The State We're In
Take the scenic route on New Jersey’s byways!
On the road of life, sometimes you just want to exit the busy highway and take a slow, scenic route instead. Luckily, New Jersey has plenty of those!
“Scenic byway” is the official name for a route that showcases “outstanding scenic, natural, recreational, cultural, historic or archaeological significance” and favors local character over speed. New Jersey has eight of them, meandering through various regions of the state.
The Federal Highway Administration has six New Jersey routes on its list of National Scenic Byways, including four that were added in the past few years. All told, there are now 148 national byways in 48 states. New Jersey also has two state scenic byways designated by the NJ Department of Transportation.
The national designations provide a potential economic boost to communities along the byways through increased tourism, and can also raise awareness of the need to protect local natural, cultural and historical resources.
Most scenic routes are comprised of a number of local roads and highways. Check out these fantastic byways next time you want to take a fun driving tour of this state we’re in. All include great parks and forests where you can stretch your legs with a walk or hike:
Pine Barrens Scenic Byway – This National Scenic Byway meanders for 130 miles through the Pine Barrens of Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties. Points of interest include Tuckerton Seaport, Bass River State Forest and Hammonton’s famous blueberry farms. There’s also Port Republic, once the gathering place for privateers who plundered British ships during the Revolutionary War; and Batsto Village, an historic iron forge and glassmaking town.
Bayshore Heritage Byway – This national byway is also a long one, running 122 miles along the Delaware Bay and Delaware River in Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties. It begins in Cape May Point and ends in Mannington Township, Salem County. Points of interest include Fort Mott State Park, East Point Lighthouse, the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, Fortescue Wildlife Management Area, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and Cape May’s popular Sunset Beach.
Western Highlands Scenic Byway – This national byway in Sussex County passes through thousands of acres of protected open space as it travels through the Newark Pequannock Watershed, hugs the Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area and continues along Wawayanda State Park. The Appalachian Trail crosses the route north of Vernon, offering spectacular views along this hiking trail. The byway passes the Black Creek National Register Indian Site, one of only six Native American sites in New Jersey listed on the historic registers.
Palisades Scenic Byway – This 42-mile scenic byway is located on the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Bergen County and the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York. The New Jersey portion runs along the Hudson River and Palisades Cliffs and offers spectacular river views. There are many places to pull off the roadway and park, so pack a picnic or take a hike.
Delaware River Scenic Byway – Located on Route 29 along the Delaware River in Mercer and Hunterdon counties, this National Scenic Byway starts in Trenton and travels north to Frenchtown. The route passes through the historic riverside towns of Titusville, Lambertville, Stockton, Raven Rock and Frenchtown, and a scenic landscape of farm fields, forests and cliffs. Places of interest along the byway include the state Capitol building, New Jersey State Museum, Old Barracks historic site, D&R Canal State Park, Washington’s Crossing State Park, Bull’s Island Recreation Area and the Prallsville Mills historic complex.
Millstone Valley Scenic Byway – Located in the narrow Millstone River Valley in Somerset, Middlesex and Mercer counties, the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway offers a glimpse into the past where pieces of the canal era, the Revolutionary War era, and early Dutch settlement era live on. The 25-mile byway passes through 11 historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Kingston, Rocky Hill, Griggstown, Six Mile Run, Millstone and East Millstone.
Upper Freehold Historic Farmland Byway – This 24-mile state-designated byway in Monmouth County is steeped in history. The route includes the picturesque and historic Borough of Allentown, the pristine farmland of Upper Freehold Township, Historic Walnford Mill, the Old Yellow Meeting House and the hamlet of Imlaystown. Open spaces to explore include the trails of the Union Transportation Railroad, the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, Clayton Park and the Horse Park of New Jersey.
Warren Heritage Scenic Byway – The 19 miles of the state-designated Warren Heritage Scenic Byway run along the historic Morris Canal between Greenwich and Hackettstown in Warren County. The Morris Canal had the greatest elevation change of any canal in the world, requiring numerous locks and inclined planes to move boats and barges over hills. The byway is also home to Thomas Edison’s “Concrete Mile,” the first concrete highway in New Jersey.
Enjoy exploring New Jersey’s scenic byways! To find out more details, go to the America’s Byways website at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways or the state website at https://www.state.nj.us/transportation/community/scenic/byways.shtm.
The America’s Byways site includes maps that show the location of public lands, as well as photo galleries to help travelers gauge how accessible walkways and trails may be (whether they’re wide, flat, paved, etc.).
And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources – including open space and farmland – visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Authors
John S. Watson, Jr.
Michele S. Byers
Executive Director, 1999-2021
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