Burlington County Commissioners celebrate opening of first segment of the Rancocas Greenway Trail

Burlington County Commissioners celebrate opening of first segment of the Rancocas Greenway Trail

DELANCO – No matter if your preference is to walk, run, bike, hike or roll, you can expect to be amazed by Burlington County’s newest regional trail.

The Rancocas Greenway Trail between Amico Island and Pennington Park offers a mix of outdoor recreation and exercise, plus spectacular scenery along the Rancocas Creek. It is the first 4-mile segment of a larger 30-mile path envisioned to someday travel the length of the Rancocas, from its confluence with the Delaware River to its headwaters near the Burlington-Ocean County border.

The Burlington County Commissioners celebrated the new path’s opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Pennington Park, where they were joined by Congressman Andy Kim, New Jersey Assembly members Herb Conaway and Carol Murphy and officials from Delran, Delanco and Riverside and the Circuit Trails Coalition, a collaboration of nonprofit groups and agencies advocating for the development of more interconnecting trails through the Greater Philadelphia region.

“The new Rancocas Greenway Trail connects two of our most popular County parks and provides residents and visitors opportunities to exercise and enjoy the outdoors and some of New Jersey’s most unique and beautiful landscapes,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, the Board’s liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks. “The trail is a great new addition to what was already one of the best parks systems in the nation, and it keeps getting better.”

The new trail begins at Amico Island Park, a 55-acre peninsula located at the confluence of the Rancocas Creek and Delaware River in Delran and travels east through Riverside and across the Delanco-Riverside bridge. The path then goes beneath the River Line light rail bridge and snakes through Delanco to Pennington Park, a 140-acre space with views of the Rancocas Creek, interior trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, dog parks and a community garden.

Both Amico Island and Pennington act as trail heads with ample parking, bike racks and bicycle repair stations. The new trail also connects to Whomsley Field, a popular Riverside municipal park, and the Delanco and Riverside River Line light-rail stations.

The trail is 100% wheelchair accessible. About 2.7 miles of the trail is made up of a 10-foot wide asphalt path located “off road” in municipal right-of-ways that pedestrians and bicyclists share. The remainder of the trail is designated “on-road” routes, where bicyclists travel in designated bike lanes on the roads and pedestrians use sidewalks.

As part of the project, the County added close to 1 mile of new sidewalks within Delran, Riverside and Delanco and added 39 handicap-accessible ramps to existing sidewalk in the three towns. Pedestrian and bicycle bridges were also built over streams near Whomsley Field and the River Line bridge, and striping and signage improvements were made along the entire 4-mile path.

Ensuring all parts of the trail was accessible was a key priority. All the regional trails in the county are wheelchair accessible, and nearly every Burlington County park has one or more accessible trails. The playgrounds at Willingboro Lakes, Historic Smithville Park in Eastampton and Pennington Park are also accessible.

“Burlington County strives to be a leader not only in preserving our open spaces but also in making them accessible to as many people as possible to use and enjoy,” Eckel said.

The new trail cost under $5 million to design and build and was funded almost entirely with grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives Program, which is administered through the New Jersey Department of Transportation Local Aid Office.

Burlington County also received a $300,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Regional Trails Project.

The Rancocas Greenway Trail is one of several new trail projects undertaken by the County, which already has more than 1,000 acres of developed parkland and 50-plus miles of interconnecting trails.

Last summer the County celebrated the opening of a new 5.5-mile section of the Delaware River Heritage Trail between Bordentown and Roebling in Florence Township that planners hope will eventually extend south and connect to the Rancocas Greenway.

The County has also constructed a new trail around Arney’s Mount in Springfield, which is the highest point in Burlington County at 240 feet above sea level. A ceremony to mark that project’s completion will be held later this fall.

All three paths are part of the planned 800-mile Circuit Trails network that is expected to connect four New Jersey counties and five Pennsylvania counties in the Greater Philadelphia region.

“Burlington County is proud to be a leader in creating inviting parks and trails that all residents can use and enjoy, and our goal is to one day have them all connected,” Eckel said. “Mobility is a basic right, and we want our residents to have more safe options to move around our county and for our parks to be as equitable and accessible as possible.”

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