Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:Bull’s Island, 2185 Daniel Bray Highway, Delaware Township, NJ
Hours:Park open sunrise to sunset daily; D&R Canal office open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Outside the D&R Canal office
Water/Snacks: Water fountain by the D&R Canal office
Map: (click on D&R Canal State Park)

This linear park along the Delaware River is ideal for easy walking, biking, or paddling, with historical sites and beautiful views.

D&R Canal State Park
Photo by: Susan Charkes

The Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal parallels the Delaware River, connecting Frenchtown to Trenton. Thirty-four miles of pathways are along the canal. The level trails, converted from towpaths or rail beds, provide families with easy and safe walking or biking trips, with numerous options to stop at river towns or to cross into Pennsylvania to explore similar paths.

A fun and interesting access point to the canal is at Bull’s Island Recreation Area. At this site (a peninsula formed by the intersection of the canal and the river), families can enjoy picnic tables, a playground, and views of the river. Walk along a nature trail that starts opposite the office and leads deeper and deeper into a lush floodplain woods to the point where the canal and river meet. Circle back and walk on the pedestrian suspension bridge that spans the river.

Walk or bike along the canal via the path, which parallels NJ 29. The treeshaded, hard-surface path (suitable for all bikes) gives occasional glimpses of the river through woods. The woods attract many songbirds, and you’ll see ducks, kingfishers, and wading birds. Along the way are interpretive signs explaining the history of the canal and railroads. The historical Prallsville Mills property is 3 miles south of Bull’s Island; it consists of nineteenthcentury mill buildings (some open for tours). A canal lock here creates an artificial waterfall, where splashing in the spray is a cool treat on a hot day. The Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum north of Lambertville, open summer Sundays and all year on Wednesdays, has restored buildings open to visitors with demonstrations, including a blacksmith shop and print shop. The towpath continues past Lambertville, through Washington Crossing State Park and into Bordentown

With its leisurely flow, the canal can be easily paddled by kids, upstream or downstream. You can put in at Bull’s Island and turn around when you feel like it. For more-experienced paddlers, a boat ramp at Bull’s Island offers access to the river (boat ramp fees may apply). 

The entire length of the canal may be fished, and access is easy from many points along the bank.

Remember: The campground at Bull’s Island is closed indefinitely due to tree hazards.

Plan B:

Hike or bike the Delaware Canal on the Pennsylvania side of the river.

Where to Eat Nearby:

In Stockton, a charming river town, you’ll find several shops and restaurants.


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