ave, Summit; Reeves-Reed Arboretum, 165 Hobart Ave, Hobart Ave., Summit; Carter House, 90 Butler Pkwy, Summit; Salt Box Museum, 1350 Springfield Ave, New Providence; Littell-Lord Farmhouse, 31 Horseshoe Rd., Berkeley Heights

To reach this route via NJ Transit: Take the Morristown line to Summit, 40 Union Place; or the Peapack-Gladstone line to Berkeley Heights Station, Sherman & Plainfield Aves; or, New Providence Station , 803 Old Springfield  Ave.

From Revolution to the Cemeteries (23.3 miles)

Route map

Sites Along This Route Include: First Presbyterian Church & Snyder Academy, 42 S. Broad St., Elizabeth; Boxwood Hall, 1073 E. Jersey St., Elizabeth; Liberty Hall, 1003 Morris Ave., Union; Evergreen Cemetery, 1137 N. Broad St., Hillside; Woodruff House Eaton Store Museum, 111 Conant St., Hillside; Caldwell Parsonage, 909 Caldwell Ave, Union; Cannon Ball House, 126 Morris Ave, Springfield; Crane-Phillips House, 124 North Union Ave., Cranford; Abraham Clark Memorial House, 101 9th Ave., Roselle 

To reach this route via NJ Transit: Take the Northeast Corridor or NJ Coast lines to the Elizabeth or  North Elizabeth stations or the Raritan Valley Line to the Union or Cranford stations 

Patriots, Planners & Pioneers (16.8 miles)

Route map

Sites Along This Route Include: Crane-Phillips House, 124 North Union Ave., Cranford; Abraham Clark Memorial House, 101 9th Ave., Roselle; Roselle Park Museum, 9 West Grant Ave., Roselle Park; Oswald J. Nitschke House, 49 South 21st St., Kenilworth; Hetfield House, Constitution Plaza, Mountainside; Miller-Cory House Museum, 614 Mountain Ave, Westfield; Reeve House, 314 Mountain Ave., Westfield.

To reach this route via NJ Transit: Take the Raritan Valley Line to either the Westfield, Cranford or Roselle Park stations.

Fields of Old Elizabethtown (33.6 miles)

Route map

Sites Along This Route Include: The Historic Fanwood Train Station, North Ave, Fanwood; Friends Meeting House, 225 Watchung Ave., Plainfield; Drake House Museum, 602 W. Front St., Plainfield; Frazee House, 1451 Raritan Rd., Scotch Plains; Battle of the Short Hills Battleground, Ash Brook Reservation, 1776 Raritan Rd., Scotch Plains; Dr. William Robinson Plantation, 593 Madison Hill Rd., Clark; Merchants & Drovers Tavern, 1632 St. Georges Ave., Rahway; Reeve House, 314 Mountain Ave, Westfield; Miller-Cory House, 614 Mountain Ave., Westfield

To reach this route via NJ Transit: Take the Raritan Valley Line to either the Fanwood, Westfield, or Plainfield stations or the Northeast Corridor Line to the Rahway Station.

Hannah On Wheels: The Ghost Ride Across Four Centuries (41.2 miles)

Route map

Advisory: Because this route is a 40+mile loop around Union County, there is no limit to the number of places to start/finish. One option to consider is beginning and ending at the Deserted Village in the Watchung Reservation, where there is ample parking. It’s also a great location for a picnic after your ride.  Due to the traffic volume on many roads, early Sunday mornings work best, with the recommendation that cyclists ride in a clockwise direction, heading through Union and Elizabeth first to get some of the busiest roads out of the way at the beginning.

Sites Along This Route Include: The Deserted Village, Carter House, Summit: Caldwell Parsonage, Union; Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside; Union County Courthouse, Elizabeth; Merchants & Drovers Tavern (Cemetery), Rahway; Hazelwood Cemetery,  Rahway; Battle of the Short Hills, Ashbrook Reservation, Scotch Plains; Drake House Museum, Plainfield 

To reach this route via NJ Transit: Take either the Raritan Valley, Northeast Corridor, NJ Coast or Morristown lines, which all have stops on this route. If driving to this area for the ride, there is ample parking at the Deserted Village in Berkeley Heights to start and end the ride.