Not far from Princeton University and central New Jersey's sprawling farmland, this 6.3-mile loop in the 3,200-acre Sourland Mountain Preserve challenges riders with an obstacle course of bridges, boardwalks, and rocky singletrack.
Warm up on the Maple Flats Trail. Though it's only 1.2 miles long and relatively level, Maple Flats introduces riders to the technical aspects of the park. The singletrack snakes through narrow gaps between trees. Loose rock tumbles beneath tires during descents, and riders will have to hop or lift their bikes up the route's boardwalks. Once out of the woods, turn down the fire road and pedal past the pond to the trailhead.
The second time around, ride the challenging Ridge Trail up a continuous, out-of-saddle ascent for more than a mile. You'll gain about 350 feet in elevation in no time. The path's winding singletrack goes over roots and rock gardens that will delight the advanced rider and intensely test intermediates.
After about 3 miles, the route reaches its highpoint at a boulder-strewn forest. The majority of the loop features rocky downhills and a boardwalk-lined wetland area. Merge back onto the Connector Trail and follow it north to the fire road. From there, retrace the way back to the start.
-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan
TO TRAILHEAD: From New Jersey: Take I-195 W to I-295 to the exit for US 1. Turn right on Washington. After a left at Nassau St., turn right on US 206. In 7 miles, turn left at CR 604. Turn right on CR 601, then left on E. Mountain Rd. Turn left at the entrance.
Sourland Mountain Preserve
Distance: 6.31 mi
Total Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Points of Interest
Location: 40.474071, -74.694318
From the kiosk, ride across the lawn to the trailhead.
Location: 40.474191, -74.695176
Merge onto hard-packed, dirt singletrack and enter a shady woodland area. Pass the trailhead on the right.
Location: 40.474042, -74.698164
Bear left @ Y-junction, merging onto Maple Flats Trail. A wooden post is labeled with the number 1. Ride over the bridge and follow the triangular white markers. Note: The second time around, continue straight at this junction on Ridge Trail.
Location: 40.473383, -74.698215
Bear right @ Y-junction, continuing on Maple Flats Trail.
Location: 40.471688, -74.699870
Bear left @ Y-junction to continue on Maple Flats. The Connector Trail intersects the route numerous times.
Location: 40.469388, -74.698794
Turn right @ the unmarked T-junction.
Location: 40.469194, -74.698910
Bear left @ the Y-junction. A triangular marker for the Maple Flats Trail can be seen through the trees.
Location: 40.467497, -74.699052
Bear left @ the Y-junction. The triangle marker is on the left side of the trail.
Location: 40.471098, -74.696082
Go right @ the T-junction and ride downhill on a fire road.
Location: 40.472453, -74.694269
Bear left @ the Y-junction at the bottom of the hill. A quaint pond is a great place to get prepped and take a quick break before the intense Ridge Trail ahead. When ready, ride past the pond, then bear right toward the trailhead. At Waypoint 3, continue straight @ the 3-way.
Location: 40.474310, -74.700106
Bear right @ the Y-junction, following the Ridge Trail's square markers. An unmarked trail covered with fallen logs veers off to the left.
Location: 40.475593, -74.701871
Go right @ the Y-junction.
Location: 40.478127, -74.704477
Carry your bike over a boulder field on the left. Once past the initially large boulders, the trail is more manageable than it may appear, though still quite rocky.
Location: 40.470743, -74.707203
Turn right @ the T-junction with Connector Trail.
Location: 40.469078, -74.705325
Cross over a dry creek bed full of eroded stones.
Location: 40.467915, -74.704137
Reach the junction posted with the number 5. Cross over the fire road and bear right to re-access the trail.
Location: 40.467709, -74.704464
Bear left @ the Y-junction near the gas pipeline.
Location: 40.461528, -74.704741
Continue straight @ the Y-junction with a post marked number 6. A left turn leads downhill over a steep technical stretch for an alternative ride.
Location: 40.459626, -74.708321
Bear left @ the Y-junction, continuing downhill. Both trails at the junction are marked as the Ridge Trail.
Location: 40.458688, -74.706115
Go right @ the junction.
Location: 40.456997, -74.702965
Bear right @ the T-junction. Follow the Ridge Trail's square markers.
Location: 40.458799, -74.697357
Go straight @ the 3-way junction with Connector Trail.
Location: 40.467468, -74.699068
Keep left @ the 3-way junction, merging onto Maple Flats. (The Ridge Trail veers right here.) Follow the route back to the fire road (Waypoint 7) and turn right. Follow fire road to Waypoint 9, then retrace your route to the parking area.
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