This 24-mile length of trail is located within Monmouth County, New Jersey and runs from Freehold to Highlands. The trail is named for English pioneer Henry Hudson of the Dutch East India Trading Company, who explored the area in the early 17th century. It is paved for almost the entire length, which makes passage easy for humans and their canine companions.
There are several trailheads, each easily accessible from the Garden State Parkway, or several other main highways in Monmouth County. You will enjoy views of wooded areas, streams, open fields, farms, and wetlands for most of the trail, but there are some not-so-scenic views of housing developments and highways.
Walking, running, biking, inline skating, horseback riding and skateboarding are allowed throughout the trail. Dogs are allowed on the trail but they must be kept on-leash. As always, don’t forget to pick up after them!
The Henry Hudson Trail is part of the National Rail-Trail Network. This is a non-profit organization dedicated to turning abandoned railways into natural areas for people to enjoy. The Monmouth County Parks System has leased areas of the trail from New Jersey Transit for recreational use. These retired rails are not completely abandoned and after the lease ends in 2020, New Jersey Transit can resume service along this section of the rail at any time. As a result, plans to complete missing sections of the trail are on hold, as New Jersey Transit is considering reopening the rail in this area as part of their Middlesex-Ocean-Monmouth commuter line.
The Henry Hudson Trail is divided into two sections: North and South, and there are smaller sections along those paths.
The southern half of the Henry Hudson Trail, which opened in 2006, has some areas that are still under construction, but about 10 of the 12 miles are completed. The trail begins in Freehold, and heads north to Matawan.
The trail begins on Dutch Lane in Freehold and heads north travelling parallel to Route 79. This section meanders through housing developments, open fields, farms and wooded areas. Along the way, there are bridges that cross over several streams and highways. Follow it for about 5.25 miles towards Marlboro, and you will come to a set of trails that connect to Big Brook Park. Take the connector for about 1 mile to get to this beautiful park, which covers more than 400 acres of land. The land was purchased for recreational use in 1997, and used to be the site of a large farm. This park contains forests, fields, and plenty of wildlife.
There is a section in Marlboro where the trail is incomplete, and this divides the South Trail into 2 distinct areas. Make your way to the next part of the trail by following a few city blocks.
The northern half of this section is about 4.5 miles in length, and passes through Aberdeen on its way from Marlboro to Matawan. This path was laid in 2005 and is in excellent condition. About half of this section is wooded, and the last part of the trail is close to shopping areas and restaurants.
The northern section of the Henry Hudson Trail is about 10 miles in length and runs east from the border of Aberdeen/Keyport to Highlands. This section, sometimes called the Atlantic Trail, parallels Route 36 for much of the way. There are many road crossings, which can be somewhat dangerous, so watch out for your pooch in these areas. Paved in 1997, this is the oldest section of the trail, and the pavement does have many tree roots, so be aware if you are biking along the trail.
There are not many points of interest along this path, but you can get a view of the ocean far in the distance at many points along the way. There are marshes containing wooden bridges. A notable pit-stop about a mile off of this trail is the boardwalk in Keansburg, which would be great for grabbing a quick bite or cold drink. There are many road crossings, which require frequent stops for traffic; about every quarter to half mile. Towards the end of this section, there is a bridge that crosses over the very busy meeting of Routes 35 and 36. If your pet gets scared around loud noises, or does not like cars, you may want to avoid this area.
There is no trail linking the final two sections of the Henry Hudson Trail, and it requires users to use the road between the Avenue D and the Highlands Marina in Atlantic Highlands.
The final 1.4 mile section of the trail, called the Bayshore Extension, links Atlantic Highlands and Highlands, and ends at Popamora Point on the Sandy Hook Bay. This section was almost totally destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and its future is in question. Some sections in the Atlantic Highlands are very muddy, and wooden paths across sandy areas have been mostly destroyed. Construction vehicles may be seen in this area, as repairs of damages done by Hurricane Sandy are still underway. The trail is open, but use caution, especially with your pets.
The Henry Hudson Trail is a beautiful outdoor refuge located within a suburban area along coastal New Jersey. If you are in the area and looking for an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, why not pack up your pooch and head to this scenic man-made trail.