Tag Archives: New Jersey Motorcycle Rides

A Ride Through New Jersey’s Northwest Counties

Kawasaki Voyager Sussex County New Jersey
My Kawasaki Voyager reflects on the beauty of rolling, serpentine Route 617 that meanders through parts of Sussex County. Photos by the author.

Although some view New Jersey as home to just oil refineries, highways and urban/suburban sprawl devoid of good motorcycling opportunities, nothing could be further from the truth. New Jersey has counties with miles of backcountry roads to explore. Two of the best are Sussex and Warren in the Skylands Region, where country roads serpentine and roll past farmlands, forests and small towns, and through thousands of acres of state parkland, making for a memorable and scenic favorite ride.

New Jersey motorcycle ride map
A map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/compartmaps.com.

I began my tour in West Milford at the base of Bearfort Mountain. My 1,700cc Kawasaki Voyager comfortably climbed the snaking Warwick Turnpike into the mountains of Abram S. Hewitt State Forest, passing the shimmering waters of Upper Greenwood Lake and the 34,350-acre Wawayanda State Park, which offers swimming, boating, hiking and picnicking opportunities.

1800s-era buckboard
An 1800s-era buckboard complements a lush field on Route 617.

After Wawayanda, you cross into New York for a few miles but as my friend, Too Cool Drew, always says, “Just looks like more of Jersey to me.” For a nice view, make a left at the Warwick Conference Center sign onto Hoyt Road and stop at the parking lot of the Mulder Chapel. Mountains and farms spread out like a colorful quilt. From there, continue on Hoyt Road to Route 94 south and back into New Jersey.

Frankford Plain Methodist Church of Augusta
The Frankford Plain Methodist Church of Augusta. The congregation was founded more than 300 years ago. This, their fourth church building, was built in 1860 and renovated several times.

Sailing through Vernon Valley on the hilly curves of Route 94, ringed by mountains and embraced by farmland, is one nice ride. Heaven Hill Farm offers multiple farm experiences, plus amusement park rides during fall weekends. At Vernon Crossing Road/Route 644, I turned right and then connected with Route 517 north, continuing my scenic exploration of Vernon Valley.

Heaven Hill Farm on Route 97 in Vernon
Signs advertise all the fun that can be had at the Heaven Hill Farm on Route 97 in Vernon.

At the Pochuck Valley Farm Market (a great place for a respite, snack or lunch), I headed south on Route 565, a rollicking road where I was tempted to “just roll that power on” (Bob Seger), but instead enjoyed the scenery at a cruising pace. Riding along the boundary of the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, there are sweeping views of mountains and farms.

Typical stone block house in Hope, circa late 1700s.
Typical stone block house in Hope, circa late 1700s.

Route 628, another twisty road, leads west to Route 519 south, which weaves and rolls through Sussex and Warren counties. By this time, these beautiful roads had already filled me with contentment. I was in nirvana riding the countryside with my Voyager rumbling in my ears, the cool, fresh fall air caressing my lungs and the sun washing my face with warmth.

Horses on a farm on Route 519
Horses on a farm on Route 519 stare down the observer as if to say, “Don’t mess with New Jersey.”

Stopping briefly at Space Farms Zoo & Museum, I viewed the bison herd from a side road. Space Farms also has more than 500 animals including tigers, bears, leopards and monkeys, among others. What might be of most interest to riders, however, is the museum of antique cars and motorcycles.

From here it was a straight run on Route 519 to Hope, established in 1769 as a planned community by German Moravians. Many of the original stone buildings still stand today, as does the Inn at Millrace Pond (my lunch stop), a former gristmill built in 1769. The entire town was listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1973.

Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope
The restaurant entrance at the Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope.

After lunch, I did a walkabout and imagined what it must have been like living here in the 1700s. Mounting my steel steed, I galloped north on Route 521, another premier road that weaves through Sussex and Warren counties. Recently repaved, it makes for a smooth ride. I stopped in Blairstown for gas and had a coffee at the famous Blairstown Diner, which appeared along with other sites in and around Blairstown in the 1980 “Friday the 13th” film starring Kevin Bacon.

High Point State Park
Two riders mounting up and getting ready to roll after visiting High Point State Park.

Route 617 in Stillwater branches off Route 521, offering a more rustic ride before reconnecting with it. Also, recently repaved, 617 leads into the high country sooner, with views of the rocky cliffs of the Kittatinny Mountains as it serpentines beneath them. Route 521 joins U.S. Route 206 north, leading to a bumpy ride through Stokes State Forest to Sunrise Mountain and High Point State Park, a combined 31,504 acres of parkland. If you enjoy motorcycle camping, both parks have campsites, and Stokes also rents cabins and lean-tos. Several overlooks bless this route, and watch for wildlife – the parks abound with deer, hawks, bears and coyotes.

Kawasaki Voyager Sussex County New Jersey
The narrow and bumpy Sunrise Mountain Road at Western Overlook points north toward High Point State Park.

Sunrise Mountain gives an eagle-eye view looking east along the route traversed earlier on Route 519. However, the most encompassing panorama on the entire ride is from High Point Monument. The monument obelisk rises 220 feet into the heavens and was built to honor veterans. Even from the base, a three-state mountainous view of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York rolls across the horizon like ocean waves.

High Point Monument
The 220-foot High Point Monument, built in 1930, honors all war veterans. Whether from its base or from the top of the monument, a panorama of the forests, mountains and farmlands of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania unfolds before your eyes.

With the day growing late, I mounted my Voyager and headed home on Route 23 to Route 94. Images of all the great roads, farms, mountains and country churches flickered in my brain like an old time movie. And I was already looking forward to exploring New Jersey’s northwest counties once again.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Meandering Through the Hinterlands of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
A solo rider flying the twisties of the Hawks Nest high above the Delaware River. Photos by the author.

When I head out for an overnight adventure, I like to ride back roads in the hinterlands that are devoid of the traffic and complexity of the 21st century. I seek the simplicity in life that naturalist writer Henry David Thoreau advocated more than 150 years ago. Cruising alongside lakes and rivers, through forests, over mountains and by farms on rolling, serpentine two-lane roads make my trip. Meandering through the hinterlands of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania suits me as an excellent favorite ride.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
Map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/compartmaps.com.

I began my journey on Westbrook Road in Ringwood, New Jersey, crossing the Westbrook Bridge over the expansive 2,310-acre Wanaque Reservoir. Views of sparkling blue water licking the mountainous shorelines north and south of the bridge are impressive. Snaking along the bumpy shoreline road, I turned right onto Stonetown Road, a favorite of local riders. This rolling, weaving road runs through forests and past country homes before bursting into the open sky at the Monksville Dam and Reservoir. A parking area on the other side has a walkway across the dam and provides a scenic opportunity to stretch your legs.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
The Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Union Dale, Pennsylvania, started as a farm church for European immigrants in 1904 and was built at its current location in 1923. It gives you the feeling of being on the Russian steppes rather the farmland of Pennsylvania.

From the dam, I continued on Route 511 cruising through Long Pond Ironworks State Park and crossing over the reservoir toward the eight-mile-long Greenwood Lake, which is half in New Jersey and half in New York. You can ride along the east or west shore; both are scenic but Lakeside Road (the west side: Routes 511/210) has more expansive vistas of the lake. Rumbling along the sun-drenched Lakeside Road, I drank in the views of the sparkling water, boats and the forested mountains rising from the shoreline. Cruising into the Village of Greenwood Lake with its 1950s vibe, I connected with Route 17A, which serpentines up the mountain to The Bellvale Creamery overlook.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
Thanks for the delicious ice cream!

There the hinterlands spread out before your eyes like a smorgasbord of farmland and forest, and the ice cream isn’t bad either. Gliding down the mountain on my 1,700cc Kawasaki Voyager to Warwick, I sailed over the waves of Routes 1A and 1, through the black dirt farmland of Pine Island while breathing in the sweet aroma of its many onion farms. Just northwest of Port Jervis is one of New York’s premiere motorcycling roads, the Route 97 Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. This fantastic road snakes alongside 70 miles of the mighty Delaware River. The famous Hawks Nest section has scenic overlooks hundreds of feet above the Delaware River, where Route 97 cuts into the mountainside and has more curves than a sidewinder.

Thundering northwest while paralleling the Delaware River is a rider’s dream: weaving in and out of forests but with river vistas of rapids, smoothly flowing sections and river runners. You might even spot a bald eagle nesting or swooping down from the heavens like a World War II dive bomber to snatch a tasty fish for its lunch.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
“In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountain of faith
To the river so deep” —Billy Joel, “In the Middle of the Night” The mighty Delaware River flowing below the Hawks Nest.

Crossing into Pennsylvania at Cochecton on the Damascus Bridge, I headed west on the winding and rolling Route 371, which travels into Pennsylvania’s lush farmland. At the Route 191 intersection, I headed northeast, continuing into rural Pennsylvania with its country churches, farms and woodlands. Soon this snaking road drifted back toward the forested western shore of the Delaware River. Reaching Route 370, I again headed west toward my night’s destination: an old inn at a great location. Unfortunately, I discovered it was much in need of improvements, so I shall say no more.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
“Almost heaven, [Pennsylvania]
Younger than the mountains blowing like a breeze
Country roads, take me home”
—John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

The next morning I fired up the Voyager and headed southwest on Route 370 to Route 670, both great roads that sail smoothly through the wide-open Pennsylvania countryside. At Belmont Corner, the rustic and bumpy Belmont Turnpike (Route 4023) leads through backcountry farmland; no gentleman-farmer farm stands here, just the real deal: cows, barns, manure and corn.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
How sweet it is breathing in the scents of the Pine Island black dirt farm region.

I rode the bumpy Route 4023 south to Routes 247/296, which are equally scenic but a far less rustic ride with smooth pavement. Thundering toward Waymart, its mountaintop wind turbines stand guard over the territory below like centurions. South of Waymart, I turned onto Route 3028, bouncing my way through the countryside until I took respite at the humongous Lake Wallenpaupack. From there I cruised over the rolling hills and through the forests of U.S. Route 6 to Milford, where I stopped for lunch and a looksee at the motorcycle apparel and gear store: Life Behind Bars.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
A lone kayaker enjoys some rays while feasting his eyes on the 5,700-acre Lake Wallenpaupack.

Riding across the Milford Bridge, high above the Delaware River, I felt like an eagle gliding through the heavens. Heading north on the sinuous Route 521 to Port Jervis, I decided to take the same route home from whence I came. With the sun bathing my face and the low rumble of my Voyager humming in my ears, I knew it would not be long until I again meandered through the hinterlands of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. After all, this favorite ride has a wild river, farms and forests, country churches and fantastic roads to ride.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
My Voyager gazes
west into the hinterlands.

Source: RiderMagazine.com